The Prison Notebook // Call for Responses

I recently discovered 19 letters which my mother sent me from prison.  The letters were written between 1997 and 1999, during which time my mother was imprisoned for drug related crimes.  She now lives in Cleveland, Ohio.  She is my dearest friend, a profoundly astute radical thinker and activist, an avid reader, and a woman who has a greater sense of redemptive care than anyone I have ever encountered.

On the advice of a dear friend, I am putting a call out for responses to these letters as a way of engaging with them nearly 15 years after I initially received them.  They are emotionally complex objects for me and it is difficult for me to imagine digesting them all these years later without the help of friends, lovers, and family members, queer and otherwise.  My memory of this time and its impact on my life are directly related to my understanding of radical queerness; being marked; having lost and having again regained a belief in my ability to be loved and to love.

Therefore, I am asking 18 people (I will respond to one letter myself) to volunteer to respond to one letter each in any format which they find appropriate.  The only limitation I will impose on the form of this response is that it should lend itself to being compiled in book form.  Nevertheless, this is a very broad limit.  For example, if you are a sculptor, you might make something three dimensional which can be photographed for inclusion in the final aggregation.  If you are a dancer, you might undertake a piece which could be photographed or recorded.  Of course, written responses are also welcome.

If you are interested in responding to a letter, please contact me at thisisdarren@gmail.com.  From there, I will dispatch one letter to you at an address of your choosing.  All I ask is that you return the letter along with your response (or instructions on how to access your response) within one month.  When I have received all of the responses, I will begin the process of compiling them into a book, likely to be framed by an essay.  The future life of this final compendium is to be determined.

Should you have any further questions, wish for further context, or if you have any particular ideas about the life of this project beyond the response phase, please feel free to contact me.

With love,

dp

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