Readers are loving Don’t Shake the Spoon!
“All writers want readers. We want to write because we first read something that changed us, a generosity that feeds itself to keep the tradition of literature alive. I can't think of anything more valuable to that tradition than to make room for these incarcerated writers. Too often, we shake the spoon of literature, leaving writers who don't fit into arbitrary, pre-arranged categories off of the collective plate. By doing so, we make the plate smaller. We make our hearts and minds smaller. And most of all, we miss out on some great writing. ‘Everything eventually vanishes, including us,’ says Eduardo Martinez in his intro to Don't Shake the Spoon, but thanks to this incredible new journal, these writers are vanishing a little less. Thanks to these writers, we're all a little more alive.”
O, Miami Poetry Festival
“Don't Shake the Spoon is a powerful collection of stories, essays, and poems written by students on the inside of South Florida prisons. These rich writings tackle what change can mean and not mean.
Eduardo Martinez's poignant piece, ‘Don't Shake the Spoon’ gives the collection its title. Martinez uses the image of prison cafeteria chow and the disappointment that comes when getting what's shaken off the spoon. With this theme, he then explores the many different ways that the writers in this collection are, as he puts it, ‘starving for freedom.’
In the twenty-two pieces that follow, we see the possibility of change. Raymon Grayson writes about wanting ‘to create writing for which no one can wait.’ Michael Gonzalez' poem ‘The Sun Set That Day’ highlights how we need to recognize change: ‘see that me at 33 is not the same me that I was at nineteen.’
‘The Last Page’ by Catherine LaFleur depicts how haunting memories can interrupt the meditative mind. And Waldo Hewitt's mindfulness nicely intersects with the politics of mass incarceration.
These writers play with form too—and with great success. For example, Allington Dante Dottin’s one line poem has a footnote that extends into the next page, reflecting on what the poem wants to do. And the writers in this collection want to do great things--their writing is evidence of that.
Several pieces, including Francois Richardson's, emphasize the importance of educational opportunities like Exchange for Change and the need for more. So please read this book. Be changed. And support Exchange for Change!”
Dr. Glenn Hutchinson
Director, Center for Excellence in Writing
Florida International University
“Dedicated to the incarcerated men and women of South Florida, Don't Shake the Spoon showcases the power of writing to help individuals connect with one other, both inside and outside of prison. Written in writing courses at correctional facilities across South Florida, the compelling and powerful accounts in this volume demonstrate the potential of composing to inspire dialogue and social change. It also reminds us just how vital organizations like Exchange for Change are in educating the public about the crisis of mass incarceration and creating publications like this one that fosters understanding and change.”
Patrick W. Berry
Author of Doing Time, Writing Lives: Refiguring Literacy and Higher Education in Prison
“I can think of few things more important than listening to the voices of the incarcerated. These voices are bold, passionate, and radiant. We need to listen to what they have to say.”
Deb Olin Unferth
Associate Professor at The University of Texas at Austin
"The writers of Don’t Shake the Spoon, ask readers to ‘eat our words, digest our stories’ to eat ‘til awareness replaces your appetite.’ And indeed there are two stages to reading this work. First you see how different life is for those on the inside, but then you see how people are people, whether they are inside or out. These poems, essays, and stories remind the reader not just of the humanity of those on the inside, but of the reader’s own humanity—of our own capacity to err, to forgive, to understand, and to empathize. The prison system hides people away, Don’t Shake the Spoon brings them back into the light."
Ayse Papatya Bucak
Writer, The Trojan War Museum