Ian Manuel spent 18 years in solitary confinement in a Florida jail, starting from the age of 15. In order to survive, he relied upon his vivid imagination, an experience he describes as akin to diving under water to a place where his imagination dwelt. There, he would play out his dreams: becoming a superstar, a rapper, or a hero, someone powerful in a place he was powerless. While in solitary, Manuel constantly turned to poetry, learning, reciting, and rewriting Maya Angelou’s poem “Still I Rise.”
KCRW’s Jonathan Bastian talks with Manuel about his experience in solitary and the solace he gained from poetry.