New & Notable

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Our Writers beyond Synapsis

COVID in U.S. Prisons

Megan Swartzfager created an interactive map to tell the statistical and human story of COVID-19 in prisons through, in the language of the website, “data from The Marshall Project, Prison Policy Initiative’s State Profiles, various news sources that are linked in the map, and personal communications with incarcerated people. ” Among the linked stories is the  Justice-in-Education Program: COVID-19 special issue.


Upcoming Events

Piper Sledge: Bodies Unbound

September 2 @ EST 7:30 pm – 8:15 pm 

Register here for this online event. 

Piper Sledge will be in conversation with Allison Kavey

Bodies Unbound is a well-researched narrative about the relationship between bodies and gender. Drawing on the experiences of individuals whose bodies and gender identities don’t match medical and social expectations, the author explores how ideologies of gendered bodies shape medical care.

“Sledge’s fieldwork has led to a rich and vibrant analysis of how gender is enacted, resisted, performed, and policed in medical settings. Her accessible writing style and complex sociological analysis make this a powerful and unique contribution to the field.” –Lisa Jean Moore, author of Buzz: Urban Beekeeping and the Power of the Bee


September Narrative Medicine Rounds with Reginald Dwayne Betts

Wednesday, September 8th, 2021, 6-7pm. Register Here

For our first Narrative Medicine Rounds of the 2021-22 academic year we are honored to welcome Reginald Dwayne Betts, award winning author, poet, lawyer, and outspoken advocate for criminal justice reform. Betts will be in conversation with Professor Robert Sember of Eugene Lang College and poet and social activist Alejo Rodriguez.

Betts transformed himself from a sixteen-year old kid sentenced to nine-years in prison to a critically acclaimed writer and graduate of the Yale Law School. He has written three collections of poetry: Bastards of the Reagan Era, Shahid Reads His Own Palm, and Felon. When he was awarded the PEN New England Award for poetry for his collection, Bastards of the Reagan Era, judge Mark Doty said: “Betts has written an indelible lament for a generation, a necessary book for this American moment.” His memoir, A Question of Freedom: A Memoir of Learning, Survival, and Coming of Age in Prison, is the story of a young man confined in the worst prisons in the state of Virginia, where solitary confinement, horrific conditions, and the constant violence threatened to break his humanity. Instead, Betts used the time to turn himself into a poet, a scholar, and an advocate for the reform of the criminal justice system.

Betts’ latest collection of poetry, Felon, interrogates and challenges our notions of justice. Longtime New York Times critic, Michiko Kukatani calls Betts’ work both “haunting and harrowing.” A recent collaboration with visual artist Titus Kaphar lead to The Redaction, an exhibition of prints at MoMA PS1. Drawing inspiration and source material from lawsuits filed by the Civil Rights Corps on behalf of people incarcerated because of an inability to pay court fines and fees, The Redaction features poetry by Betts in combination with Kaphar’s etched portraits of incarcerated individuals. Together, Betts’ poems and Kaphar’s printed portraits blend the voices of poet and artist with those of the plaintiffs and prosecutors, reclaiming these lost narratives and drawing attention to some of the many individuals whose lives have been impacted by mass incarceration.