Poets & Writers

Books Offer Lifeline in Incarceration

In the first letter Danny Harriswrote to Gary Fine from solitary confinement, he made what seemed to Fine like a simple request. “‘Books are like a window to the world,’” Fine remembers Harris writing. “‘I have no window.’” He wondered if Fine could send him one.

Fine, who works at the Durland Alternatives Library on the Cornell University campus in Ithaca, New York, responded that he was sorry, but his library didn’t send books into prisons. When, to his surprise, he received a follow-up soon after thanking him for writing to Harris “like I’m a real person,” it got Fine thinking: Maybe he

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