Poetry Lab with Cara Benson, Johnny Perez & Sean Dalpiaz

Interior view of Mount McGregor Correctional Facility in Moreau, New York, in the fall of 2015, photograph by Dorothea Trufelman ’16

Join us in the Tang’s atrium for an evening of poetry and discussion. Cara Benson, a Skidmore graduate who offered poetry classes for eight years at Mount McGregor, is joined by former students Sean Dalpiaz and Johnny Perez.

This event is free and open to the public. The Poetry Lab is cosponsored by the Skidmore College English Department.

States of Incarceration is organized for the Tang Teaching Museum by Rachel Seligman, Assistant Director for Curatorial Affairs, Tang Teaching Museum, and Eric Morser, Associate Professor of History, Skidmore College with Skidmore College students from the course “Adventures in Public History: The Prison Project.” The exhibition is supported by National Endowment for the Humanities, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and at Skidmore College by Project VIS, the John B. Moore Documentary Studies Collaborative, and the Skidmore College History Department. For a complete list of public programs, visit the States of Incarceration exhibition page.

About Cara Benson

Cara Benson earned an MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College, and teaches Creative Writing in the Graduate Program at Prescott College and is Program Manager for The Millay Colony for the Arts. She has been a Visiting Writer for The New York State Writers Institute, Rhode Island School of Design, Evergreen College, Kelly Writers House at PENN, Stonecoast MFA, and Toronto New School of Writing. Her stories, poems, essays, and book reviews have been published in The New York Times, Boston Review, Best American Poetry, The Brooklyn Rail, Electric Literature, and elsewhere. Benson is at work on her second book, an autofiction set in late capitalism.

About Sean Dalpiaz

Seán Dalpiaz is a change agent. Incarcerated for almost eight consecutive years, his passion for writing was reignited through a weekly poetry class taught by a civilian volunteer. This reignited fire produced several published pieces of poetry while Dalpiaz was incarcerated, and crossed into the free world in his work with foster care youth and other overlooked populations through direct service, advocacy, and arts rehabilitation programs. Read some of his poems here.

About Johnny Perez

Johnny Perez is the Urban Justice Center’s Mental Health Project Safe Reentry Advocate, was appointed to the New York State Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. The advisory committee investigates civil rights concerns in the state and reports to the Commission, which then issues recommendations to the U.S. Department of Justice for further action. Johnny experienced solitary confinement firsthand, spending 3 years of a 13 year sentence in solitary. In spite of his incarceration, he completed two years toward his bachelor’s degree while in prison before his release in 2013. He continued his education while working full-time since March 2041 for the Urban Justice Center Mental Health Project, assisting people with mental illness who are re-entering the community from jail or prison to obtain benefits and services for successful re-entry.

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