• Rahul Athavale

Poetry From Prison

Updated: Aug 23, 2020

I used to define poetry in a very narrow frame of reference. I have come to see we are all poets and poetry can be any form of self expression. We all have a story and we all have a story that needs to be told and heard. Poetry, writing books and screenplays became my way of expressing and in so many ways finding myself.

I have traveled across South America on a motorcycle, summited peaks, and been in incredibly dangerous places all in an effort to "find my self". It is was in jail I came to learn that I was looking out there somewhere and all I needed to do was stop and stay right where I was. It was in that dark and dangerous place I found what Tony Robbins refers to the giant within. I found the giant and found I was finally at peace. It was the strangest experience. Here I was living like a caged animal. I had all my assets seized and I was more grateful for my life in that moment than I had ever been.

Once I started to mediate daily I found myself just at home with a sense of love and gratitude that made even that hell a beautiful place. It was from that place I was able to start a tutoring program for inmates and watch men who couldn't read or write learn to do both. I was able to see that no matter how many AA meetings they went to if they couldn't get a job they weren't going to get sober and instead of focusing on helping people with their sobriety I helped them with their education.

I was able to teach men who I would have never talked to in the real world find themselves and express themselves through poetry and I was able to watch guys who came from lives of drugs, violence and gangs blossom. Most importantly I started to look for our similarities not our differences.

I didn't think I would make any real friends in that place, I was there for 18 months and it was a traumatic 18 months but I am happy that I did make friends. I was able to find a deep connection with a group of poets. I an so grateful for Lita our professor at DeAnza Community College who walked with us as a group down this road of redemption through poetry.

Photo by S O C I A L . C U T on Unsplash

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