Sean J. White was awarded Second Place in Poetry in the 2018 Prison Writing Contest.

Every year, hundreds of imprisoned people from around the country submit poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and dramatic works to PEN America’s Prison Writing Contest, one of the few outlets of free expression for the country’s incarcerated population. On September 13, PEN America will celebrate the winners of this year’s contest with a live reading at the Brooklyn Book Festival, Break Out: Voices from the Inside.

Discovery after twenty years in prison

Sometimes I fear
I might be
A sociopath
I have such
A propensity
For violence
Whether actual
Physical assault
The dream of it
Or bare-toothed
The only thing
People seem
To understand
When wolves
Were reintroduced
to Yellowstone
Herds of ruminants
Clumped closer
This morning
I attacked
A collection
A woman wrote
Her autistic son
My jaw ached
Fighting back tears