Reginald Dwayne Betts: In-Person & Online

Mamadi Doumbouya

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SAL Presents

Reginald Dwayne Betts: In-Person & Online

Thursday, February 9, 2023 7:30 pm PST

02/09/2023 7:30 pm 02/09/2023 America/Los_Angeles Reginald Dwayne Betts: In-Person & Online https://lectures.org/event/reginald-dwayne-betts/ Town Hall Seattle—The Great Hall

At Town Hall Seattle—The Great Hall

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In Person & Online

After incarceration, how do you reenter a society that doesn’t offer open arms? Reginald Dwayne Betts is an award-winning author, poet, lawyer, and outspoken advocate for criminal justice reform, whose work interrogates and challenges our notions of justice.

Betts has adapted his celebrated poetry collection, Felon, into a one-man performance piece, which he will perform for this SAL Presents event.

Betts transformed himself from a sixteen-year old kid sentenced to nine years in prison to a critically acclaimed writer and graduate of the Yale Law School. In October 2018, The New York Times Magazine published Reginald Dwayne Betts’ long essay “Getting Out.” Several months later, the piece was awarded a National Magazine Award. The publication was another example of Betts entering into a new genre and bringing the same depth and richness of self-reflection and exploration of the central problem on this generation: incarceration and its effects on families and communities.

Betts’ latest collection of poetry, Felon, interrogates and challenges our notions of justice. The celebrated collection tells the story of a man confronting post-incarceration life, and it has been adapted into a one-man performance piece called Felon: An America Washi Tale. Says Betts, “Here, I weave traditional theater, poetry, fine art, and Japanese paper making aesthetic principles into a meditation on my own experiences of incarceration.”

When he was awarded the PEN New England Award for poetry for his collection, Bastards of the Reagan Era, judge Mark Doty said: “Betts has written an indelible lament for a generation, a necessary book for this American moment.” His memoir, A Question of Freedom: A Memoir of Learning, Survival, and Coming of Age in Prison, is the story of a young man confined in the worst prisons in the state of Virginia, where solitary confinement, horrific conditions, and the constant violence threatened to break his humanity. Instead, Betts used the time to turn himself into a poet, a scholar, and an advocate for the reform of the criminal justice system.

A recent collaboration with visual artist Titus Kaphar lead to The Redaction, an exhibition of prints at MoMA PS1. Drawing inspiration and source material from lawsuits filed by the Civil Rights Corps on behalf of people incarcerated because of an inability to pay court fines and fees, The Redaction features poetry by Betts in combination with Kaphar’s etched portraits of incarcerated individuals. Together, Betts’ poems and Kaphar’s printed portraits blend the voices of poet and artist with those of the plaintiffs and prosecutors, reclaiming these lost narratives and drawing attention to some of the many individuals whose lives have been impacted by mass incarceration.

Between his work in public defense, his years of advocacy, and Betts’ own experiences as a teenager in maximum security prisons, he is uniquely positioned to speak to the failures of the current criminal justice system and presents encouraging ideas for change. As a result of that work, President Barack Obama appointed Betts to the Coordinating Council of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and, more recently, Governor Ned Lamont of Connecticut appointed him to the Criminal Justice Commission, the state body responsible for hiring prosecutors in Connecticut.

Betts is a Ph. D. in Law candidate at Yale. As a Liman Fellow he spent a year representing clients in the New Haven Public Defender’s Office. Betts was also one of 25 selected for the 2021 MacArthur Fellowship.

Event Details

Town Hall Seattle—The Great Hall

1119 8th Ave
Seattle, WA 98101

View directions.

Know Before You Go

COVID-19 Policies

The safety of our patrons, artists, community partners, staff, and volunteers continues to be important to us. At this time, facial masks are encouraged but not required for entry, and proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 test is no longer required. However, health and safety protocols are subject to change. Before attending events, please check your pre-event email for the most up-to-date information.

Can't find your tickets?

