by Steve Champion (Adisa Kamara), incarcerated since 1982 on San Quentin's death row
There are certain comforts we include in our life to make it enjoyable. I do not criticise anyone for that. Material things might bring some comforts, but when those material things disappear, or are not present - what you truly value must come from within. I recognised this early on in my prison experience, that no matter where I was housed or what I didn't have, my value stems from what I build inside of me. And no amount of incarceration or oppression is going to take that away from me.
If you draw water from a well and do nothing to replenish what you withdraw, the well eventually will become empty. It is the same with inner strength. If you don't build up reserves and perform rituals to expel the toxins that latch onto the subconscious and reinforce the essence of who you are on a daily basis, you will easily fall prey to the litany of vices that destroy the soul. I refuse to let that happen. I exercise regularly and meditate every day. I try to eat healthily, I read literature that illuminates, enlightens and transforms my mind. I check in on myself and take inventory of myself to make sure I'm okay.
We are social beings and need social interaction and stimuli to reinforce our communal spirit. Prison has a way of isolating you and decapitating human connections to the social world. The reality is, any person who serves a long period of time incarcerated will lose social bonds and relationships he once knew. People change and sometimes changes they make exclude you from their life. People will grow older and some will pass away. Sometimes people retreat into their own world and as time goes on you become a fading memory. Recognising this, I fight to renew my connection to the outside world. My writing has facilitated this prospect.
Writing is like breathing for me. It allows me to explore the inner region of my soul and discover new things about myself. Writing, like reading, allows me to travel without moving. Im able to escape the circumscribe mantle of my confinement and connect to the social world Ive been separated from. Every day I wake up with a central purpose that motivates me to keep moving forward.
Anytime you create or produce something like a poem or writing, naturally, you want it to do well. the fact is, I can't control or determine the outcome of my work. My job as a writer is to create the best writing I can and let the rest take care of itself. I hope for the best, but I can't be attached to the outcome.
Steve Champion (Adisa Kamara)
Poetry, writing & Lessons in Life from San Quentin death row