April Showers Bring May Flowers. It’s Graduation Season.
May marks one of our favorite months of the year. It’s a wrap-up for our students as this spring semester comes to a close. This year, from over 30 classes, more than 200 of our students will be graduating. The love, passion, and dedication they have put into their work show just how special and unique each of them are. This week our students will be performing their pieces at our graduation showcases. Stay tuned to hear all about it. In the meantime, here’s a Mother’s Day poem written by our 2019 Prison Poet Laureate, Eduardo “Echo” Martinez.
“O, Miami is here; Let the poetry flow - even from prison”
Our 2019 Prison Poet Laureate, Eduardo “Echo” Martinez, wrote a wonderful poem that is featured in an op-ed for the Miami Herald.
Here is a snippet:
Opportunity is an endangered presence, a stranger most of us don’t recognize pass us by. We swallow our words with pride and a sip of regret. Writing can be a dangerous attribute in prison. Words with certain content carry consequence, they can be convicting or convincing. Freedom of speech is not a constitutional right in a state institution. As I drop these lines my words tiptoe on the tightrope trying to keep balance.
To continue reading, click here.
Fall Graduation Showcases
Thanks to the inspired efforts of our students, staff, faculty, and volunteers, our graduation showcase ceremonies were a huge success. With more than sixty men graduating from five classes at the Everglades C.I. alone, we’re growing our Everglades programming at an unprecedented rate--and we plan to fill even more seats this fall. Huge thanks go out to those of you who attended either one of our graduations. The students and teachers of Exchange for Change appreciated your time and support very much.
If you couldn’t make it to a graduation this semester, check out WLRN's coverage of our Everglades CI graduate showcase (play the audio postcard to hear the highlights!). To attend a future graduation, please check back for our spring dates this April. We hold graduations three times a year at both the Dade and Everglades correctional institutions, and we would love to see you there.
The Power of Words
Exchange for Change believes in the power of written partnerships to promote dialogue and impact social change. We facilitate anonymous writing exchanges between classrooms in correctional and court-mandated facilities as well as classrooms in high schools and universities.
In a Florida prison, a poet grapples with power and oppression
In Martinez’s work, power is a trap; being ruled by it is a trap, and wielding it is, too, a dynamic that he said he confronts every day in prison. “Black and Latino correctional officers are oppressing their own people. They’re trapping each other,” he wrote in a letter to the NewsHour. “You got brothers and sisters struggling between remaining human and becoming a beast. It’s a moral balance daily.”
Click here to read the article.
"The Crying, the Laughing, The Hurt," A talent showcase inside prison walls
Outside of his dreams, Juan Esquival hadn’t held his children since 1999. “Freedom,” said Elliot Ross, doing time for a string of robberies before his 22nd birthday, “is for my kids not to make the same mistake I did in life.” After 18 years in prisons across Florida, as he tuned up, guitarist Ronald “Bam” Threet said he knew exactly how much time he had left on the inside: eight months, four hours and 35 minutes.
Click here to read the article.