Arlington Reads: Reginald Dwayne Betts
An Arlington Reads Signature Author Event. This event will be livestreamed.
Join us for a live poetry reading from Reginald Dwayne Betts' book "Felon" followed by a conversation between the poet and Library Director Diane Kresh about Betts' work with the Freedom Reads project.
About the book
"Felon" tells the story of the effects of incarceration in fierce, dazzling poems-canvassing a wide range of emotions and experiences through homelessness, underemployment, love, drug abuse, domestic violence, fatherhood, and grace - and, in doing so, creates a travelogue for an imagined life. Reginald Dwayne Betts confronts the funk of postincarceration existence and examines prison not as a static space, but as a force that enacts pressure throughout a person's life. The poems move between traditional and newfound forms with power and agility - from revolutionary found poems created by redacting court documents to the astonishing crown of sonnets that serves as the volume's radiant conclusion. Drawing inspiration from lawsuits filed on behalf of the incarcerated, the redaction poems focus on the ways we exploit and erase the poor and imprisoned from public consciousness. Traditionally, redaction erases what is top secret; in "Felon," Betts redacts what is superfluous, bringing into focus the profound failures of the criminal justice system and the inadequacy of the labels it generates. Challenging the complexities of language, Betts animates what it means to be a "felon."
About the author:
Reginald Dwayne Betts is the author of a memoir and three books of poetry. His memoir, "A Question of Freedom: A Memoir of Learning, Survival, and Coming of Age in Prison" (Avery/Penguin, 2009), was awarded the 2010 NAACP Image Award for non-fiction. His books of poetry are "Shahid Reads His Own Palm" (Alice James, 2010), "Bastards of the Reagan Era" (Four Way Books, 2015), and "Felon" (W.W. Norton, 2019). Betts is a 2010 Soros Justice Fellow, 2011 Radcliffe Fellow, 2012 Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellow, and a 2021 MacArthur Fellow. In 2012, Betts was appointed to the Coordinating Council of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention by President Obama. He is a graduate of Prince George’s Community College, the University of Maryland, the MFA Program at Warren Wilson College, and is currently a PhD student at Yale Law School. He is also the Founding Director of Freedom Reads, an organization striving increasing access to books for the incarcerated.
RSVP for event reminder. Attendance is first-come, first-served until seating capacity is reached. The event will also be livestreamed (but not recorded), so please RSVP to receive the livestream link.
COVID-19 Safety: All attendees ages 2 and older – regardless of vaccination status – are required to wear a mask while inside all Arlington Public Library facilities. When visiting the Library, the County Visitor Face Covering Policy from the Arlington County Government website is in effect.