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May 2007

Behind Bars: Writings From Inside


We confess to smuggling out the arresting details, strong convictions, and guilty pleasures of these writings from prison. Fatos Lubonja recalls his chilling "Second Sentence." Fadhil al-Azzawi negotiates prison politics in "Cell Block Five." Khadija Marouazi's phobic captive rats out his innocent cellmate in "Biography of Ash," while Tirdad Zolghadr cuts a deal with his new "Friends." Jorge Garcia and Fidel Martinez's defiant women prisoners sing "The Ballad of Ventas Prison." Leena Lander's political activist in "The Order" writes her last letter to the foster father she served, then betrayed. Mario Benedetti reveals the captive unconscious in "He Dreamed That He Was in Prison." And in escapes from other forms of confinement, Guillermo Saavedra's "Runaway Country" captures a nation fleeing political and economic chaos, while Cuban exile and mental patient Guillermo Rosales "checks out" of his euphemistic "Boarding Home." We trust you'll be a captive audience.

from Second Sentence

February 1979 started with heavy snow, a biting wind, and the baying of the Alsatian kept by the guards to foil escape attempts. Superstitious prisoners claimed that the dog's howling at

from Cell Block Five

It took me some long months to realize that I was incarcerated. My dreams had suddenly ended. Like Zoroaster I awoke from a lengthy slumber to discover rudely and bitterly that justice does

from Biography of Ash

There, where my body seemed to lay a great distance from me, I put my hand on my leg, on my fingers, and I couldn't tell they were mine. My thighs. My legs. My waist. Everything was dry


A warden takes me by the arm as I slip on my blindfold and step out of the cell. I'm led down several corridors and seated down somewhere as a door swings shut behind me. I raise my

Ballad of Ventas Prison

cover image

From The Order

Translator's Note: The story takes place in 1918 Finland, right after the end of the Finnish Civil War, where some 30,000 Finns were killed, most by summary execution or in detention

He Dreamed That He Was in Prison

That prisoner dreamed that he was in prison. Naturally, the dreams had details and patterns. For example, on the wall of the dream there was a poster from Paris; on the real wall there was

Runaway Country

¡Argentina, Little green branch afire! -Ricardo E. Molinari LIGHT Fire? No: light. Flame? No: light. Light? Yes: this light. Light like this? No: like


Boarding Home

Introduction: Willie in Miami, Rey in Nueva York by Norberto Fuentes Three of us made up that sad brotherhood at the end of the Sixties in Cuba: Guillermo Rosales, Reinaldo Arenas, and

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