Q & A with Spoon Jackson
Co-author of By Heart: Poetry, Prison, and Two Lives

What are you in prison for?
I was convicted of first degree murder. I have served thirty-two years for the killing and I take full responsibility for that loss of life.

Do you have remorse?
Every day, sometimes every moment. I messed up big time and I know I cannot bring back the life that I took. This is a forever wound on my soul and heart. But I can make sure my walk on Mother Earth for the rest of my life is one of service, peace, and love.

Why did you write this book?
Because I am a writer and I wanted to do a writing project with Judith Tannenbaum. Since the days we met at San Quentin in the 1980s, my dream has been for the two of us to do poetry readings and projects. Also, I hope the book will help me make amends for the wrong I did.

Why should anyone read a book by a convicted murderer?
Hopefully By Heart will open the eyes of, inspire, and detour wayward youth and others from the dark path that led me to prison. I know such is a reoccurring theme of authors who are serving, or have served, time in prison. Yet this kind of enlightenment is what happens sometimes when you wake up to the real: you want to do what is healing and self-rehabilitating.

Do you think you deserve a second chance?
No, I don't think I deserve anything. Sometimes I think I owe my life for taking a life. My finding, or creating, redemption for the wrong I've done does not depend on my ever seeing the streets again. My hope and dream is that I've made amends and peace. I have not given up on getting out of prison. I have just let go and live as I live in the moment. If Mother Earth, karma, Goddess, God, the universe, or whatever forces govern love, life or time prefer that I spend the rest of my physical life behind bars, who am I to complain?

Do you have a main point you’d like a reader to take away after reading By Heart?
By Heart has many doors through which a reader can enter, and if someone doesn’t find a door, he or she can climb in through a window. One main point is that, as human beings, we all have one foot in darkness and one foot in light. I hope readers will feel that I’ve balanced my walk by creating By Heart.