portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article

arts and culture | imperialism & war | prisons & prisoners

A Beautiful Mind on Death Row

A new book and website from death row.
A Beautiful Mind on Death Row
A Beautiful Mind on Death Row

A Beautiful Mind on Death Row

Pennsylvania -- "...I ain't had a woman in a long damn time. And you wanna know why I got an attitude? I live inside my head. The most beautiful place in the world."

So ends the title poem from Inside My Head, (iuniverse, ISBN: 0-595-21920-9, $12.95, April, 2002) a new book of poems by Pennsylvania death row inmate Reginald S. Lewis. He divides 69 poems into four sections, then invites the reader to take a front seat on a fast moving train fleeting through the topography of his mind.

Lewis writes poems about the disconcerted lives of men and women in prison and on death row, about a biracial teen's suicide, his own crack-addicted sister's tortured life, a young pimp's brutal murder, even a frustrated actress turned serial killer.

Other poems recount his correspondence with the late Gwendolyn Brooks, racial profiling, the women in Afghanistan, Osama Bin Laden, war, and the tragic events of September 11, 2001.

"I want to burrow deep into my soul, through a process of the self-examination of my masculine psyche, my political consciousness and world views -- shaped and mortised by my almost two decades long confinement on death row," writes Lewis, who was once a member of 12th and Oxford Street gang in Philly, and a member of the Nation of Islam in its heyday, where he was known as Squad Leader Reginald 26X. These days, he is a member of the Academy of American Poets - and the National Book Critics Circle.

In 1983, Lewis was convicted of the stabbing death of a man in a Philadelphia bar. He was tried by the notorious Albert F. Sabo, a judge who has sent more poor black defendants to death row than any other acting judge. An all-white jury sentenced him to death. Reggie Lewis claims he was in California at the time.

An autodidact, Lewis has penned poems, essays, plays, and short stories that were published in countless publications and several countries.

Lewis's work has garnered three P.E.N. American Center writing awards for prisoners. Two of his children's plays were professionally produced. His first book of poems, Leaving Death Row, received wide acclaim. The last chapter in his new book of poems is a beautiful montage of interconnected dreams, personal memories, and slice-of-prison-life musings. Inside My Head is a work of lyrical genius - a book that will earn Reggie Lewis the title of the best imprisoned poet in America.

Editors: For review copies or interviews with this self-published author, contact: Reginald S. Lewis, #AY2902, 175 Progress Drive, Waynesburg, PA 15370-8089.

Readers/Bookstores can order copies of this new book by calling toll free: 1-877-823-9235, or visiting:
Barnes & Noble (www.bn.com), Amazon.com, and Booksamillion.com.

Please visit www.reginaldslewis.com for more information.

homepage: homepage: http://www.reginaldslewis.com

This Seem like and Ad to me. 20.Oct.2002 08:03

buy ad space.

I really care about keeping indy media on commerical

Ad watcher

what do other folks think? 20.Oct.2002 12:33

pdx indy volunteer

at an editorial meeting several months back, pdx indy volunteers consensed that it would be okay to hide posts that were advertisements. not that anything would be automatically hid, but that people would be empowered to do so if they agreed on it, on a case-by-case basis. (this notation never got added to the editorial policy -- better get to that soon...)

what do folks think? is this an advertisement that should be hidden or does it's content (literary content by a prisoner) make it different?

Ads 20.Oct.2002 12:50

johnny on the spots

I dont really mind so much as long as they are few and far between and relevant to the site. i liked the post on the 24k gold dipped rose for only 19.95 -NOW THATS WHAT I CALL A FANCYPANTS BARGIN!!

definitely commercial 20.Oct.2002 12:55


I think it's pretty obvious that the primary purpose of this post is to sell copies of the book. Actually, that's the only purpose of the post above. Don't let adcreep happen on indymedia.

commercialization 20.Oct.2002 13:21

peace rebel girl

i personally do want to see the words 'amazon.com' in an indy article.

excerpts from a book, such as this one, are cool. but if people have interest in purchasing it, they are capable of doing that on their own.

book review? 20.Oct.2002 16:04


IMO this seems like a book review--even if the links (which thankfully are not to amazon.com) go to a "commercial" site where the book is for sale, people have a choice whether to buy it or not. (i would go into detail about my view of 'ads' on imc, but i don't want to tip the hat too much).

hell, maybe Trilobite ("Trilox") can post some rush limbaugh biography review here.

again, i like the idea of just having different sections for stuff like OP/ED and then maybe you could suck out bits most 'suitable' (even if it is a "right wing" argument, so long as it makes sense) and link them from the main/feature page.

death row 20.Oct.2002 17:36

... akira666@uswest.net

Geeez people!

Tell me again how often you see ANYTHING get self-published from death row? Hmmm, let me see, ummm, NEVER maybe?!?

This post seems to have a couple purposes to me. 1) sell copies of the book so that maybe, just maybe in a million years, someone who is currently under penalty of death, DEATH, can get adequate legal representation, and 2) raise awareness about the realities of death row in amerikka.

Now, you tell me, isn't Portland IndyMedia supposed to be a place to raise awareness about these kinds of issues? If not, what the hell is IndyMedia for?

Is this just another message board for priviledged white people? It's sure starting to look like it. I honestly find it extremely offensive that the editorial board of this site, and many of the users, will defend the rights of NAZI'S to post here, yet people are lining up to slam a black self-published poet, trying to reach out to YOU from death f***ing row.

And you people wonder why the left is so screwed up. Check it out people, no matter what kind of 'activism' you are doing, you have got to deal with prison issues. Why? Go read the Patriot act and find out.

If you don't want to buy the book, don't buy it. But give the man some credit for being able to post anything at all from death row in the first place and go check out his site. You may find out you don't know everything about the US "justice" system you thought you did.