A poets time in prison: Ravi Shankar's "Correctional"
Ravi Shankar is an award-winning author and editor of more than fifteen books and chapbooks of poetry. He is the founder of Drunken Boat, one of the world’s oldest electronic journals of the arts, and has been featured in the New York Times and on BBC, NPR, and PBS NewsHour.
The first time Ravi Shankar was arrested, he spoke out against racist policing on National Public Radio and successfully sued the city of New York. The second time, he was incarcerated when his promotion to full professor was finalized. During his ninety-day pretrial confinement at the Hartford Correctional Center—a level 4, high-security urban jail in Connecticut—he met men who shared harrowing and heart-felt stories.
The experience taught him about the persistence of structural racism, the limitations of mass media, and the pervasive traumas of twenty-first-century daily life. Shankar’s bold and complex self-portrait—and portrait of America—challenges us to rethink our complicity in the criminal justice system and mental health policies that perpetuate inequity and harm. "Correctional" dives into the inner workings of his mind and heart, framing his unexpected encounters with law and order through the lenses of race, class, privilege, and his bicultural upbringing as the first and only son of South Indian immigrants.