I am of my mother. She raised me to:
• be critically curious
• seek out play
• trust myself
• be connected to my emotions
• deeply yearn for justice
• love well
• create things
I'm Althea –
& anti-capitalist business owner
I’m excited you’re here! I want you to know that I'm a poet. I first started writing poems as a young kid trying to understand deep grief. I found that poetry allowed me to develop language, communicate with myself, play in the abstract, & explore through time. I've played with myself as poet in many ways over the years & always fantasized about a life in which I could be a poet every day. What held me back was a long held fear that poetry was so personal it was indulgent, especially in the face of urgent justice work I could be doing instead. I finally came to understand just how revolutionary poetry is, and in fact, how essential it is to resistance. This year I've taken the work of poetry seriously, integrating writing time into my calendar with intention. You can read about my quarterly retreats here. You can read my poems here.
I'm also deeply invested in prisoner liberation & reimagining what justice looks like. I've been involved in social justice work since middle school. I've specifically been doing criminal justice and prison justice work for 10 years. In 2015 my business partner and I founded Criminal Defense Support Services, LLC where I work as a mitigation investigator and run the business. I also serve as the Director of Investigation & Prisoner Support at the Youth Justice Project of Oregon Justice Resource Center (OJRC).
The simplest way to describe what I "do" is to call it prisoner liberation work. The central questions that guide my work come from transformative justice and liberation praxis – what needs to happen to get free? What harm has occurred and what needs to happen in order to prevent harm in the future? How did the harm happen in the first place? Now how do we move toward freedom?
Tangibly, the work is parole preparation, story telling, grief recovery, clemency support, appeals level work, systemic advocacy, trial preparation support, industry education, and community building. The majority of my day to day work is advocating for those who committed violent crimes as children and are serving life sentences in the adult prison system.
My work is for anyone looking to confront the harm of the criminal legal system.
I'm happy to be your accomplice.
My latest poem is Pyeonghwa Highway, North from Uijeongbu. You can read it here.
The poem that made me want to start sharing with y'all is this one, Astral Bodies.
Prison brought me back to poetry – I wrote this poem almost ten years ago when I was barely 20. I was taking a class inside a prison and this was my final assignment. Every word is still true today.
About the Fire
When I rise in the morning
I do a few punches, curls, and jacks
to ready myself before putting on my name tag
Walk into the counterproductive institution
That thinks it has the solution
But really just contributes to all this pollution.
So here’s a fuck you to the institution that thinks
it’s raising me and it’s raising you.
If only it knew what it’s raising us to do
They might start to care where
The kids do their learning
And what we’re yearning for.
They might stop and think
About the true value of ties
The warming of our skies
Who really has time to bake pies
And how many tries it takes
To be happy.
Instead of counting broken votes
They might realize the hopes
Of folks that forgot their hopes
Because they were too busy
trying to keep a hold of the rope
That barely ties things together.
Guys, forget your ties, because shit
is going to rise --
If I’m blonde, white, and straight
And I’m in a right state
Perhaps it’s time to evaluate
the fate that’s engrained
in this nation.
Because that fate is a weight
on the state of things.
Babies are crying,
mothers are buying,
fathers are lying,
as the underlying hope
in each family is dying.
But every family deserves a chance
To take a stance on its own existence.
Decide if it’ll be
All of the above.
None of the above.
Give them the right to shout up to the skies
I’ll choose my own fate
Instead day after day
There’s a way they delay the conversation.
Because the big ones got to work into the day
While the little ones stray with no way.
Learning 1 + 1 = 2
And then coming home not knowing
What to call it, but feeling really blue.
So here’s a fuck you to the institution that thinks its laid the way
But not looked close enough to see the steps have all decayed.
I work for the day that I can take off the face of articulate, graceful, and calm
And let those fuckers just feel my palm –
With words, of course
I’m peaceful by nature
But that doesn’t mean I don’t dream about the fire.
Cuz every day
I see sparks
That could turn into a blaze
If we could just release ourselves from the haze
That delays our awakening.
I Wake up each morning and take a deep breath
Admit to myself that I’m tired
And yet I force myself to stay inspired.
Because inspiration feeds the child
And that’s who we need to make
this fire will go wild.