The Luis Hernandez Prison Poet Laureateship
“My sincerest congratulations—felicidades—Eduardo. Your words remind me that the truest poetry comes from the deepest, most honest, and daring places within ourselves—from the very marrow of the soul’s bones. I don’t believe that a poem can change the world, but it most certainly can change a life—one’s own life, as well as the lives of others who encounter our poetry. And, in turn, our changed lives can indeed change the world. You and your voice clearly demonstrate and understand that—driven by the raw tenderness of hope. Thank you for the gift of your poems that free us, for we are all trapped in our own ways, and poetry like yours is a reminder that the most powerful way out is by finding a way in to ourselves—into our own inner peace and light. Gracías, hermano.”
Richard Blanco, United States Inaugural Poet (2012)
The Luis Hernandez Florida Prison Poet Laureate is an honorary position awarded once a year by Exchange for Change and O, Miami Poetry Festival. The laureateship designates one poet currently incarcerated in the state of Florida to serve a term of one calendar year, with the mission of increasing visibility of Florida’s prison population; promoting rehabilitation through the arts; and asserting the basic humanity of all living beings.
The contest is named in honor of Luis Angel Hernandez, a poet who passed away from cancer in 2018. The appointment lasts for one year. Responsibilities include writing commissioned poems for special occasions and events; promoting the work of other inmates; and acting as a representative for Florida inmates. The laureateship is not a paid position, and there is no monetary compensation. It is not an endorsement of any behavior by the person, past, present, or future.