There was little blogging here yesterday because, after a visit to my chiropractor and breakfast at my favorite luncheonette, I met with Mike Peich, the recently retired head of the West Chester University Poetry Center, and drove off to the Cambria Community Center in North Philly. The CCC is a detention center, part of the Philadelphia Prison System. Mike and I were going there to hear Russell Goings read and speak to some of the men incarcerated there.
It was an extraordinary experience (The Inquirer will be having an article about it soon). Russ established contact with the men practically instantaneously. They knew this guy was the genuine article. Russ was completely respectful toward them, but pulled no punches. As for the guys, the didn't just respect Russ. By the time the event was over -- it lasted a good couple of hours -- I think they had come to love him. One said that it had been the most important day of his life. Some of the men even came up to Mike and me and my friend Bill Chaney to thank us for bringing Russ to talk to them. (It was actually Bill who made all the arrangements with the the warden; Bill and I are both retired, but we still get together regularly to arrange shipments of books from The Inquirer to the prison system.)
The men themselves were very well-spoken and sharp. I couldn't help wondering what the hell people like this were doing in jail (yeah, I know; they broke the law and got caught, but that's not my point). I wish them all well.