Words Is a Powerful Thing brings into the light the works of fifty talented inmate writers whose work deserves attention. Their poetry speaks of “what really matters” to all of us and gives the reader sustained insight into the role that creativity plays in aiding survival and bringing positive change for inmates, and, in turn, for all of us. Daldorph’s account of his teaching experience not only takes the reader inside the daily life at a county jail but also sets the work done in the writing class within the larger context of inmate education is the US corrections system, where education is often one of the few lifelines available to inmates. Words Is a Powerful Thing provides a teaching guide for instructors working with incarcerated writers, offering an extensive examination of both the challenges and benefits.
When Brian Daldorph decided the story of his classroom experiences and the great writing produced by the inmates deserved to be told to wider audiences, he struggled with how to bring it all together. Not long after, an inmate wrote a poem titled “Words Is a Powerful Thing,” offering Daldorph a title, concept, and purpose: to show that the poetry of inmates speaks not just to other inmates but to all of us.