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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Efren Recieves Accolades About Poetry

The man that read Efren's poem "Pressure Mounts" at an August poetry event in Lansing recently sent Efren a letter with feedback about his poem. The man's name is Doak Bloss. Efren responded to Doak's correspondence with a letter of his own. We thought we would share both letters with you so you can enjoy the exchange of communications. Each of Efren's writings gives us another glimpse into his world and his perpetual evolution as a person and writer. Below is the text from both letters.


October 10, 2007

Dear Efren,

In August it was my privilege to perform your intense and evocative poem, “Pressure Mounts,” at a poetry reading in Lansing. The event was a benefit for ARRO, a local organization that helps formerly incarcerated men and women rejoin their communities and resume their lives.

The intensity with which you pour your experience into the three stanzas of this poem was appealing to me as a performer from the very start—I am an occasional actor as well as a writer and facilitator for a county health department—but when I learned of your own life story and the injustice you have endured, pressure began mounting within me as well. It was extremely important to me to do justice to your work once I learned some of the details of your experience with the police and the courts. Your parents were present at the reading and I hope that they will tell you I did capture at least some measure of the earnestness and intensity of your poem.

You do a wonderful job in this poem of marshalling verbs and adjectives in a nightmarish collage that also depicts one man’s progression from the vitality and hope of youth, which is gradually eroded and sapped by the incarceration, even as the push toward anger and retribution builds within (portrayed first as a kettle and its mist, then a volcano and its lava). It was very satisfying, as a performer, to play this parallel sense of mounting tension and diminishing will—especially as it arrives in the surprising last image: not one of rage or revenge at all, but of indominitability. In the end, your poem shows how, even as the human body undergoes such an intense assault, the spirit can survive, preserve, and maintain its dignity.

I have great faith that you will one day be free again. Although I know nothing can ever fully repair the damage done to you by the penal system, I also know in my heart that you will find great power in your ability to transform your experience in a way that illuminates life and truth for others.

Thank you again for the opportunity to read your words.

Doak Bloss



Dear Doak:

My family shared your letter with me regarding my poem "Pressure Mounts," which you read at the August poetry reading sponsored by A.R.R.O. at Gone Wired Cafe in Lansing.

Thank you for your encouraging words. I always enjoy receiving feedback about my writings and hearing how others perceive them. It is rewarding to know my words retain their meaning and that I can create a window for people to peer into my experience through my writings.

I appreciate you reading my poem at the poetry event. By participating as a reader you became a voice to the voiceless. You conveyed the spirit of my words and allowed them to transcend the walls that have kept me confined over 18 years for a crime I did not commit. However, though physically I am imprisoned, my mind and spirit can never be held captive. You proved this when you delivered my words the evening of the poetry event.

My writings are very personal to me. They are infused with my essence and are a reflection of my inner-most thoughts and feelings. Prison is designed to extinguish creativity and stifle all vestiges of hope. Its intent is to totally subdue human beings and make them complacent.

Each of my writings represents a victory. They are triumphs over a system intent on destroying my will. They are evidence that I can transform my creative thoughts into the written word even in the most oppressed conditions. My writings are a testament to the indomitable spirit I reference in "Pressure Mounts." One that endures myriad difficulties but remains resilient.

I encourage you to continue supporting A.R.R.O. and its mission. They are doing very important work which is desperately needed in our communities. Their role in the community rebuilding process can be characterized as heroic. They are doing what so many others do not have the courage to do. I support their efforts unequivocally.

I personally know the value of having support for a worthy cause. My struggle for justice has been long and arduous. It has also been replete with many disappointments. In my darkest hours, however, I have been able to draw strength from the outpouring of compassion that flows from the hearts of those dedicated to advancing my cause. Without that support my campaign, or any other, could not succeed.

Attached is a letter you are welcome to share with others about the egregious injustice surrounding my wrongful conviction. It is a tool I use to circulate so I can educate people about my case and other social injustices.

Thanks again, and I wish you continued success with all your endeavors.


Efren Paredes, Jr.