Jarrod Shook on CBC: "A poem from behind bars"

On March 5, former book club member and poet Jarrod Shook recorded his poem I was in prison and you visited me at CBC's Ottawa studio for Michael Enright's "The Sunday Edition." Listen to the broadcast here and read about Jarrod's experience, in his own words, below!

On poetry
Jarrod Shook

To express one’s self through poetry is a gigantic leap of vulnerability. Our verses, although often dressed in the elegant vocabulary in which we choose to clothe our inner most thoughts and feelings, stand there naked on the page, exposed for all to see. When read aloud, our poems expose us all the more, like nude models standing in front of a figure artist, as the hidden contours and nuances of our lives become plain to those who observe our words. This vulnerability however a risk it may be, is not without its reward. After sharing my poem I Was in Prison and You Visited Me at the Book Clubs for Inmates annual fundraiser event, I was asked by Michael Enright to come to the Ottawa CBC studio and perform this poem on air for his distinguished radio broadcast “The Sunday Edition." I was honoured and received a very positive response from his listeners. One listener in particular was so touched by the poem that she decided to get in touch with the producers of the show.

When I was very young, my Mother passed away after a long fight with alcoholism. I miss her very much and have had little contact with anyone who knew her since her death. I can’t help but think she was listening after I received the following message from The Sunday Edition, received following the shows broadcast:

"I heard your episode this morning 05/03/17, The segment on the book club in prison left me with a lump in my throat, tears and chills.  If Jarrod's mother was Sheila Shook and his father George Shook I knew Jarrod as a boy.  I knew his mom very well and many times over the years I've thought about him. If you could convey a message to him (if of course it's the same Jarrod)  that his mother really, really loved him and how so proud she would be today.  Also please tell him that Sheila taught me so much about humility, being human and being grateful for what I have in my life.  Hearing "me the least" [a line from the poem] gave me such renewed hope at such a dismal time in the world. I've shared this segment with other women who knew Sheila and Jarrod."

To express one’s self through poetry is a gigantic leap of vulnerability. It is a risk, yes, but you never know what is waiting on the other side. Take the leap.