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Imprisonment: issue summary

September 19, 2011

by Ann E. Michael and Ken Lamberton

Imprisonment spurred many responses; the interpretations ranged from the literal to the metaphoric, as we’d hoped, and included meditations on its opposite: freedom. There were birds and bars and varieties of cells. There were visual images that summed up the sense of detainment succinctly and poems that led surprisingly to the sense of being ensnared or bound. We received submissions from people currently incarcerated and from others who have been in prison in the past or who have a loved one behind bars. Artists and writers expressed being imprisoned by relationships, or through physical limitations, or because of social or class barriers. Some of the submissions are full of rage, others of resignation, others, hope. We feel trapped, it turns out, by ourselves as well as by others. This is no surprise to a human being, yet some of the pieces we received were revelatory in their beauty or their honesty. We observed that few of the submissions dwelt on, or even dealt with, the punitive aspect of incarceration.

Interesting to consider: a relationship between this issue of qarrtsiluni and a previous theme, “The Crowd.” Imprisonment usually implies loneliness and isolation; but as the crowd issue paradoxically highlighted individuality, the theme of imprisonment seems, to me, to illuminate how common the sense of feeling trapped is: a thing we share, culturally, socially, psychologically. Being bound inherently awakens in us the desire to move — to struggle toward freedom. We learn, in that struggle, that freedom has as many forms as imprisonment does. When we feel surprised by something we think we know, understanding deepens. Editing “Imprisonment” offered that kind of revelation continuously. Many thanks to those who sent us their heartfelt work.

For bios of Ann and Ken, see the call for submissions.

  1. Lynnel Jones
    September 20, 2011 at 10:59 am

    Hello Ann and Ken – Thanks for the fine job you did on selecting the poems and art for the Imprisonment issue.- and for your thoughtful observations at its end. I too have been amazed at the variety of responses. Their geographic and cultural scope is an amazement.

    My best wishes to you both and of course also thanks to Dave and Beth for all they do to make qarrtsulini happen.

    Lynnel Jones

  2. Danielle Miglio
    February 13, 2012 at 6:09 pm

    Hello, I was wondering if there was a way to get in contact with Ken. Really enjoyed the music.

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