Blackbirds in the Pomegranate Tree: Stories from Ixcotel State Prison

I lived in Mexico for 17 years when I suddenly found myself in prison arrested on invented charges. I spent 33 days in Ixcotel State Prison in Oaxaca, Mexico, in the fall of 2003. This book of stories of the women I met there, illuminate my biggest surprise and my only consolation in prison: the solidarity that formed among the women I lived, ate, swept and passed long days with while inside.

Nine lyrical tales show the depth of emotions that insist on their own space, even in these harshest of circumstances.

The largest and brawniest woman in the prison, doing time for armed robbery, kills a rat with her foot, then turns to the author for help with a very special letter. Another young woman, only nineteen years old, has already been in for three years, guilty of kidnapping her own child. And Ana, a political prisoner, teaches the author about creative ways to turn the tide, one including frog-eating snakes.

In Blackbirds in the Pomegranate Tree: Stories from Ixcotel State Prison, I weave my own tale through the stories. Accused of a crime that doesn’t exist by a powerful man in Mexico, I depend on the fierce solidarity of friends on the outside, and a brilliant lawyer who trusts in the rule of law… even in Mexico.

The women incarcerated in Ixcotel State Prison said that the blackbirds chattered in the lone pomegranate tree in the courtyard whenever a woman was about to be released.

They are chattering now.

Book is available online through Amazon.com (Paperback and sharable Kindle format)

Introduction written by Elena Poniatowska, 2013 winner of the very distinguished Premio Cervantes (often described as the Nobel Prize for Literature in the Hispanic world).

She says:

“Blackbirds in the Pomegranate Tree” is a life lesson. If they were to throw me in jail, I would carry it with me to read each night, as some read the Bible or the Gospels. In its pages I would find strength and faith in humankind, and I would know that to believe in “the others” is a path to salvation.

Photo from Vida Yovanovich, “Abismo de Ausencia” http://www.vidayovanovich.com

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3 comments on “Blackbirds in the Pomegranate Tree: Stories from Ixcotel State Prison”

  1. […] Discovering love and life in Fort Collins Blackbirds in the Pomegranate Tree: Stories from Ixcotel State Prison […]

  2. […] Starting a new month with a blank slate — who will be the first to peek in on “Blackbirds in the Pomegranate Tree: Stories from Ixcotel State Prison?” […]


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