All tickets have been emailed for this event, so be sure to check your inbox for an email from boxoffice@lectures.org. Call us at 206-621-2230 x10 if you can’t find them.

For in-person attendance: Your e-tickets come attached in a PDF with your ticket order confirmation email. Present on your mobile device or bring your printed ticket to the venue the night of the event. Check your pre-event email for details on COVID safety precautions.

For online attendance: If you purchased a digital pass for an event, SAL will send you a pre-event reminder email with instructions to log in and access the online stream two days before your event. The night of you event, return to lectures.org/event/reginald-dwayne-betts and enter the password where prompted program begins at 7:30 p.m. (PT) and will be available for viewing for a week after the event.

SAL will also send an email the day of the event, containing the same information. If you have opted out of receiving SAL emails, you will miss this important information—please email us at boxoffice@lectures.org and we will assist you.

Have a question for the speaker?

Want to ask the author something? Send your question to SAL at sal@lectures.org—it might be asked onstage!

Books

Our partner bookstore will have books available for purchase at their table in the lobby and on their website.

Patrons & Grand Patrons, Have a Drink on SAL!

Patron & Grand Patron seating includes a pre-event drink ticket! Check your pre-event email for details.

Transportation & Parking

Town Hall Seattle is centrally located at 1119 8th Ave, on the corner of 8th and Seneca. Their venue is served by frequent bus routes, is near access to light rail stations, and close to a number of parking options nearby. Please see their website for more details.

Accessibility

Open Captioning is an option for people who have hearing losses, where a captioning screen displaying the words that are spoken or sung is placed on stage. To make a request for open captioning, please contact us at boxoffice@lectures.org or 206.621.2230×10. Please note: for in-person events at Town Hall Seattle, we appreciate a two-week advance notice to allow us time to secure captioning services. 

Closed Captioning is an option for people who have hearing loss, where captioning displays the words that are spoken or sung at the bottom of the video for online events. Captioning is available for all online events; click the “CC” button to view captions during the event.

Assistive Listening Devices (ALDs) are devices that people with hearing loss use in conjunction with their hearing device (hearing aids or cochlear implants). Town Hall Seattle has a hearing loop system, so you can switch your T-coil hearing aid to telecoil to have the stage’s microphones transmitted directly to your hearing aids. To pick up a headset, check in with any Town Hall usher when you arrive.

Sign Language Interpretation is available upon request for Deaf, DeafBlind, and hard of hearing individuals. To make a request for interpretation, please contact us at boxoffice@lectures.org or 206.621.2230×10, or select “Sign Language Interpretation” from the Accessibility section during your ticket checkout process and we will contact you to confirm details. Please note: we appreciate a two-week advance notice to allow us time to secure interpretation.

Wheelchair Accessible Seating and Accessible Restrooms are available in all sections at Town Hall Seattle, which is fully accessible to ticket holders with physical mobility concerns. Town Hall Seattle recommends that visitors use the 8th Avenue Entrance for events in the Great Hall, and elevators with Braille signage go to all levels within the Hall. The venue has all-gender, ADA-accessible restrooms on the lobby and Forum level. To reserve seating for a specific mobility concern, please contact us at boxoffice@lectures.org or 206.621.2230×10, or select “Wheelchair Accessible or Alternative Seating Options” during ticket checkout, and we will contact you to confirm details. For more details on accessibility features at Town Hall, click here.

Guide and service dogs are welcome.

All-gender restrooms are available.

We are pleased to offer these accessibility services at our venues, and they are provided at no additional cost to ticket holders. Please contact us with any questions and feedback about how we can be more accessible and inclusive. Our Patron Services Manager is available at boxoffice@lectures.org, or Monday-Friday from 10:00am – 5:00pm at 206.621.2230×10.

For more accessibility information, please head to lectures.org/accessibility. If you would like to make accessibility arrangements you do not see listed here, please contact our box office or select “Other Accommodations” from the Accessibility section during your ticket checkout process, and we will contact you to confirm details.