I never thought I would be writing to an inmate.
I never thought I would be sending letters and cards to a blogger friend who was incarcerated.
I never thought that one of the most generous and loving “imaginary friends” that I have met in all of my blogging years would be THAT friend.
But it was and she was and today I am compelled to share my friend Ra with you.
I first started following Ra who blogs at Rarasaur years ago. Her writing was intense, deep, moving and inspirational. Ra shared her big heart with all of us who stopped by and always had a kind word. I was hooked.
Sometimes I wonder how we happen upon other people online and I don’t really remember how I found Ra but it really doesn’t matter. I love her. Her writing always made me dig deeper into myself and think harder about what I believe.
One of the sweetest things ever was when Ra offered to send followers a little bit of love by sending us friendship bracelets. This was in 2013 and I found the envelope and black and white bracelet tucked away in the box where I keep my most special things.
I never wore it but I knew it was there and I loved that she took the time to send it.
In May of 2014 I found out the news that Ra was going to jail after she surrendered herself to the police when she was charged with 247 felonies related to white collar crimes.
Certainly this could not be my sweet Ra who was going to jail. But it was and she did,
I tried to keep up with her via a great network of bloggers and her husband, Dave, who tried to post updates and addresses and information. I wrote several times but not nearly enough. She always wrote back. I worried about her. A bunch of her friends got together and made a little book of support for her and I was happy to add my very inadequate words to the pages.Prison is not a fun place (huge understatement) and there were so many things that were working against her. But true to Ra’s usual form she kept her spirits up by writing and trying to cheer up others. Because that is just who Ra is.
I can’t tell you it all turned out happy and wonderful. While Ra was incarcerated her beloved husband died unexpectedly. Her life as she knew it in the outside world would be forever changed.
I can’t imagine.
Ra was released after she spent 438 days in different facilities. Just recently she was released from parole as well. I am so happy that this chapter of her life is behind her but the memories – oh the memories- will always be a part of who she is.
I had hoped that Ra would write a book about her experiences and her first book of poetry has been released. Sack Nasty is not a light time waster to read frivolously. It is intense.
I think that some of the hardest things to read are the ones I am meant to read. I am forever changed. Ra has done that for me. I am so grateful.
You might remember this blog post where Ra wrote so eloquently for me about the importance of allowing prisoners access to books. It highlighted one of her passions –a program called Women’s Prison Book Project which was a Comments for a Cause recipient. I love that she shared this with me and that I was able to share with you as well.
So what is Sack Nasty about? It is a look inside prison. The title is taken from the name that inmates call the sack meals that they are given unceremoniously.
I would urge you to buy this book. You can go to Ra’s blog page here that will give you all the information about how to buy a copy of your own.
I am touched by Ra’s inscription in my copy of Sack Nasty and love that I have my own copy. Ra is the superhero. Not me. If I had a fraction of the goodness and talent that she possesses I would be happy.
Here is my review as posted on Goodreads and Amazon.
Gritty. Gut wrenching. Honest. Heart breaking. Broken. Eye opening.
These are all words that can describe the writing found between the covers of Sack Nasty: Prison Poetry by Ra Avis.
Inspiring. Hopeful. Healing. Accepting. Brilliant.
These are also words that describe the writing of the amazing Ra Avis who came out of her prison experience a changed woman. I can not even begin to imagine the life of an inmate and Ra has opened my eyes once again to what life on the other side of the bars can be like. It is not easy to read the references to abuse and emotional distress that many inmates have to endure. Ra’s voice in the darkness rings out loud and clear and challenges each reader to take a step back and really think about what we are doing as a country to our prisoners.
Sack Nasty opened my eyes. It also opened my heart. Through all of the sadness and the words that the author writes that encompass her 438 days of incarceration I found a thread of hope and positivity because that is who she is. Ra shares experiences of times spent with other inmates where she was able to offer support and love –things that are rarely found behind prison bars. In her writings I find hope and inspiration that one person –just one person–can make a difference in one small way in any situation that they find themselves in.
