Felon: An American Washi Tale

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In this virtual performance and discussion, Reginald Dwayne Betts, 2021-2022 Artist in Residence at the Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study, will perform an excerpt of his one-man show, "Felon: An American Washi Tale." The work explores a central question of incarceration: how much paper is required to free a person? Following the performance, Betts will lead a discussion of the themes explored in the excerpt: prison, handmade paper, post-conviction relief, and the collateral consequences of prison.

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A poet and lawyer, Betts transformed himself from a sixteen-year-old kid sentenced to nine years in prison to a critically acclaimed writer and graduate of Yale Law School. He has written three acclaimed collections of poetry, the recently published Felon, Bastards of the Reagan Era, and Shahid Reads His Own Palm. His memoir, A Question of Freedom: A Memoir of Learning, Survival, and Coming of Age in Prison, is the story of a young man confined in the worst prisons in the state of Virginia, where solitary confinement, horrific conditions, and the constant violence threatened to break his humanity. Instead, Betts used the time to turn himself into a poet, a scholar, and an advocate for the reform of the criminal justice system.

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