By John Banner
During the many years I spent on mother earth, I’ve been called a multitude of things. While much of the uttering was not exactly flattering, some of it did wear the mantle of borderline respectability. Alcatraz poet readily comes to mind.
While his identity is definitive, it does not do justice to the term, Word Gatherer, which I believe better describes that which I enjoy doing. I like to think of myself as a collector and then, if you will, a merchant dealing in thoughtful passages to buyers who pay with interest in my wares.
The word poet exudes a connotation of stiffness with the offer of a metered, starched and recorded cadence marching in a rhythmic step to the romantic days of histories past. A nomenclature, I should think, belonging solely to the distinguished likes of Shakespeare, Longfellow, Browning, Dickinson, Wilde, Poe, et al. Certainly not an accolade to be bestowed upon a Word Gatherer of Apprentice standing. Because my stringing together of worded thoughts described at times as strangely weird, still simplistic and earthly, yet thoughts that form a story, are better read if the reader remembers that they are the product of writing during the cruelest of times, time spent in the icon of prisons (often called America’s Devils Island) by this one-time Alcatraz convict.
I believe that somewhere along the path of my descriptive gathering my work will be read, if for no other reason, than one of curiosity toward the writing of a one-time maximum security prisoner, writing that has mentally lain open a cell door into the past, a door far more accessible to exit than the door which harbored me.
Please enjoy the work I choose to call “A Journey Inside the Convict Mind.”
About the Author
John Banner spent four years in Alcatraz during the 1950’s. Banner discovered his gift for writing poetry and verse while in prison, and wrote much of this material in his cell in the 1950’s. It provides a rare glimpse into what Alcatraz was really like – the psychological aspects of the experience. Banner combines the introspection of a poet with the knowledge of a historian to create this unique CD, backed by a sensitive musical score and sound effects – this CD will take you into the dark depths of America’s most legendary prison like nothing else. Banner was a featured character in the documentary Alcatraz Reunion.