A Question of Freedom: A Memoir of Learning, Survival, and Coming of Age in Prison

A Question of Freedom: A Memoir of Learning, Survival, and Coming of Age in Prison

by R. Dwayne Betts
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A Question of Freedom: A Memoir of Learning, Survival, and Coming of Age in Prison by R. Dwayne Betts

"I'm 5'6" or so and can pace the entire cell lengthwise in three short steps, one long. When I jump, the ceiling still hangs just outside my reach. I jump to test my boundaries, reach up and see how much the cell contains me. It contains me fully. But I keep jumping, I'm a trapped animal measuring my confinement as if effort will bring down these walls, as if I'll jump, and for one second become Magic Johnson after he found out he had HIV. So I fantasize like a kid. It's the last second of the NBA All-Star Game and I have the rock. I pump fake, jab step and then take two dribbles to the right. The crowd erupts when I jump. The ball is released, it's headed in. It swishes. When I land on my feet I'm still in the cell. The crowd is a bunch of men hollering for food and telephones and attention. Ain't shit changed, this cell more like a cage than anything else, or a fist closing around my sanity. And I'm dreaming on my feet, playacting like I'm still a kid. Lost in it too just like you get lost in a dream, with everything bleeding into itself until what's real and fake isn't important, so much as what you see, and all I see is the ceiling just outside my reach. . . ."

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781583333488
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 08/06/2009
Pages: 256
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range: 14 Years

About the Author

R. Dwayne Betts was raised the only child of a single mother in Suitland, MD. At sixteen years old he carjacked a man and began the journey that would end with a nine year prison sentence in some of the toughest adult prisons in Virginia.

The day he was released Dwayne walked into the world committed to proving his life wouldn’t be reduced to the thirty seconds he held a gun in his hand. Since that day, Dwayne has had his poetry published in many national literary journals and contributed an essay to Marita Golden’s anthology It’s All Love. He has been awarded the Holden Fellowship from MFA program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. A Cave Canem fellow, his poetry has appeared in Ploughshares, Crab Orchard Review and Poet Lore among others. He is a Breadloaf Writer’s Conference scholarship recipient and a graduate of Prince George’s Community College in Largo, MD and the University of Maryland in College Park, MD. He was recently given the honor of addressing his fellow graduates. In May, 2010, his book of poems, Shahid Reads His Own Palm will be published by Alice James Books.

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A Question of Freedom: A Memoir of Learning, Survival, and Coming of Age in Prison 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was prompted to purchase this book after seeing an interview with the author on television. This is a story of introspection peppered with prison anecdotes. A tale of how a young man grows up in the system with little guidance or mentoring.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed the book with a compelling subject and inspirational task.Great to see new writers of color.
authorof053803 More than 1 year ago
Here's the story about an intelligent kid (not a thug) that grew up in a predominately Black area. The one older person he admires tells him how he got revenge on the police that abused him by carjacking "a whitey". Having never spoken to a white person himself, Betts honors his Peer by imitating his crime. He is sentenced to 9 years in an adult prison, where he spends the majority of his time, improving himself while seeking out (the knowledge) that will appease his desire to understand who he really is. Transferred from one prison to another, some bad some not so bad, he experiences a series of epiphanies, that mark his progress, told in such a way that can only be described as remarkable. He gets into trouble and goes to confinement frequently to read and contemplate his goals with less distraction. Towards the end of his sentence he teaches himself another language and describes prison as the most culturally diverse place he'd been to up to that point. But through it all he describes his time as being very alone. Betts did his time his way and left the same way he came in "alone". "VENI VIDI VICI!
LizPowers More than 1 year ago
"A Question of Freedom" is a must read! This is an amazing testament to R. Dwayne Betts' resiliency and determination and exposes the failure of laws that passed in the 1990's to prosecute and lock up more kids in the adult criminal justice system. Dwayne is a gifted writer and his writing gives us incredible insights into how the criminal justice system really works. The author will be speaking on a book tour and dates/times can be found on his website under his name. Congratulations to R. Dwayne Betts for his amazing work!