Death row inmates create literary project "Spoken Pen" | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Death row inmates create literary project "Spoken Pen"

Posted By on Thu, Jun 8, 2017 at 3:42 PM

IMAGE DESIGNED BY ISABELLE WATSON REAMS (ISABELLE IZE)
  • Image designed by Isabelle Watson Reams (Isabelle Ize)
On May 24, a few weeks before Arkansas planned to kill an unprecedented eight men in just 11 days using a drug protocol that could cause a potentially painful death, "Spoken Pen" released its first installment. A collaborative literary project of four death row inmates in Arkansas — LaTravious Johnson, Kenneth Reams, Justin Anderson and Kenneth Williams — "Spoken Pen" distributes poems and other writings by these death row inmates.

The group described the project, in about "About Us" post, as "a richly detailed and personal glimpse into the minds of four talented writers who have lived through despair, racism, violence, harsh poverty, crime, neglect, abuse, and a generation behind bars."

You can find the full archive of their work on this Facebook page.

"They started their own group, trying to do something on their own, and then reached out to me for help posting," said Matthew Henriksen, who helps run the Facebook page. He met them working with the Prison Story Project. He and a group of others read and distribute the work of the inmates, but the collaborative writing group was entirely created by the prisoners themselves.

"Spoken Pen" co-creator Williams was the last man to be executed by the state of Arkansas on April 27, 2017. There are still open questions concerning Williams' execution. Williams, an ordained minister, was a prolific writer. Including a book "The Unrelenting Burdens of Gang Bangers."

Henriksen said that the "Spoken Pen" writers told him they were also motivated by creating a sense of community and engaging with the public.

The most recent post is a series of answers to the question, "Why are so many black men in prison?" The "Spoken Pen" folks asked this question to fellow inmates and are hoping for the wider community to respond. You can read the full answers here and participate.

Here's the answer of Marcel Williams, who was executed on April 24, 2017.
Because we refuse to diligently do the things that we need to do to find our own greatness, thus we perpetuate our own self-defeating prophecy. He’ll be dead or in prison before he’s 18 years old. We’ve all heard this said at some point in life.

Tags: , , , , , ,

From the ArkTimes store

Favorite

Comments (3)

Showing 1-3 of 3

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-3 of 3

Add a comment

More by Jacob Rosenberg

Readers also liked…

  • Federal judge wants John Goodson to explain class action maneuvering

    A show-cause order filed Monday by federal Judge P.K. Holmes of Fort Smith indicates class action attorney John Goodson has some explaining to do about the move of a class action complaint against an insurance company from federal to state court with an instant pre-packaged settlement that has been criticized as a windfall for Goodson.
    • Dec 22, 2015
  • Arkansas Times Recommends: A Literary Edition

    Arkansas Times Recommends is a series in which Times staff members (or whoever happens to be around at the time) highlight things we've been enjoying this week.
    • Jul 1, 2016
  • Al Gore remembers Dale Bumpers

    Former Vice President Al Gore, a former U.S. Senate colleague of Dale Bumpers, sent a statement on Bumpers' death Friday:
    • Jan 3, 2016

Most Shared

  • So much for a school settlement in Pulaski County

    The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Cynthia Howell got the scoop on what appears to be coming upheaval in the Pulaski County School District along with the likely end of any chance of a speedy resolution of school desegregation issues in Pulaski County.
  • Riverfest calls it quits

    The board of directors of Riverfest, Arkansas's largest and longest running music festival, announced today that the festival will no longer be held. Riverfest celebrated its 40th anniversary in June. A press release blamed competition from other festivals and the rising cost of performers fees for the decision.
  • Football for UA Little Rock

    Andrew Rogerson, the new chancellor at UA Little Rock, has decided to study the cost of starting a major college football team on campus (plus a marching band). Technically, it would be a revival of football, dropped more than 60 years ago when the school was a junior college.
  • Turn to baseball

    When the world threatens to get you down, there is always baseball — an absorbing refuge, an alternate reality entirely unto itself.

Most Recent Comments

Blogroll

 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation