Words From The House Of The Dead: Prison Writings From Soledad, Crossing Press, 1974. Photographed in the collection of Interference Archive which I finally visited yesterday.

Words From The House Of The Dead: Prison Writings From Soledad, Crossing Press, 1974. Photographed in the collection of Interference Archive which I finally visited yesterday.

Some of you may know that I’m also a member of the group Temporary Services and that we have a publishing imprint called Half Letter Press. Generally I allow things from the Half Letter Press tumblr to have their own separate life, but this was a big moment for our group, and for me personally, that I’d like to share with all of you.
halfletterpress:

This rather unexceptional photo depicts something that for us, is quite extraordinary.
One of Temporary Services’ best known projects is Prisoners’ Inventions. In 2003, WhiteWalls published the book Prisoners’ Inventions, written and illustrated by our collaborator Angelo—an incarcerated artist from California. Angelo illustrated many incredible inventions made by prisoners to fill needs that the restrictive environment of prison tries to suppress. The inventions cover everything from homemade sex dolls, condoms, and salt and pepper shakers to chess sets and electrical cooking devices. Working with Angelo entirely through the mail, as well as many other collaborators on the outside, we created an exhibition that traveled to multiple cities, worked with fabricators who used Angelo’s drawings to build a life-size copy of his prison cell, and received a great deal of critical and media attention for the ongoing project.
Angelo, however, had never seen a copy of his own book. Either a worker in the prison mail room stole it when we sent him one, or the book was prohibited because it depicts objects that are contraband to possess.
Marc Fischer from Temporary Services first met Angelo when Angelo wrote him a letter and included a drawing back in around 1991. Angelo had seen his cellmate’s copy of Fischer’s old music and political fanzine Primary Concern. When Temporary Services formed in 1998, Angelo became an early collaborator—first on an exhibition of his narrative fantasy drawings, and later on the project Prisoners’ Inventions. All this time, none of us had ever met Angelo in person or even spoken to him on the phone. There is no internet access in prison so all communications for this project and all else happened through the mail.
After nearly a quarter of a century behind bars, Angelo was released recently and after speaking to him on the phone for the first time a little over a week ago, Marc was able to visit him in Los Angeles. A bit from Marc about the visit:
"Some friends have asked if there was anything surprising about finally meeting Angelo. His personality was pretty much just as I expected it would be from our hundreds of letters: pleasant, calm, respectful, and not overly dramatic. He has an enjoyable sense of humor and a highly alert mind. Angelo is nearing 70 years old but looks very good physically for a guy that loves snack foods and hates vegetables. He attributes his good health to not smoking, drinking or doing drugs, and walking a lot. He applied for a library card and has been catching up on history books that he’s been wanting to read forever but couldn’t find while in prison. The only real surprise was his hair, which Angelo described as kind of a Wild Bill Hickok look, but I think it’s a bit beyond that. With big combed mutton chops and a long mustache that covers almost his entire mouth, he looks like he might have just stepped out of the Wild West, which, after so many years in the California Department of Corrections, he really has."
Angelo also brought gifts that he thought we might enjoy: an excellent-looking anthology of writings by prisoners that he hung onto until he was released, and two clothing items saved from a stretch in Administrative Segregation: a pair of slippers that are made from an awful cardboard-like material, and a pair of disposable underwear that feels like like it is made from paper.
The transition of returning to society after so many years behind bars is clearly a gradual one, but for now we are happy that Angelo is out and getting acclimated to the very different world he has been released into. We look forward to continued communication with him in a more direct way, and to getting the book Prisoners’ Inventions back in print as soon as we can.

Some of you may know that I’m also a member of the group Temporary Services and that we have a publishing imprint called Half Letter Press. Generally I allow things from the Half Letter Press tumblr to have their own separate life, but this was a big moment for our group, and for me personally, that I’d like to share with all of you.

halfletterpress:

This rather unexceptional photo depicts something that for us, is quite extraordinary.

One of Temporary Services’ best known projects is Prisoners’ Inventions. In 2003, WhiteWalls published the book Prisoners’ Inventions, written and illustrated by our collaborator Angelo—an incarcerated artist from California. Angelo illustrated many incredible inventions made by prisoners to fill needs that the restrictive environment of prison tries to suppress. The inventions cover everything from homemade sex dolls, condoms, and salt and pepper shakers to chess sets and electrical cooking devices. Working with Angelo entirely through the mail, as well as many other collaborators on the outside, we created an exhibition that traveled to multiple cities, worked with fabricators who used Angelo’s drawings to build a life-size copy of his prison cell, and received a great deal of critical and media attention for the ongoing project.

Angelo, however, had never seen a copy of his own book. Either a worker in the prison mail room stole it when we sent him one, or the book was prohibited because it depicts objects that are contraband to possess.

Marc Fischer from Temporary Services first met Angelo when Angelo wrote him a letter and included a drawing back in around 1991. Angelo had seen his cellmate’s copy of Fischer’s old music and political fanzine Primary Concern. When Temporary Services formed in 1998, Angelo became an early collaborator—first on an exhibition of his narrative fantasy drawings, and later on the project Prisoners’ Inventions. All this time, none of us had ever met Angelo in person or even spoken to him on the phone. There is no internet access in prison so all communications for this project and all else happened through the mail.

After nearly a quarter of a century behind bars, Angelo was released recently and after speaking to him on the phone for the first time a little over a week ago, Marc was able to visit him in Los Angeles. A bit from Marc about the visit:

"Some friends have asked if there was anything surprising about finally meeting Angelo. His personality was pretty much just as I expected it would be from our hundreds of letters: pleasant, calm, respectful, and not overly dramatic. He has an enjoyable sense of humor and a highly alert mind. Angelo is nearing 70 years old but looks very good physically for a guy that loves snack foods and hates vegetables. He attributes his good health to not smoking, drinking or doing drugs, and walking a lot. He applied for a library card and has been catching up on history books that he’s been wanting to read forever but couldn’t find while in prison. The only real surprise was his hair, which Angelo described as kind of a Wild Bill Hickok look, but I think it’s a bit beyond that. With big combed mutton chops and a long mustache that covers almost his entire mouth, he looks like he might have just stepped out of the Wild West, which, after so many years in the California Department of Corrections, he really has."

Angelo also brought gifts that he thought we might enjoy: an excellent-looking anthology of writings by prisoners that he hung onto until he was released, and two clothing items saved from a stretch in Administrative Segregation: a pair of slippers that are made from an awful cardboard-like material, and a pair of disposable underwear that feels like like it is made from paper.

The transition of returning to society after so many years behind bars is clearly a gradual one, but for now we are happy that Angelo is out and getting acclimated to the very different world he has been released into. We look forward to continued communication with him in a more direct way, and to getting the book Prisoners’ Inventions back in print as soon as we can.

An envelope drawing of an incarcerated extra terrestrial, from a letter mailed to me by a prisoner named Daren from Walla Walla, Washington back in 1991. This post is a Public Collectors Request Line fulfillment for textless who asked for decorated envelopes.

An envelope drawing of an incarcerated extra terrestrial, from a letter mailed to me by a prisoner named Daren from Walla Walla, Washington back in 1991.

This post is a Public Collectors Request Line fulfillment for textless who asked for decorated envelopes.

Fire In The Rain, Volume 2, Spring, 1987. Edited by Kathryn H. Greenwood. Cover design by Francis Weaver. A publication of poetry “by the men in the Creative Writing Workshop.” Though it is not indicated, I believe this was produced at Graterford Prison in Pennsylvania.

Fire In The Rain, Volume 2, Spring, 1987. Edited by Kathryn H. Greenwood. Cover design by Francis Weaver. A publication of poetry “by the men in the Creative Writing Workshop.” Though it is not indicated, I believe this was produced at Graterford Prison in Pennsylvania.

Miss Texas Prison Rodeo 1978: Susie Williams. Scanned from a program from the 47th Annual Texas Prison Rodeo in Huntsville, Texas. This program was found inside a copy of the record Beyond the Walls 1978 - The Huntsville Rodeo, The Eastham Band, a record of original country and western music recorded and composed by inmates of the Department of Corrections in Huntsville, Texas.

Miss Texas Prison Rodeo 1978: Susie Williams. Scanned from a program from the 47th Annual Texas Prison Rodeo in Huntsville, Texas. This program was found inside a copy of the record Beyond the Walls 1978 - The Huntsville Rodeo, The Eastham Band, a record of original country and western music recorded and composed by inmates of the Department of Corrections in Huntsville, Texas.

The cover of a program from the 47th Annual Texas Prison Rodeo in Huntsville, Texas. This was found inside a copy of the record Beyond the Walls 1978 - The Huntsville Rodeo, The Eastham Band, a record of original country and western music recorded and composed by inmates of the Department of Corrections in Huntsville, Texas. I have other records from this series of LPs featuring music performed by prisoners but this is the first time I’ve found a rodeo program.

