Discovery: Poetry and Art by Rick and Jan Sikes
This insightful book of poetry and art was compiled by Jan Sikes, the widow of the late Rick Sikes, who spent over ten years as an inmate at the Leavenworth, Kansas U.S. penitentiary. With introductions from Connie Nelson and Jan Sikes, the two introduce the reader to the life and spirit of Rick Sikes. We then move into the book and read a letter from the artist and poet himself, followed by a touching black and white photograph of Rick, before the book delves deeply into this poetic and creative world. The gorgeous colored illustrations use a type of pointillism to pull the viewer deeply within each piece. They range in subject matter from the U.S. Capitol Building, an inmate behind bars, a portrait of Willie Nelson, and pleasant country scene. While the artwork and poetry within mostly focus on life as an inmate, Rick Sikes discusses love, hope, and how the struggles of life can shape a man. The book ends with a selection of poetry from Jan Sikes, which gives the reader a full picture of this couple, as they are able to read the aching words from both sides.
It is clear from the first few pages of this book that it was put together with love, and a strong sense that getting Rick’s words and art out to the world would have the potential to benefit others. The poetic pieces are interspersed with the artwork, and each poem really rings deeply within the reader, as they contemplate what it would be like to be in prison, or separated from those you love by no choice of your own. The poems show deep contemplation and personal growth as one is forced to adapt to the situation they have found themselves within. This book would especially be of interest to any couple who has had to deal with a prison sentence affecting their love.
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