The Poetry of NYC Probation Clients

September 16, 2013 | Andy Cush

Over the weekend, the Department of Probation celebrated the release of Free Verse, a poetry magazine published by probation clients and staff. Issue 1 of the magazine is available for free PDF download from the DOP here, and contains several gems, including “For Earl” by Yasmine B. Lancaster.

Duppy followed me from
Kingston to Morris Avenue.
I swung at everything moving,
finding peace in my fists.

According to a forward from the editors, many of the poems are created while clients wait at the South Bronx Neighborhood Opportunity Network, where they meet with their probation officers. “Our editorial staff is a mix of probation clients and community members, employed to serve as writing apprentices – right in the waiting room,” it reads. “Together we take loose lines from dusty pockets, stories left in the back of closets and acrobatic lyrics written on cell phones, lunch bags, pay stubs, and napkins, and we polish and tune them until they sing.”