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Poetry Program Helps Those Returning From Incarceration Make Transition

A photo of a blank notebook with a pencil. [pada smith/Shutterstock]
A photo of a blank notebook with a pencil. [pada smith/Shutterstock

Every year, more than 20,000 people are released from prisons in Ohio.  Making a successful transition back into mainstream society is crucial for those returning from incarceration.  A number of programs exist to help with obtaining a GED, providing job training skills and counseling.

A new series from Ideastream Public Media, called Poetic Reentry, looks at how poetry has helped a group of formerly incarcerated men find their way to a different life. The men share some of the pieces they wrote while they were in prison, and talk about how it has influenced their lives on the outside.

Most of the men participated in the  ID13 Prison Literacy Project, devoted to providing a voice, an outlet, and a platform for incarcerated individuals at various correctional institutions in the state of Ohio.

You will hear a new installment of the series each week on All Things Considered. You can also check out the series main landing page for additional installments.

Later in the program,  friends and writers Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus are collectively known as "The Minimalists". Some of may have heard of them because of their website, books, podcast, and Netflix films.   By teaching people to live with less, these men are credited with helping more than 20 million people live more meaningful lives. But they learned the lessons they teach, through their own pain  from divorce to depression to bankruptcy. Their new book, "Love People, Use Things: Because the Opposite Never Works", is their latest guide to better living for the rest of us.

The pair, on their website, describe minimalism as a tool to help people find freedom from emotions such as guilt and fear as well as freedoms from the consumer culture.

The authors say there is nothing inherently wrong with material possessions.  The issue, they say is the meaning we assign to “our stuff” which tends to be outsized  forsaking our health, relationships and personal growth.

Minimalism can be as varied as those who call themselves minimalists.  The authors say on their website that minimalism is a tool to help you shed life’s excesses in favor of what’s important to find greater fulfillment.

Justin Glanville, Reporter/Producer, Ideastream Public Media 
Cardell Belfoure, ID13 Prison Literacy Project Member
Christoher Dum, Co-Founder, ID13 Prison Literacy Project
Joshua Fields Millburn, The Minimalists, Co-Author, Love People, Use Things: Because the Opposite Never Works 
Ryan Nicodemus, The Minimalists, Co-Author, Love People, Use Things: Because the Opposite Never Works 

Leigh Barr is a coordinating producer for the "Sound of Ideas" and the "Sound of Ideas Reporters Roundtable."