Friday, April 18, 2008


Dateline: April 13, 2008
Location: deep inside a prison cell in Florida

A couple weeks ago, I got a nice letter from the "PEN American Center" in New York City, notifying me that I'd won a national writing award, first place, for the memoir, "Fighting the Ninja," a heavy look at HIV and AIDS in prison. That's a great honor, to have intelligent, decent, educated people in New York judge my writing, and proclaim it the best in the nation. I thank them for their generosity and perception.

I don't have HIV or AIDS. I'm clean. No hepatitis, no tuberculosis, no communicable diseases. Considering the cesspool that is prison, you might think that's amazing, unless you know me. Numerous times over the years people have asked me, since I'm a prisoner serving life, they've heard all the stories about those showers, "Have you ever, uh..., you know,...uh,...?" and the answer is no. I tell them, I'm a rare bird in prison, I'm old-fashioned, I'm what they call a heterosexual, I like women, I don't like men, they don't interest me. i don't consider barnyard animals as suitable companions, either, though I've heard tell that some do.

When I wrote "Fighting the Ninja" last year, I sent a copy to my Aunt Alice in Tampa, and asked her what she thought of it. She gave me a one-word review, "Horrible!" I loved it, best review I could ask for. If you haven't read it, it's on the website, Check it out, let me know what you think. AIDS in prison is an expensive proposition. and it's only going to get worse. I have some ideas about that, too.

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