Last night, Reginald Dwayne Betts read excerpts from his new poetry collection, Felon, and answered questions from fellow poet Lady Brion at the Enoch Pratt Free Library in a Writers LIVE event co-sponsored by the Pratt and OSI-Baltimore. (Listen to the podcast here.)
Among the poems in Felon are several that take legal documents and redact text to reveal poetry. When Lady Brion asked how Betts managed to find such beautiful words buried in legal documents, he used his penchant for finding four-leaf clovers as a metaphor. “People who don’t find four leaf clovers always ask where to find them,” he said. “And the answer is that I looked.”
Betts is a poet, essayist, national spokesperson for the Campaign for Youth Justice, and a 2010 Soros Justice Fellow from Bowie, MD. He writes and lectures about the impact of mass incarceration on American society and he is the author of three collections of poetry, Felon, Bastards of the Reagan Era, and Shahid Reads His Own Palm, as well as a memoir, A Question of Freedom. A graduate of Yale Law School, he lives in New Haven, Connecticut, with his wife and their two sons.
Lady Brion is an international spoken word artist, activist, and 2015 OSI-Baltimore Community Fellow. She is a national poetry slam champion and the author of With My Head Unbowed. She received a bachelor’s degree in communication from Howard University and a MFA in creative writing from University of Baltimore. She serves as a board member of DewMore Baltimore, the cultural ambassador for Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle and the founder of the Pennsylvania Ave Black Arts and Entertainment District.