Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date




Publication Title

Joe Lockard and Sharon Rankins-Robertson (Eds.). Prison Pedagogies: Learning and Teaching with Imprisoned Writers. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press




(First paragraph) In 2016, we began facilitating a reading group at the Norfolk City Jail. Once a week during the semester, we met with six to eight men who qualified for "program privileges" and thus were given the option by jail staff to participate in the reading group. Each week we gathered to discuss the day's reading in what passed for a classroom inside the jail: a noisy corridor that connected two cellblocks. Against one wall there were four white picnic tables, bolted down to the floor, stacked one after the other. Though those accommodations were better suited for cafeteria-style dining than collective study, we did our best to position our bodies so as to bend sharp angles into a passable circle.

Original Publication Citation

McDowell, M., & Reed, A. (2018). “Can a poem stop a jail from being built?”: On fugitive counter-ethics as prison pedagogy. In Lockard J. & Rankins-Robertson S. (Eds.), Prison pedagogies: Learning and teaching with imprisoned writers (pp. 148-168). Syracuse, New York: Syracuse University Press. doi:10.2307/j.ctt20p5732.14