Punishment by Nancy Miller Gomez


Nancy Miller Gomez entered Salinas Valley State Prison with a backpack of poems and a fear of being caught in a lockdown. What she discovered was compassion and human connection. The poems and essays in this collection, Gomez’s first, were inspired by her experience teaching writing workshops in jails and prisons. Punishment explores the stories of people serving time in the criminal justice system. It demonstrates the ways creative expression ...

Details Punishment

Release DateMay 1st, 2018

Reviews Punishment

  • Kent Winward
    The author runs a program for poetry in the jails and this chapbook came out of those efforts. I'm a sucker for jailhouse poetry, even though I've never spent more than a couple of hours in custody. Probably because of Raegan Butcher. Cheers Butch!
  • Janet
    This chapbook rocked my world. Not only is its imagery fantastic, the depth of humanity captured in these lines will keep me reading again and again. The book is about writing and teaching inside a prison, and it seeks to connect one group of humans to another with nothing more than shared humanity. This selection was one I started thinking I'd read the first couple of poems, and I didn't stop until I was done with the book. Captivating.
  • Alarie
    Again Rattle has astounded me with its chapbook series selection. I know people who teach poetry writing in prisons, and I find the annual inmate reading the most moving poetry event of the year. It’s easy to think “how poetry saved my life” is hyperbole until you hear the authentic voices of those who have no future. Gomez is an attorney and poetry instructor, not an inmate. I thought she would water down the book’s impact. She did not. ...
  • David Anthony Sam
    Whenever I begin to read a collection of poetry, I hope for that feeling of a wind in my chest, that the “top if my head is taken off.” This small collection by Nancy Miller Gomez did that for me.At only 9 poems and 2 short autobiographical prose pieces, “Punishment” has more power than many other, much longer collections. Gomez has translated her experiences teaching poetry in prison into vital, living verse, without in any way betraying...
  • Drew
    A lot of people talk the talk but Nancy Miller Gomez is clearly walking the walk too -- admitting the heinousness of a career in reality TV and the redemption to be found in teaching poetry to prisoners. This slim chapbook is only 28 pages, five of them blank. But there's no scarcity of content, feeling or purpose here. "Poetry was the life raft I'd climbed onto," Gomez says at one point. Anyone who writes or reads poetry knows how true her state...
  • Mitch Rodricks
    This collection came with my issue of Rattle and I loved it. It is a pretty quick read, but worth rereading a few times.The language and images are clear and accessible but never simplistic. It's a very cohesive collection that paints a beautiful (and sometimes heartbreaking) portrait of humanity and vulnerability in the last place you would expect.With humor and humility, Ms. Gomez manages to avoid telling the standard story of finding redemptio...
  • Janel Brubaker
    Absolutely phenomenal! Jarring and honest and beautiful!
  • Abby N Lewis
    "These men had discovered that the pain and hurt and anger they'd carried throughout their lives could be placed onto the page and shared with others. And that sharing of stories cut through our differences and loneliness, connecting us in a way that mattered."This chapbook is an observation on life in prison, and the power of poetry on the lives of these prisoner. Each one of these poems tugged at my heart in a different way. All of the chapbook...
  • Ellen
    Hmm..this is definitely a great collection...beautifully crafted words...but somehow it didn't speak to me like many other Rattle collections. I felt little while I read each piece, and not sure why. Maybe it seemed detached...Nancy is an observer only. She is not incarcerated, so her words felt like those of a journalist reporting what she sees. Nothing wrong with that, but I personally need to feel something deeper...from the writer, when I rea...
  • Bill DeGenaro
    Fantastic chapbook combining poetry and short essays, mostly reflections on teaching poetry in prison but with the writer's occasional references to her past life as a reality tv producer. This juxtaposition allows writer and reader alike to consider how storytelling, truth, reality, and humanity compare in the two different contexts.
  • Laura (booksnob)
    This is an amazing poetry collection. Punishment is was chosen as one of the winners in the Rattle Chapbook Prize contest and it is deserving. The poems are about the authors experience teaching poetry to inmates in prison.
  • Jimmy
    One of Rattle's 2018 chapbook contest winners about a woman teaching poetry in prison. As always, Rattle gives its subscribers so much for the cost of a subscription.