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By Heart: Poetry, Prison, and Two Lives

by Judith Tannenbaum and Spoon Jackson New Village Press
Pub Date:
04/2010
ISBN:
9780981559353
Format:
Pbk 198 pages
Price:
AU$39.99 NZ$42.60
Product Status: Available in Approx 5 days
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 A two-person memoir that explores education, prison, possibility, and which children our world nurtures and which it shuns. At the books core are two stories that speak up for human imagination, spirit, and the power of art. 
 
"A boy with no one to listen becomes a man in prison for life and discovers his mind can be free. A woman enters prison to teach and becomes his first listener. And so begins a twenty-five year friendship between two gifted writers and poets. The result is By Heart  a book that will anger you, give you hope, and break your heart." - Gloria Steinem

Judith Tannenbaum and Spoon Jackson met at San Quentin State Prison in 1985. For over two decades they have conferred, corresponded and sometimes collaborated, producing very different bodies of work resting on the same understanding: that human beings have one foot in darkness, the other in light. In this beautifully crafted exploration, part memoir, part essay, Tannenbaum and Jackson consider art, education, prison, possibility, and which children our world nurtures and which it shuns. At the book's core are two stories that speak for human imagination, spirit, and expression.

Judith Tannenbaum is a nationally respected educator, speaker, and author. Among her books are the memoir, Disguised as a Poem: My Years Teaching Poetry at San Quentin; two books for teachers: Teeth, Wiggly as Earthquakes: Writing Poetry in the Primary Grades and (with Valerie Chow Bush) Jump Write In! Creative Writing Exercises for Diverse Communities, Grades 6-12; and six poetry collections. She currently serves as training coordinator with WritersCorps in San Francisco.

Born into a family of fifteen boys in Barstow, California, Spoon Jackson was sentenced to Life Without Possibility of Parole when he was twenty years old. Spoon discovered himself as a writer at San Quentin; played Pozzo in the prison's 1988 production of Waiting for Godot; and has written, published, and received awards for plays, poetry, novels, fairy tales, short stories, essays, and memoir during the more than thirty years he has been behind bars. His poems are collected in Longer Ago.

PrefaceAcknowledgments1. This Near-Stranger's Words2. In Silence3. Mirrors4. Nowhere but Barstow and Prison5. By Heart6. Diving7. Artistic Imperialism8. The Poet9. Way Out in the Bay10. Godot11. Cure for Cancer12. Banished13. Write Reckless14. Annotation15. Power or Prison16. The CircleResourcesAbout the Authors

Praise for By Heart "Like all good books, By Heart disrupts our assumptions, causes us to question our preconceptions, and reminds us of a commonly held humanity that is always the subject of Art, the engine of Love and should be the only authority of Justice."- LJ Moore, The Examiner"When two poets write a memoir, it has a vividness, substantiality and eloquence that set it apart. Unlike many contemporary memoirs which focus on a capital P Problem, "By Heart" includes the authors' suffering without trying to market it or glamorize it. Much of "By Heart" is about the way that writers become writers. Although their backgrounds and life circumstances are immensely different, both Judith and Spoon are observant, solitary, attentive to nature and its lack." - Ruth Gendler, Head Butler"By Heart is a moving encounter between freedom and prison, art, beauty and desolation, silence and voice ... It is passionate and tender, raw and realistic ... It is a love story but not love between people; it is about love for ourselves and our humanity. This is a book that I would wish for every educator to read."- The Book Nook"There's a crooked symmetry in this remarkable book: poetry and teaching rescued Tannenbaum, and prison provided her with the lifeline of a writing community; poetry also awakened Jackson, but for him it was a counterforce to prison's destructive power." - Bell Gale Chevigny, emerita professor of literature at the College of Purchase, State University of New York, former chair of the PEN Prison Writing Program "A boy with no one to listen becomes a man in prison for life and discovers his mind can be free. A woman enters prison to teach and becomes his first listener. And so begins a twenty-five year friendship between two gifted writers and poets. The result is By Heart ' a book that will anger you, give you hope, and break your heart."- Gloria Steinem"A remarkable memoir of two powerful personalities brought together through poetry and prison. Through Judith's genuineness a poet awoke and found a way to live a fuller life in spite of confinement, and through Spoon's honesty and talent many people will be compelled to contribute to society, even if society has abandoned them."- Joseph Lea, Library Media Specialist, York Correctional Institution, Niantic, CT"In their remarkable memoir, Spoon Jackson and Judith Tannenbaum show us how words change lives, how poetry invites you to free your mind, even in a maximum security prison. By Heart is their profoundly inspirational story, an engaging and enlightening examination of two people thrown together in a dark place and how both journey through darkness and into the light."- Ken Lamberton, author of Wilderness and Razor Wire: A Naturalist's Observations from Prison and other books"By Heart is... a fascinating glimpse into a world that is mostly forgotten by those outside of it."- Booksexy Review
Judith Tannenbaum currently serves as training coordinator for WritersCorps in San Francisco. Tannenbaum has taught poetry in a wide variety of settings from primary school classrooms to maximum security prisons. 

Spoon Jackson was born in Barstow, California, the heart of the high desert. He began serving a life without possibility of parole sentence at age twenty.