The Untold Story of the Real Me: Young Voices From Prison

Untold Story cover square JPEG.jpg
Untold Story cover square JPEG.jpg

The Untold Story of the Real Me: Young Voices From Prison


ISBN: 978-0996927444

The Untold Story of the Real Me is a collection of poems written by young people who were charged and incarcerated as adults at the age of 16 or 17. All poets are members of the Free Minds Book Club and Writing Workshop; many are currently incarcerated in the DC Jail or federal prison. Their work explores themes of parenthood, love, pain, identity, race, and freedom in voices both raw and powerful. This collection also features individual profiles of Free Minds members who are home from prison and serving as Poet Ambassadors in the violence prevention initiative, “On the Same Page.” Already being used in classrooms across the country to start conversations around youth violence and the justice system, The Untold Story of the Real Me provides a new take on the power of one voice to speak truth to pain, to seek redemption and healing. 




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The literary collection you hold in your hands is a testament to the vitality and spirit of the young poets whose work is presented in these pages, proof in print that books and reading can change and save lives. The key is perseverance; the Free Minds people remain present from lockup through reentry, creating ambassadors to the community who effectively curb the cycle of violence and incarceration. The message is important, and so is the work. The pieces showcased here are moving and real.
— George Pelecanos, novelist (The Cut, Drama City), writer/producer of The Wire
[Free Minds poetry] helped me to realize that I should continue to get my education so that I can pursue my career as a social worker to help at-risk youth.
— On The Same Page Violence Prevention Project DCPS Middle school student participant
Writing these poems and telling my story has been a great way to express myself and how I feel instead of being locked up behind doors holding all my feelings in.
— VA middle school student who began writing poems for her incarcerated father after reading Free Minds poetry in the Untold Story of the Real Me
Thank you for sharing your stories and motivating me to want to become a better person. Your stories are really inspiring and encouraging. Even when you were all faced with hardship and struggle you fought through and made it out better and stronger. Thank you for making the world a better place.
— On The Same Page participant American University College student
Free Minds poetry is an unbelievably powerful vehicle for making human connections across the many walls that separate the fortunate ones in our society from the less fortunate. When I sit down with a poem written by an inmate I get an uncanny feeling of direct communication with someone who society has placed out of bounds, someone for whom words and poetry have taken on huge meaning…Reading their poetry humanizes and individualizes the inmates. They are no longer an undifferentiated group of people; instead they are D’Angelo, Delonte, Demetrich, etc. My connection with Free Minds has also greatly increased my concern about mass incarceration, solitary confinement, and the channeling of adolescents into the adult justice system.
— Anne Manuel, Volunteer
The Untold Stories of the Real Me
Light exposing the pain and heartache most can’t see
My students read your poetry and said those poems are reflections of me
And there are no limits to what I can be.
The Untold Stories of the Real Me
Opens doors for the youth, helps them see
That the pen is mightier than the sword
And that problems, issues, setbacks, as well as victories can be expressed through the written word
Some might think it absurd, that writing can cause one to change
Untold Stories, reality, simple and plain
Thank you for the love, energy, and light
— Quincy Murdock, educator in Kentucky