Exchange, Issue 3

Letter from the Editor

WELCOME to the third issue of Exchange, a literary magazine of poems, essays, stories, and artwork exclusively by individuals who have faced imprisonment.

The Incarcerated Writers Initiative was started in 2016 as a way to share the knowledge and experience accrued by students of the Columbia MFA program with an overlooked, underserved, and silenced population. We consider it our responsibility and our pleasure to attempt to open the gates of academia and publishing to communities who do not otherwise have the means to access them.

Far from an act of charity, IWI is a pedagogical project in two directions. As student readers we are challenged, moved, and inspired by the work we receive. Our correspondents reach out to us each year because we read their work earnestly and with the respect it merits. This magazine is titled Exchange because of our dedication to this free transmission of perspectives and ideas.

In this issue you will find writing that touches on the schism between incarcerated parents and their children, who grow up in the untouchable outside world. You will see a poem from the perspective of a victim of the Holocaust, a trauma that holds a person in a time and place forever. We have pieces on the cyclical nature of oppression and violence; on isolation, God, abandonment. Some of these works take pains to make themselves clear, others relish in the incomprehensible and the inexplicable.

Writers on the inside, because of and in spite of their carceral status, have a prismatic infinity of creative expression, seeking a platform. We are connected to those who write not just to express, but to survive. This magazine is an open line of communication, and we invite you to pick up the other end.

Heather Gluck
Editor-in-Chief, Exchange

artwork by Kellen Stuhlmiller, Corey Devon Arthur, Abigail Cook, and Rusty Weddle


All I Talk About is Incarceration

by Abigail Cook

Ares & Hermes

by Rusty Weddle

On Drowning

by Peter Dunne


by Peter Dunne

Some Mother’s Darling (excerpted)

by Benjamin Frandsen

La Familia

by Ramelle Kamack


by Craig Elias


by Gustavo Guerra

The Song of the Conch Shell

by Darcie L. Riggle

My First Bike Ride

by Taj Alexander Mahon-Haft

Lynn and Ann

by Abigail Cook

Unstructured: A Story of Injustice in North Carolina Prisons

by Phillip Vance Smith, II

The Virus

by Juan Francisco Mejia


by Elizabeth Hawes

Wordlove’s Elegy

by Prisoner Poet #Bj0177

Breath of Fresh Air

by David Steece


by John Cochran

Three Works

by Kellen Stuhlmiller

The Art of Mistake

by Demetrius Buckley

Bridge Card Holder

by Demetrius Buckley

She’s A Shooter

by Corey Devon Arthur

All Things Relative, III

by Taj Alexander Mahon-Haft

Managing Staff

Heather Gluck

Art Director
Colleen Reynolds

Outreach Manager
Preston DeGarmo

Social Media Manager
Zoe Hardwick

Nonfiction Editor
Leah Silverman

Fiction Editor
Selina Mao

Editorial Board

Braudie Blais-Billie, Camille Sensiba, Cate Valinote, Chyana Marie Sage Deschamps, Ciera Robinson, Destiny Hall, Emily Johnson, Gabrielle McAree, Garen Torikian, Genevieve Morel Shuster, Kai-Lilly Kane Karpman, Kaylee Jeong, Kellie Diodato, Leah Silverman, Mishal Kazmi, Ronald Lee Robertson, Jr., Selina Mao, Jessie Shohfi, Anna Schwartzman, Mia Xing, Claire Kuo, Clare Elizabeth Donaldson, Jude Misick, Nafisa A. Iqbal, and Eleanor Evelyn Hopson Tennyson.


IWI works within the Columbia Artist/Teachers (CA/T) program at Columbia University School of the Arts’ Writing Program. We gratefully acknowledge support and guidance from CA/T Director Stephanie Wobby and CA/T Faculty Advisor Alan Ziegler. Our gratitude to the Prison Creative Arts Project at the University of Michigan.

We’d also like to thank Writing Program Chair Lis Harris, Director of Academic Administration Frank Winslow, Program Assistant John McShane. Thank you to Columbia’s School of the Arts: Carol Becker, Dean of Faculty; Jana Hart Wright, Dean of Academic Administration and Planning; and Laila Maher, Dean of Student and Alumni Affairs.

This publication would not have been possible without the generosity of the Mark R. Robin Memorial Fund for Creative Writing.