Prison Poetry Website Locks Down $75,000 NEA Grant

May 17, 2013 - 2:01 PM

prison

(AP Photo)

(CNSNews.com) - A new website on prison poetry was launched this week with assistance from a $75,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Prisonpoetryworkshop.org debuted online this week and features readings of poems written by incarcerated inmates.  Among the titles available to listen to on the site are: “Ghetto Bastard”, “Fenced Jewels” and  “A Gangster’s Prayer”.

“It’s to focus on a literary form that is often overlooked and unrecognized in America,” Nick Szuberla, Executive Producer of prisonpoetryworkshop.org told CNSNews.com.

“The website will feature weekly podcasts and 8 national radio programs from different cities.”

The $75,000 grant for the radio series and website was awarded through the NEA’s Arts in Media program. Funding started in May of 2012 and is set to continue through September of 2013.

The podcasts currently on the website feature recordings of callers reading the poetry of prisoners into an answering machine.

“Dozens of prisoner poets around the country are posting their work here for you to read and record. That's right. Read this poem and add your voice to the Prison Poetry Workshop,” the website says.

According to Szuberla, the site will also offer an in-depth look into the work and history of poet Etheridge Knight. Knight’s book of poetry “Poems from Prison” was released in 1968 and reflects on the time he spent in prison for robbery.

“The main thing is that it offers an appreciation of an art form that has often influenced other artists, an art form that is not often recognized,” Szuberla said.