The Bayou Review is a literary magazine published by students of the University of Houston-Downtown. It includes poetry, fiction, essays, reviews and visual art. Since its inception in 1987, the magazine has primarily been a venue for the publication of works by UHD students, faculty and staff. The Spring 2018 issue marks the first time that an issue will solely focus on submissions from incarcerated men.
“Working on this prison issue has been huge because a lot of people, myself included, have been affected and, up to a certain extent, part of the [prison] system,” Bayou Review prose editor, Christopher Flakus said. “So, being able to give a voice to the ‘voiceless’ is the thing I’ve done in my life that I am most proud of.”
The journal will be released April 26 and a public reading will be held at 8 p.m. on April 28 at Under the Radar Brewery, 1506 Truxillo St. in Houston, where it will be available for purchase. Admission is free and attendees can expect to hear live music and original readings. The UHD community, faculty and students alike, are encouraged to attend and share their own works if so inclined.
Also in attendance at the reading will be the team from KPFT Prison Show, which assisted in gathering submissions from Texas prisons, Danny Sneed from Vivian King’s “Truth and Justice” TV/Radio Show, Gay and Prison rights activist Ray Hill and Death Penalty abolitionist groups.
General editor, Michelle Laird, stepped out of her comfort zone when she accepted this position, but putting this issue together has sparked a greater interest in criminal justice advocacy.
“I wanted to keep the writing as true to their voices as possible and present it in the best, most professional way so that the inmates can be proud of what they produced,” she said. “I wanted other people to see that inmate writing is just as important as other writings.”
While the United States represents about 4.4 percent of the world’s population, it houses around 22 percent of the world’s prisoners.
“The purpose of writing is to tell stories, especially from different perspectives and it’s important to get the perspectives of this sector of the population because the prison industrial complex is a major part of America,” Archie Gayle, poetry editor said. “It’s important for both the incarcerated individuals and the public. For the inmates, they find it therapeutic and get to share their stories with the world. And for the public, it humanizes people who live their lives inside of a prison.”
The Bayou Review team, made up of student editors and interns and faculty advisor Professor Daniel Peña, is incredibly proud and excited to share this with the public.