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raúlrsalinas and the Jail Machine

My Weapon Is My Pen

Selected writings by Raúl R. Salinas

Publication Year: 2006

Raúl Salinas is regarded as one of today's most important Chicano poets and human rights activists, but his passage to this place of distinction took him through four of the most brutal prisons in the country. His singular journey from individual alienation to rage to political resistance reflected the social movements occurring inside and outside of prison, making his story both personal and universal. This groundbreaking collection of Salinas' journalism and personal correspondence from his years of incarceration and following his release provides a unique perspective into his spiritual, intellectual, and political metamorphosis. The book also offers an insider's view of the prison rebellion movement and its relation to the civil rights and anti-war movements of the 1960s and 1970s. The numerous letters between Salinas and his family, friends, and potential allies illustrate his burgeoning political awareness of the cause and conditions of his and his comrades' incarceration and their link to the larger political and historical web of social relations between dominant and subaltern groups. These collected pieces, as well as two interviews with Salinas—one conducted upon his release from prison in 1972, the second more than two decades later—reveal to readers the transformation of Salinas from a street hipster to a man seeking to be a part of something larger than himself. Louis Mendoza has painstakingly compiled a body of work that is autobiographical, politically insurgent, and representative.

Published by: University of Texas Press

Series: CMAS History, Culture, and Society Series


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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. xiii-xiv

This project was many years in the making and involved many collaborators and the help of many good people along the way. The staff at Stanford University’s Green Library who oversee Special Collections were instrumental in helping us identify, retrieve, and duplicate materials. These include Margaret J. Kimball, Polly Armstrong, and ...

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Introduction. Ra

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pp. 3-30

From 1957 to 1972 Ra

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Section I. Salinas' Journalism

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pp. 31-32

In November of 1961Salinas was arrested while attending a Ray Charles concert at Palmer Auditorium in Austin for possession of marijuana. He was subsequently sentenced to five years and transferred to Huntsville State Prison, where he stayed until May of 1965. In Huntsville he joined the choir (see related article following ...

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Articles from The Echo, Texas State Prison,Huntsville: (aka the Walls Unit)

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pp. 33-48

The Revolutionary Concepts of the avant garde have always managed to raise more than a few eyebrows in each respective phase of the arts. As jazz writer Don Hackman so aptly stated, “Revolutions in art, like revolutions in society, inevitably affect the lives of everyone.”...

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Articles from Aztl

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pp. 49-65

In the early part of 1970, the prison administrators of Leavenworth saw the need and importance of instituting Ethnic Studies in the educational department for the benefit of the diverse ethnic groups of this penitentiary. In March of 1970, Professor Francisco H. Ruiz of Penn Valley ...

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Articles from New Era, Kansas Federal Penitentiary, Leavenworth

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pp. 66-74

A prison is a prison is a prison, to paraphrase Gertrude Stein or whatever literary giant may have uttered such a phrase, in regards to the rose. Insofar as loss of freedom is concerned we must admit, that with the coming of the technological age, some changes have occurred—slow though they may have been in arriving. But not enough. We ...

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Article from Entrel

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pp. 75-86

A people's artist molding his talents through the sufferings of prison and all of its dreary landscapes. This is Rubén Estrella. Born in San Antonio, Texas, on August 5, 1944, he has seldom been outside his native city—with the exception of annual trips to the cotton fields on the migrant circuit—and to prison. ...

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Section II. Flying Kites to the World: Letters, 1968–1974

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pp. 87-268

The correspondence that follows offers unique insight into the innermost fears, hopes, passions, and intellect of a mind and spirit undergoing change over a period of years. The letters included here are only a small portion of the overall collection in the Salinas archives. Though Salinas wrote to his family in former ...

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Section III. The Marion Strike: Journals from "El Pozo"

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pp. 269-294

The documents in this section all pertain to the prisoner-guard conflict and subsequent work stoppage and strike between prisoners and officials at Marion Federal Penitentiary in the summer and fall of 1972. Ra

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Section IV. Post-Prison Interviews

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pp. 295-336

The final section of raúlrsalinas and the Jail Machine includes two post-prison interviews with Salinas conducted twenty years apart. The first interview, “Resisting Mindfuck,” from the Seattle-based anarchist newspaper the Sunfighter, demonstrates Salinas’s continued commitment to prisoners’ rights struggles. By exposing ...


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pp. 337-344

E-ISBN-13: 9780292794290
E-ISBN-10: 0292794290
Print-ISBN-13: 9780292712843
Print-ISBN-10: 0292712847

Page Count: 358
Illustrations: 21 b&w photos, 10 facsimiles
Publication Year: 2006

Series Title: CMAS History, Culture, and Society Series
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OCLC Number: 311054090
MUSE Marc Record: Download for raúlrsalinas and the Jail Machine

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Subject Headings

  • Raúlrsalinas, 1934- -- Imprisonment.
  • Prisoners as authors -- United States.
  • Prisoners' writings, American.
  • Prisoners -- Literary collections.
  • Prisons -- Literary collections.
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