Read a poem, talk about it, read it again.
Connor and Jack are joined by special guest Tara Betts to discuss the poem "Small Illuminations" from her forthcoming collection REFUSE TO DISAPPEAR. They discuss the legacy of Margaret Taylor-Burroughs, the realities of incarceration, and how the collection REFUSE TO DISAPPEAR grew over time.
Get a copy of REFUSE TO DISAPPEAR, here.
Small Illuminations By: Tara Betts I. Albert is a gentle tower. His arms arched over tabletop like bridge beams or girders. Even if he does not understand everything he reads, he smiles like a good kid, like the kid he probably was 30-some-years ago when he was in the wrong car with the wrong people at the wrong time that he will never get back. II. The attention to detail borders on flawless. Unscuffed white sneakers, perfected lined fades tucked under precisely folded skullies immaculate with what you got as a clean, hard-fought pride. III. One week, I bring crisp folders, a bundle of sharpened pencils with full pink erasers, round and soft as a doll’s blush. They rub away small errors, clearing smudges from a page like an actual correction. IV. I look for Albert’s easy grin first when I walk into the concrete block classroom. Locked in the education building, relieved that the broken window denies the cold like a plea. One brother in blues with thermal sleeves peeking out of the dull faded ocean of cloth arching over his torso. A cellmate hands me the slightly worn, safeguarded, staple-bound book of poems— the signature resolute and matching letters of a poet’s name who strolled into prison like a mother without fear of any child. Margaret Burroughs—more than a decade since she left the cell of her body. I clutch her poems knowing how they passed from her hands like a prayer. We both smile— small illuminations in a dark hell—when the cellmate says Albert wanted you to have this. He got transferred. He knew you’d keep it safe.