The Body of the StateSupplementary Texts by Co-Authors

The libretto for The Body of the State was written collaboratively by me and six women who were at the time incarcerated at Indiana Women’s Prison (some of the work's co-authors have since been released or moved to other prisons.) More detail on this collaboration can be found in this interview. Throughout the course of our work together, my co-authors and I developed myriad conceptual themes, turns of phrase, free-written monologues, poems, essays, and musical ideas, all examining the story of Juana of Castile in relation to their experience of being incarcerated in the contemporary United States. Four members of the group selected a piece of their writing on the subject to be featured here. Brittney Watson’s poem “Voice of the Dead” positions our group of co-authors as a redemptive force, voicing the lost truths of Juana’s life. Jeneth Hughes’ untitled poem and Lara Campbell’s “Desolation” deal with the psychological consequences of extended incarceration from a perspective that is inseparably both theirs and Juana’s. Finally, Michelle Jones’ formidable essay, “Thoughts on Juana of Castile: a Body that Belonged to the State,” draws adept and chilling parallels between Juana’s condition and the conditions of the modern carceral state.   -Eliza Brown