Did Ra Avis make a difference. An emphatic YES! Is she continuing to make a difference upon her release? Another emphatic YES!
Ra’s genius writing has inspired me for years and her book Sack Nasty touched me in ways that are hard to put into words. I always tout that good comes out of bad and if one life is touched by reading Ra’s amazing book then maybe that is the good that I need to look for. To say that this was an easy book to read would be a huge lie. It hurt to read many of the selections but read them I did because growth comes from doing the things that are the hardest.
If you want to read a book that will touch your soul this is the one. Don’t wait to read it. Pick it up and be prepared to be amazed at the stories that are shared and the emotions that you experience after each selection. But don’t let it stop when you finish the book. Go out and make a difference somehow. Because that is what dinosaurs do. They love and make a difference
19 CommentsLeave a comment
Wow I remember Ra and her blog. It Is Just Life, isn’t ? And some people keep on making a difference no matter what their life circumstances. Ra is one of those people. Thanks for keeping us in touch. And I am so sorry about her husband–that is a heart breaker. <3
She blogs at Rarasaur and yes—-she keeps making a difference. When I found out she was going to prison I was heart broken but somehow she survived and lived through it and is back doing what she does best. She is one of THE best writers I know and I only wish happiness and success for her.
Wow. I’ll go get a copy.
Thanks, Dawn . She is really talented. I don’t think you will be disappointed . She also has the option of paying a little bit more so that some folks who can’t afford a copy can be gifted one. So totally Ra.
Whoa! I just read her “Ungroomed Grief” . You are so right! Her writing is amazing. These words, in particular, stood out for me:
“We get to learn from life, as we go, and the beauty of being a part of a collection of people is that we get to learn how to live life from each other’s lessons.”
“Hearts grow. Hearts heal. Hearts break. Hearts, like all of us, dwell in possibility.”
She is amazing. No doubt about it. Thanks for gotten to read more.
I agree with your personal Ra assessment. If everyone were Ra or had just a fraction of what makes Ra tick, the world would be a better place. I met Ra (online) via you, and would like to add that you, like Ra make the world a better place. The world will never thank either of you for this, but I will. Thank you Beth & thank you Ra, for your ray of sunlight that lights the world, which so often seems like an otherwise cloudy day!
Josh–I did not realize that you had started following Ra. Isn’t she just amazing?? I think if we all surrounded ourselves with people like Ra the world would be an even more amazing place. Thanks for stopping by!
“I think that some of the hardest things to read are the ones I am meant to read. I am forever changed.”
WOW, is that true. And you are a good being.
Aw. Thanks, Susan. It is such a powerful reminder of how little I know and how much I have yet to learn in this world.
Everything she said and everyone else has said about this book. It’s a hard story told wonderfully by a great and courageous lady. Thanks for this story of friendship and a super review of the book.
Thanks for stopping by, Di, and taking the time to comment. We all agree. She is a wonderful gift to the world.
We are eagerly awaiting our copy of #SackNasty here in the UK. I know it will be a difficult read but I trust Ra’s words. She writes with honesty, emotion and compassion. Thank you for sharing your review.
Your compliments are well founded: Ra really does make the world a brighter place – I don’t think that can be overstated. She has truly changed my life and continues to do so every day. I consider myself lucky to have found her.
I think we all agree on this one, Dan! Thanks so much for taking the time to stop by and leave a comment. I really appreciate that and I know Ra does as well.
Glad I found this (finally through the backlog of e-mail, reading my blog feed again).
Oh I hear you—-if I get behind on reading there is no catching up! Thanks for taking the time to stop by and comment! Missed you!
Incredible! People like Ra are the real superheroes. Thanks for promoting her book and letting us get to know her through your blog. I remember the comments for a cause blog. Bless her and you.
She is amazing. Thanks for supporting her as well.
[…] Prison Poetry after her incarceration. If you would like to read my blog post on that book click here. This book has a somewhat different tone from that book and rightfully so. Ra continues to show her […]