May 28 2013

Hooray! A Taxpayer-Supported Poetry Writing Project for Hardened Criminals!

Charlotte Hays

Some great books have come from prison.

So, if you go to prison and want to write a great book, have at it.

But do it on your own time--so to speak--and don't expect to be paid and cossetted.

Oh, wait--poetry-loving criminals should expect to be pampered and paid for expressing their thoughts. 

A 75 K taxpayer –supported “Prison Poetry” project is just the latest rip-off of law-abiding citizens. Hey, it's like doing a robbery all over again!

The Free Beacon reports:

One way prisoners are passing the days, months, and years is writing poetry and posting it online on the taxpayer dime. WPEC reports on the new prison poetry website which was launched recently with assistance from a $75,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Among the titles available to listen to on PrisonPoetryWorkshop.org are: “Ghetto Bastard”, “Fenced Jewels” and “A Gangster’s Prayer”.

The taxpayer funded grant 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.

Well, they always say you should write about something you know.

But taxpayers should not be paying so that convicts can express their innermost thoughts about ghetto bastards and fencing stolen goods. This is a scam.

It also sounds like the poetry program encourages self-expression in the very segment of the population that should be steered towards less self-expression and more self-control. Of course, it is likely to be a self-described poetry guru or bureaucrat who administers this ridiculous program who actually makes out like (if you'll pardon the expression) a bandit on the taxpayer’s dime. .

CNS talked to the “executive producer” of the project (as reported in the Examiner):

Nick Szuberla, Executive Producer of the project, told CNS, “It’s to focus on a literary form that is often overlooked and unrecognized in America.” The site, he explained further, will offer an in-depth look in particular 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. It is not clear whether “The Ballad Of Reading Gaol” will be featured among the other offerings.

In the meantime, the amount of money doled out for the website pales next to amounts taxpayers have been forced to fork over for worthwhile endeavors that include ‘voice therapy’ for transsexuals ($152K), a study on duck penises ($385K), and another on the mating habits of snails ($880K).

Mr. Knight, by the way, also got National Endowment money to write his poems. A Guggenheim followed in 1974. Since I have never read any of his poetry, I can’t comment on his literary attainments.

As I said, if you want to use the enforced calm of prison to write, go for it.

What galls me is that we taxpayers are paying for this.

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