The Luis Hernandez Florida Prison Poet Laureate, named in honor of Luis Angel Hernandez, a poet from Dade Correctional Institution who passed away from cancer in 2018, is awarded once a year by Exchange for Change, in collaboration with O, Miami Poetry Festival. One poet currently incarcerated in the state of Florida is designated this prestigious position each December.
Responsibilities include, but are not limited to: writing commissioned poems for special occasions and events, promoting the work of fellow inmates, and acting as a representative for the inside.
The position lasts a year, with the mission of increasing visibility of Florida’s prison population, promoting rehabilitation through the arts, as well as asserting the basic humanity of all human beings.
It is with great honor to announce that this year’s Prison Poet Laureate goes to Eduardo “Echo” Martinez.
“My sincerest congratulations—felicidades—Eduardo. Your words remind me that the truest poetry comes from the deepest, most honest, and daring places within ourselves—from the very marrow of the soul’s bones. I don’t believe that a poem can change the world, but it most certainly can change a life—one’s own life, as well as the lives of others who encounter our poetry. And, in turn, our changed lives can indeed change the world. You and your voice clearly demonstrate and understand that—driven by the raw tenderness of hope. Thank you for the gift of your poems that free us, for we are all trapped in our own ways, and poetry like yours is a reminder that the most powerful way out is by finding a way in to ourselves—into our own inner peace and light. Gracías, hermano.”
Richard Blanco, United States Inaugural Poet (2012)