Poetry, Stories, Giving Voice to Incarcerated People

Presented By
Brian Daldorph, Barbara Stuber, Samantha Pettus

Poet Brian Daldorph taught, wrote with, and published the poetry of inmates at the Douglas County Jail in Lawrence, Kansas, for 20 years. In that time, he noticed consistent themes: unending pain, boredom, loneliness, and abandonment. He also found that his students behind bars used writing to come to grips with the choices they’d made and the kinds of people they had become. In other words, Daldorph learned that the writing of incarcerated people is very similar to the writing of those on the “outside” and is certainly relatable.

Novelist Barbara Stuber knew next to nothing about the lives of formerly incarcerated women until she began interviewing them in 2018 and sharing their stories for Journey House, a Kansas City re-entry shelter. Stuber came to see each story – including that of Journey House Manager Samantha Pettus – as both a gift and an invitation to examine her own misinformed assumptions and snap judgments.

Writings by and about the lives, experiences, and emotions of incarcerated or formerly incarcerated people keeps them human – names not numbers – and can serve to ease their reintegration into outside life. Daldorph, Stuber, and Pettus are joined by the Library’s Anne Kniggendorf in discussing how stories and poetry benefit not only this population but everyone.


Poetry, Stories, Giving Voice to Incarcerated People

Date & Location
Truman Forum Auditorium