I never thought I would be sending letters and cards to a blogger friend who was incarcerated.
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 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