Thursday, April 8, 2010


Dateline:  Wednesday, March 31, 2010 DAY SIXTEEN IN SOLITARY


In the midst of all the adversity I’ve been faced with the past month or so over my prison diary writings, I’d like to report two interesting and positive developments that have resulted from my literary work.

If you’ve been reading my messages since March 16, 2010, and following the censorship and confiscation issues surrounding my memoir, “To Protect The Guilty,” this will seem ironic, especially since one memoir landed my butt in disciplinary confinement.

A few days before I went to solitary, the mailroom received and delivered a copy of the “Journal Of Prisoners on Prisons,” (Volume 19, No.1, 2010 – published by the University of Ottowa Press, edited by Bell Chivigny. Included in the Journal was my 2008 PEN award-winning memoir, “Fighting the Ninja,” about AIDS in prison, with the photo I took in 1985 of “Mama Herc,” a legendary chain gang homosexual, along with powerful works by men and women prisoners nationwide.

No issues, no official complaints, no confiscation of a story about prison homosexuals and AIDS, but only a few weeks before, the “authorities” blew their tops over a memoir about Ku Klux Klan prison guards. Content-wise, the “…Ninja” memoir, to me (but what do I know? I just write the stuff that I have lived), was a much stronger, more raw, and potentially more controversial work than the more humorous KKK memoir. What’s the difference? Perhaps they learned a lesson the first time around, though I have my doubts.

Today I received a nice letter from Maureen McNeil and Cynthia L. Cooper about a book they are doing. Here’s what they said:

“March 15, 2010

Dear Participants in Anne Frank Prison Diary Project,

We are writing a book about the Prison Diary Project and would like to have your permission to include your diary. Please see the enclosed form and envelope, which must be signed and returned if your wok is to be included.

As currently planned, the book is about the remarkable journey of Anne Frank’s diary, read and replicated by contemporary inmate-writers participating in the Prison Diary Project of the Anne Frank Center in NYC since 2008. Built upon central themes in Anne Frank’s diary, we anticipate that this book will reflect on Loneliness, Hardship, Love, Loss, Confinement, Nature, Small Pleasures, Writing, New Beginnings, Self-knowledge and other topics. For you, as for Anne, diary writing became a personal travelogue. While locked inside, you dug into your inner self, learning to live in the moment and find richness in spare surroundings.

“I want to bring out all kinds of things that lie buried deep in my heart,” Anne writes at the onset of her diary excursions. Anne’s words are an enduring testament to the human spirit. This book brings her inspiration to a contemporary audience, offering a guide for all to overcome the barriers and walls they encounter through the search for personal freedom.

Cynthia L. Cooper is an award-winning journalist, playwright and author, whose books include, Mockery of Justice (Penguin), Who Said It Would Be Easy, (Arcade) and the soon-to-be released book of her play, Silence Not, A Love Story (Gihon River Press). Co-author Maureen McNeil, author of Red Stories Hook, is the Director of Education at the Anne Frank Center.

The book is a work in progress, so it may take awhile to complete, but a percentage of the proceeds will go to the Anne Frank Center to help with the upkeep [of] the Prison Writing Project and its archives.

Thank you for your help in making this book possible. We look forward to receiving your signed release form.



Maureen McNeil

Cynthia Cooper”

I hope they choose something other than my recollections of the KKK in prison!

The Anne Frank Prison Diary Project has spurred a ton of literary work from me the past almost two years, and I am grateful to the folks at the Anne Frank Center USA for their encouragement and support. It is a very worthy project to which I hope to continue to contribute. Of course, I would prefer to do that in freedom.

Two memoirs, two publications, two far different results. How can that be explained? I can’t.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Do you think that Mark Ober is a member of the KKK?? Colin Breen expresses a GREAT HATRED of black people and he is a member of the IRA involved in all kinds of domestic terrorism in Tampa and beyond. He's on a list that can't travel freely in Ireland so it's a known fact that he's dangerous, apparently. His business partner at Four Green Fields is Robert ONeill who is vying to be the new corrupt United States attorney for the Middle District of Florida. He also hails from norhtern Ireland via da Bronx. Now what's interesting about all of this is the watering hole mentality that leads ALL the federal and state prosecutors and many attorneys to the FGF. Colin and Robert's friends are numerous among the cops and sheriffs and those who reside in Tampa do so in TWO MILLION DOLLAR HOMES. Not ONE but TWO. Check it out for yourself on shellpoint drive in tampa and other places where tampa cops own WAY TOO MUCH real estate. Reading all these racism ties in the tommyz story sure smacks of familiarity in professed hatred for blacks by colin breen yet the willingness to do business with them as demonstrated by their participation in stalking for he and Robert ONeill. OF course, the subject matter is the relationshiop between mark ober and robert oneill which leads ober to send his SA office employees into peoples' gyms to stalk and harass them.
What do you think?