The point is, we were in a situation [prison] where narratives and story were far more compelling than when we were free. It sounds like a stereotype, but I think a lot of us were locked in poverty and cycles of violence. Most of the black men around me had children, a lot of the young dudes who were my age had fathers who were in prison. When we were in the world, we were locked in a space where we didn’t believe other narratives existed. Coming to prison and reading books was a way for many of us to try on different narratives.
- Dwayne Betts, former inmate who now teaches poetry at the University of Maryland