BASTARDS OF THE REAGAN ERA, Mr. Betts’s second volume of verse, demonstrates his ability to use the musical power of words to convey what it is like to grow up black and marginalized, and the crushing, humiliating experience of prison.
The phenomenon of prison, completely distinct from the pursuit of a safe community, has always been about the breaking of human beings.
It should not have been a surprise to anyone that part of what I got out of my time in prison was nearly a year and a half of solitary confinement.
I had never thought about poetry as a way to communicate. I never thought about it as a way to talk about things other than love.
Young people don’t read because they don’t see other people they can associate with being cool reading. I’ve got a space where we can come together.
The entire language about concurrent sentence, parole, probation, resentencing report. All of these words that have nothing to do with real life, I have no reason now to ever have a conversation about them, but they become something that defines you.
A poem can say everything you say in a novel in much less space. They’re musical. People hear the music in poetry.