Prison Notebooks


I can point you to mountains of research about prisons. I can also recommend at least a dozen Netflix documentaries, and highlight a handful of radical activists and scholars. There’s a lot of intellectual work done about prison. But what about intellectual work done in prison?

As part of this week’s “ideas in strange places” theme, we want to play you this episode from right near when we started Darts and Letters, where we ask what kind of radical thought can come from the extreme oppression prisoners endure.

We’ll be back with brand new episodes on September 18th, until then we’re replaying the best of our catalogue with a different theme each week.

In Prison Notebooks…

  • First, in the opening essay, host Gordon Katic discusses the long history of radical prison writing. From Thoreau to Gramsci, MLK, Oscar Wilde, Eugene Debs, Emma Goldman, and even Wittgenstein.
  • Next (@5:36), Chandra Bozelko served 6 years, three months, and 11 days in a women’s prison in Connecticut. While inside, she started an award-winning newspaper column. She tells us what writing did for her while inside, and what everyday prison intellectualism really looks like.
  • Then (@42:30), Justin Piché edits one of the most amazing academic journals you will ever come across. It’s called the Journal of Prisoners on Prisons. It has been around for over thirty years. In each and every edition, you will see brilliant scholarly work—it just so happens that this work is written by prisoners themselves

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This episode of Darts and Letters was produced by Jay Cockburn. Research and support from David Moscrop and Addye Susnick. Our theme song and music was created by Mike Barber, and our graphic design was created by Dakota Koop.

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Darts and Letters

This is about ‘arts and letters,’ but for the kind of people who might hack a dart. We cover public intellectualism and the politics of academia from a left perspective. Each week, we interview thinkers about key debates that are relevant to the left. We discuss politics, culture, and intellectual history.

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