NEWS REVIEWS

iTunes
November 2013
At night I Fly is now available on iTunes

Interview with Michel Wenzer
November 2013
Radio interview on the 7th Avenue Project.
"Filmmaker Michel Wenzer isn’t interested in the lurid fare that typifies popular depictions of prison. He is interested in how some inmates manage to find a way to live and to grow in a place of desolation. For the men profiled in Wenzer’s documentary At Night I Fly: Images from New Folsom, salvation comes in the form of self-examination and artistic engagement, helped along by the remnants of California’s once-thriving Arts In Corrections program." 
 
Spoon-Ful of Wisdom 
Sept 2013
Spoon answer questions in the Spoon-Ful of Wisdom column on Pain Of the Prison System's (POPS) site.
Spoon-ful of Wisom welcomes questions from those who know someone in prison and wish to communicate with that person in the best way possible. Do you have questions about how incarceration is affecting your loved ones? What you might expect when you visit? Or anything else… ask Spoon Jackson by writing to popsvenice@gmail.com

Review of Too Cruel Not Unusual Enough
2013
This important anthology about Life Without the Possibility of Parole (LWOP) sentencing contains two dozen essays, memoirs, poems and journalistic reports written almost entirely by people serving the sentence.
Too Cruel ends with an exhortation in which readers are offered five suggestions for action. The first is: “Sit down and write a letter to one of the big death penalty abolition groups and ask them to stop supporting life without the possibility of parole as an ‘alternative’ to executions.” As a death penalty abolition group that did not support Cali-fornia’s recent Proposition 34, largely because of that initiative’s support of LWOP, CEDP understands.
CEDP understands—and Too Cruel, Not Unusual Enough gives intense personal detail to this understanding—the definition that writer and activist Luis Rodriguez offers in his preface. LWOP, he tells us, is “capital punishment on the installment plan. It’s with-out the possibility of redemption, initiation or restoration.” The reality of Rodriguez’s descriptions is echoed even in the chapters’ titles: Making the Case for Suicide (Michael L. Owens), Slow Death Row (Patricia Prewitt), Dead Man Living (Spoon Jackson).
Many writers describe their youth, which was when they first came to prison, and how they’ve aged since. “I grew my first beard behind bars,” writes Dortell Williams. “I dis-covered I had a forte for writing in a four-man cell.”
Difficult childhoods and the recognition of human value are common themes: “I have learned to appreciate my life,” writes Robin Ledbetter. “I’ve learned that I am worthy of love and care and being treated like a person. I learned that I didn’t deserve the things I endured growing up…In that process, I’ve learned the true value of human life and with that knowledge, I came to understand the devastation of my crime.”
We’re told of the deep recognition of the consequences of our actions by John Purugga-nan: “When you visit your children in your dreams, they are the age they were when you last saw them. Each time you awake from such a dream, you want to go back to sleep, to return to that time in the past.
“There are moments when you’d like to go to sleep and never wake up. But you must go on. You must live with the pain you have caused others, knowing you can never make amends. You cannot give Carl T. back his life. You can never return Mr. and Mrs. T’s son to them. You will never be able to make up for all the times your children needed you and you weren’t there.”
In the section that closes the book, readers are urged to write letters to governors asking for commutation of all death sentences (including LWOP) to life with the possibility of parole, to elected representatives asking for legislation that would ban all forms of the death penalty, and to religious leaders asking them to speak out. The Other Death Penalty followed its own advice and mailed 400 copies of the anthology to policymakers, thought leaders and the media.
I hope every reader of Too Cruel—the influential recipients of the book from The Other Death Penalty Project, along with each of us—will open our hearts and minds as we read about human beings who have worked hard to grow.
Essay after poem after memoir brings us to this precise paradox. As those serving LWOP come to recognize the full value of life—their own life and the lives of others—they also realize that those in power (as well as the voting public and often death penalty abolitionists) don’t really care. Regardless of their own rehabilitation and redemption, the world is still willing for them to die in prison. We on the outside are the ones who must change this.
And yet, the gift of growth belongs to those who did the growing, as these writers show us. As Martin Williams writes: “I no longer tried to escape, or fit in, to the without-paroleness of my sentence. Life called from the silent concrete pre-fab…I wanted life, with or without anything, crazy life, unknowable life, gameless and placeless life.”
Judith Tannenbaum

 Judith Tannenbaum is a writer and teacher whose publications include: Disguised as a Poem: My Years Teaching Poetry at San Quentin and By Heart: Poetry, Prison, and Two Lives (with Spoon Jackson). She currently works as training coordinator for San Fran-cisco’s WritersCorps.

Tannenbaum’s review first appeared in CEDP’s The New Abolitionist October 2013 issue. Thanks to Campaign to End the Death Penalty for permission to reprint.



Too Cruel Not Unusual Enough now available
July 2013
The book is available on Amazon and Createspace. If you consider getting a copy you will support the publisher "The Other Death penalty Project" buying it from Createspace. 
 
