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Strange Fruit: Poems on the Death Penalty


This anthology was inspired by efforts to abolish Washington State's death penalty by using the power of poetry. The poems were chosen for their intention to evoke empathy, to open minds and hearts to the fate of individuals on death row and the individuals directly affected by their crimes. Poets from around the United States address the sentiment in Bryan Stevenson’s book Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption: "The death penalty is not about whether people deserve to die for the crimes they commit. The real question of capital punishment in this country is, do we deserve to kill?"


Poet and author of Instrument of Gaps, writes, “…when the scales we turn to for justice are weighed down and sagging, there is no longer a possibility of balance. It becomes our responsibility to call our laws into question, to demand change. We must acknowledge the words of the dying, ‘I am human. I am a human being.’ We all are human beings, and this book cries out for this to be heard. This book asks each of us to not turn our heads.”


Mike Farrell, best known as BJ Hunnicutt of M*A*S*H and president of the board of Death Penalty Focus, an abolition organization based in California, writes, “…in Strange Fruit, the complex web of emotions capital punishment evokes is beautifully rendered. It’s an emotional journey that will remind you with each step the urgent need to abolish this horror once and for all.”