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Lawyer-Poet Reginald Dwayne Betts On "Felon," His Latest Collection Of Poems

Photo by Mamadi Doumbouya

(This program originally aired on October 23, 2019.)

Tom’s guest in this archived edition of Midday is Reginald Dwayne Betts. He came to our attention last year when he wrote a wonderful piece in The New York Times Magazine entitled, “Could an Ex-Convict Become an Attorney? I Intended to Find Out.” He won a National Magazine Award for that essay. 

Betts grew up not far from here, in Suitland, Maryland, in Prince George’s County. When he was 16, he was part of a group that committed an armed car-jacking. For that crime, he spent eight years and three months in adult prisons, including many months in solitary confinement.

After his release from prison, Mr. Betts attended Prince George’s Community College. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland College Park, and an MFA in poetry from Warren Wilson College in North Carolina. He then went on to get a law degree from Yale.

It was in prison that he started reading and writing poetry. His latest collection is called Felon. He is the author of two previous collections, Bastards of the Reagan Era and Shahid Reads His Own Palm

(This conversation was pre-recorded, so we were unable to take any listener calls or messaging.)

Host, Midday (M-F 12:00-1:00)