The cover of a program from the 47th Annual Texas Prison Rodeo in Huntsville, Texas. This was found inside a copy of the record Beyond the Walls 1978 - The Huntsville Rodeo, The Eastham Band, a record of original country and western music recorded and composed by inmates of the Department of Corrections in Huntsville, Texas. I have other records from this series of LPs featuring music performed by prisoners but this is the first time I’ve found a rodeo program.

The back cover of Soledad Brother: The Prison Letters of George Jackson, published by Bantam Books, 1970. This book came from the library of McClure McCombs, a Professor of Sociology in Chicago who died on September 5, 2013. I found this book this morning at an estate sale at his house in Logan Square. Posted in reflection and memory of Herman Wallace who died on Thursday, October 3rd, days after being released from prison, where he spent 41 years in solitary confinement.

The back cover of Soledad Brother: The Prison Letters of George Jackson, published by Bantam Books, 1970. This book came from the library of McClure McCombs, a Professor of Sociology in Chicago who died on September 5, 2013. I found this book this morning at an estate sale at his house in Logan Square. Posted in reflection and memory of Herman Wallace who died on Thursday, October 3rd, days after being released from prison, where he spent 41 years in solitary confinement.

Soledad Brother: The Prison Letters of George Jackson, published by Bantam Books, 1970. I remember reading most or all of this book years ago, in college, but I never owned a copy. This book came from the library of McClure McCombs, a Professor of Sociology in Chicago who died on September 5, 2013. I found it at an estate sale at his house in Logan Square.

Soledad Brother: The Prison Letters of George Jackson, published by Bantam Books, 1970. I remember reading most or all of this book years ago, in college, but I never owned a copy. This book came from the library of McClure McCombs, a Professor of Sociology in Chicago who died on September 5, 2013. I found it at an estate sale at his house in Logan Square.

Photocopy art by an unknown artist, used as stationary in a letter I received from Paul Wright back in February 1990 when he was incarcerated in Washington state. Paul founded Prison Legal News around the same time that we were corresponding. The journal continues to this day.

Photocopy art by an unknown artist, used as stationary in a letter I received from Paul Wright back in February 1990 when he was incarcerated in Washington state. Paul founded Prison Legal News around the same time that we were corresponding. The journal continues to this day.

Photocopy art by an unknown artist, used as stationary in a letter I received from Paul Wright back in February 1990 when he was incarcerated in Washington state. Paul founded Prison Legal News around the same time that we were corresponding. The journal continues to this day.

Photocopy art by an unknown artist, used as stationary in a letter I received from Paul Wright back in February 1990 when he was incarcerated in Washington state. Paul founded Prison Legal News around the same time that we were corresponding. The journal continues to this day.

A photocopy of a drawing (circa 1990) by Jaime Sanchez. Sanchez was incarcerated in Arizona at the time that this was sent to me by a fellow prisoner from the same institution.

A photocopy of a drawing (circa 1990) by Jaime Sanchez. Sanchez was incarcerated in Arizona at the time that this was sent to me by a fellow prisoner from the same institution.

A photocopy of a 1990 drawing by Jaime Sanchez. Sanchez was incarcerated in Arizona at the time that this was sent to me by a fellow prisoner from the same institution.

A photocopy of a 1990 drawing by Jaime Sanchez. Sanchez was incarcerated in Arizona at the time that this was sent to me by a fellow prisoner from the same institution.

Prison envelope art by Danny Davis, who was incarcerated in Gatesville, Texas when he sent me this letter in 1991.

Prison envelope art by Danny Davis, who was incarcerated in Gatesville, Texas when he sent me this letter in 1991.

This drawing by J.W. Karr, Jr. was scanned from a photocopied, comb-bound book of tattoo designs that he sent me in the early 1990s. At the time, Karr was incarcerated in Clawson, Michigan.

This drawing by J.W. Karr, Jr. was scanned from a photocopied, comb-bound book of tattoo designs that he sent me in the early 1990s. At the time, Karr was incarcerated in Clawson, Michigan.

Unsigned, undated ballpoint pen drawing (circa early 1990s) sent to me by an artist in prison. I believe this is by Kevin Fink, who was incarcerated in Walla Walla State Penitentiary in Washington.

Unsigned, undated ballpoint pen drawing (circa early 1990s) sent to me by an artist in prison. I believe this is by Kevin Fink, who was incarcerated in Walla Walla State Penitentiary in Washington.