Thursday, March 12, 2015

No bars to reading

My family's sent books to California state prisoners who have received them torn apart, or never gotten them at all. Books are often ripped up or taken by guards. I hope the situation's better in other prisons, in other nations. I found this,one prisoner's reading list at Riker's. Here's a worthy British cause, Haven's campaign to distribute books, to celebrate World Book Day. 

"The Prison Reform Trust recently ran a writing competition for those in Britain’s prisons. One of the winning entries, by a prisoner called Paul, was about the significance that the prison library and books held for him. He finished his piece by saying that books provide prisoners “with the most coveted and precious commodity of all, in or out of prison ... time well spent.” Whether they are facing weeks or decades of incarceration, books can help to ensure that prisoners spend their time well." So reports Sarah Shin via the Verso site, a publisher of radical and left-wing books since 1970.  Might these titles, judged radical or incendiary by guards, cause them to be rejected or ripped apart?

I've been reading about Ignazio Silone, the Italian writer-politician better known abroad for his fiction than in his native land, where his reputation remains controversial. He was jailed both by the Fascists at home and by the Swiss in exile, which surprised me. His biographer reports that a man who was imprisoned when Silone was a boy generated a letter of appeal for that case he found unjust at a very early age. The biographer reports that Silone, decades later, found the man released and they met. 

The old man told the now-famous author how only Dante's Commedia and the Bible were permitted in his cell. He memorized great portions of that exile's (who fled his own unjust death sentence) verse. I wonder how this paean to loss, punishment, hope, and liberation comforted that inmate?

No comments: