Skip to content

Book of the Week: Convicts Shoot the Breeze: A Book of Prison Haiku by Johnny Baranski

An excerpt from the Graceguts article, Johnny Baranski: A Poet of Conviction – “What we do not learn, but see hints of, is that Johnny spent time in prison after his arrests for nonviolent resistance to war and the Trident nuclear weapon system. As a result of repeated protest actions over many years, he spent two to three years of his life in prison. He was a man of firm conscience, yet his resolve was quiet, as shown in his many poems about prison life and poems of social consciousness.”

In the Preface to Convicts, Johnny writes “Prison haiku? Why not. In prison, stripped and emptied of all that is meaningless, the haiku poet is held captive instead by images that reflect the true nature of liberation.”

Additional books by Johnny in the digital library include Beads of Glass: A Rosary Haiku Sequence, Fish Pond Moon, Hitch Haiku, Just a Stone’s Throw, Silent Silos: A CounterBOMB Haiku Sequence and White Rose, Red Rose.

Sleepless night—
moon-cast cell bars’ shadows
lay on the stone cot

As the fog lifts
the prison’s gray stone walls
reach for the sky

Jail visitor:
the warmth of her eyes
through bulletproof glass

Moonlit spider
web weaving
cell bar to cell bar

You can read the entire book in the THF Digital Library and please share your favorite poem from the book with us.

Do you have a chapbook published in 2016 or earlier that you would like featured as a Book of the Week? Contact us for details. Haiku featured in the Book of the Week Archive are selected by THF Digital Librarian Dan Campbell and are used with permission.

Johnny Baranski

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Dan, I’d like to read the book, but the link takes me to a log in screen that asks for my username and password for the Digital Library. I can’t see any signup link there…

Comments are closed.

Back To Top