New book
May 2013 
A new book with Spoon's poems has just been released in Germany! It's number 11 in a poem series called "Versensporn", published by "Edition Poesie Schmeckt Gut Jena". It contains both material that has not been published before and some poems from "Longer Ago".
Each copy includes a DVD with Michel Wenzer's short film "Three Poems by Spoon Jackson".
It can be ordered here: www.poesieschmecktgut.de
 
Good Men Project
Jan 2013
Spoon starts to write for The Good Men Project on a regular basis with his own section Poet Behind Bars.
 
At Night I Fly premieres in the US
January 2013
At Night I Fly has been selected for the Museum of Modern Art in New York's prestigious Documentary Fortnight! This will be the film's U.S. premiere.

Director Michel Wenzer will be attending the screenings. The festival is organized by MoMA Film and is held from February 15th to March 4th 2013.

Too Cruel, not Unusual Enough
October 2012
Spoon's poem Go On is one of the poems in a new anthology called "Too cruel, not unusual enough". SF Bay View writes:
"This book, about to be released, is made up of essays and poems by prisoners sentenced to “the other death penalty,” the long, slow, agonizing death of life in prison without hope of parole. This poem by Spoon Jackson is one of them. The editor and co-editors are also serving LWOP sentences, and the cover was designed by a prison artist."

Susan E Lawrence writes about the book in her article The lowdown on Caliofrnia's Prop 34: "Recently, I read an extraordinary manuscript for a forthcoming book, “Too Cruel, Not Unusual Enough,” a unique collection of essays and poetry by life without parole prisoners.  It is, quite simply, devastating.  For those who have not had the privilege, as I have had, to be allowed a view into an aspect of humanity hidden away from public consciousness, reading this book will be a life-changing experience, after which it should be impossible to consider life without parole a “reasonable” alternative to anything." The whole article is published in the political newsletter Counterpunch.

At Night I Fly - now on dvd
May 2012
Both At Night I Fly and Three Poems by Spoon Jackson are now available at Story Film.

On Swedish TV
At Night I Fly online for the Swedish audience until the 19th of May.

Review
Review of At Night I Fly in Glasgow Guardian.

At Night I fly wins!
Jan 2012
AT NIGHT I FLY won the prestigeous Swedish Guldbagge film festival award for Best documentary of the year!!
In English here  The Yellow Affair and here At Night I Fly Film
The thank you speech. 

At Night I fly nominated 
for the prestigious Swedish Film Institute Guldbagge Awards.


Judith Tannenbaum's visit in Sweden
Judith Tannenbaum was invited to Sweden by the producers of Michel Wenzer's film At Night I fly and came for a short visit. Here is an interview with her on Swedish national TV, Kulturnyheterna and here is a printed interview for Swedish Radio.

Swedish premiere of At Night I fly
The Swedish premiere of Michel Wenzer's documentary At Night I Fly, Images from New Folsom is November 25, 2011. It shows at Folkets Bio, an independent cinema represented all over the country. It will later come up on Swedish National TV. 

Writers behind bars

At night I fly - Images from New Folsom
May 2011
Michel Wenzer, who has earlier made "Three poems by Spoon Jackson", a short movie with Spoon reading his poetry, that gained publicity and won a documentary movie price has recently completed a full length documentary about Spoon and other prisoners in the Arts in Correction program at New Folsom prison. It's the result of five years work. The title comes from a poem by Spoon. World premiere at Sheffield documentary film festival in June. It will later show on Swedish and Danish National Television. 

Two new articles
May 2011
Yes! Magazine has adapted some of Spoon's chapter 4 of By Heart under the title Life with Poetry, but No Parole. Poetry Flash published a review by Richard Silberg called Silence was my teacher.

Review of Longer Ago
March 2011
Longer Ago captivates the heart with imagery as real and vivid as life.   I feel the restlessness and danger in “No Beauty In Cell Bars” and experience the longing so vividly described.  I take the journey to the desert in “Home Boys”  like I’m watching a scene in a movie.  I glimpse a man’s love and longing and dreams.  I see the details through his eyes in “Window Sill” of life in unlikely places.  I hear his silent revolution in “Misdirections”  and witness the wonder of a poet discovering his poetry.  I fly through the universe on the wind, past the full moon riding the words of this book,  gently landing on “Beauty In Cell Bars” where Spoon eloquently reminds me to let flow “the dam we build to stop the universal love, the light”.   All of this from a man behind bars who has been to depths in the heart and soul that few of us reach.  Longer Ago is truly a captivating, soul-provoking, beautiful collection of realness in words. 

Michelle McAfee, Singer/Songwriter, Awake Now Records


Reviews of By Heart
January 2011
"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

April 2011
"I have been reading Spoon's poetry for many years now, publishing poems and even a long distance interview once. This book is just amazing. The story of Judith and Spoon told side by side, story by story, is almost too much to process. I had to stop several times, just to absorb each chapter. A very well written story of humanity, redemption, forgiveness, love, drama, poetry, and I hope it opens your heart. What it's all about.

Joyce D Phillips 

Review at New Village Press
Review by Ruth Gendler
Review by Wendy Jason
More links to reviews of By Heart on Judith Tannenbaums website.

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