Some of you have read my posts on the criminal justice system for years, while others may be just discovering my work. Hopefully you have found my commentary insightful, perhaps useful, and whether you agree with my conclusions or not: you find my voice an important part of a broader discussion. This is the feedback that has compelled me to continue my writing, unpaid, from whatever time I can carve out of life. And now I’m calling on you readers to lend assistance if you can.
I recently completed a draft of a book that connects the dots of my personal journey with the issues of prisons, economics, race, and power. The book is directed towards my daughter, so she can know about these important topics- and also who her dad is without Google trying to fill a gap. She is small and there are no guarantees that I will alive when she is old enough to fully comprehend the gravity of this topic.
Like most people born into foster homes who ends up in a cage for twelve years, my resources are limited although my network feels vast. If you know someone who would be interested in personally hearing me pitch this book, please contact me or forward my information.
When Ursula K. LeGuin recently won her National Book Award, she said:
“I think hard times are coming, when we will be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now, and can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies, to other ways of being. And even imagine some real grounds for hope. We will need writers who can remember freedom: poets, visionaries—the realists of a larger reality. Right now, I think we need writers who know the difference between production of a market commodity and the practice of an art. The profit motive is often in conflict with the aims of art. We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable; so did the divine right of kings. … Power can be resisted and changed by human beings; resistance and change often begin in art, and very often in our art—the art of words. I’ve had a long career and a good one, in good company, and here, at the end of it, I really don’t want to watch American literature get sold down the river. … The name of our beautiful reward is not profit. It’s name is freedom.”
I wrote my first book, NewJack’s Guide to the Big House, ten years ago while talking to the younger guys in prison. This time I have reentry to discuss, along with voting rights, employment discrimination, housing struggles, and parenting. Those who have read my work know my style is deep, direct, and brutally honest. With a flair for creativity. I look forward to continuing this role.
It is important that any insular industry find ways to connect with people outside the system. It is important for the arts to embrace voices from the shadows and not merely serve to reinforce an elitism that has run out of new perspectives.
Your humble writer,
Bruce Scottus Reilly