Book Talk: Commissary Kitchen - My Infamous Prison Cookbook

October 19, 2016

Please join Albert “Prodigy”: Johnson and Kathy Iandoli for a discussion of their book Commissary Kitchen: My Infamous Prison Cookbook, on Tuesday, October 25, 2016, at 6:10- 7:00 PM, SLB 120. Discussion moderated by Dwayne Betts ’16. Dinner will be served.

Meals are perhaps the most important aspect of prison life. They keep inmates alive, both physically and emotionally, as mess halls and common areas provide a level of social interaction in an otherwise lonely situation. Albert “Prodigy” Johnson served three-and-a-half years in prison, and during that time his focus was on his health. An almost impossible feat behind bars, where many inmates often enter the prison system healthy but leave with diabetes and hypertension.

Commissary Kitchen provides a deeper perspective of what it’s like to consume meals in prison. While recipes are provided, Prodigy and cowriter Kathy Iandoli also tell various anecdotes about situations in prison involving food. Meal prep in prison is very limited, so while this work appeals to anyone who has served time or is curious about prison life, it also speaks to those who prepare food with limited access to various cooking luxuries. While the work is informational, above all it humanizes the prison experience in a way that has never been done before.

Albert ”Prodigy” Johnson, as one half of the hip-hop phenomenon Mobb Deep, has sold millions of albums and recorded with the elite of hip-hop, R&B, and rock. He is the founder and curator of Infamous Books, author of the memoir My Infamous Life, and coauthor, with Steven Savile, of H.N.I.C. and Ritual.

Kathy Iandoli is a critically acclaimed journalist and author. Her work has appeared in publications such as Pitchfork, VICE, Maxim, Cosmopolitan, Village Voice, Rolling Stone, Billboard, and many others. She is also a professor of music business at New Jersey City University in Jersey City, New Jersey.

Reginald Dwayne Betts ‘16 is the author of a memoir and two books of poetry. His memior, A Question of Freedom: A Memoir of Learning, Survival, and Coming of Age in Prison (Avery/Penguin, 2009), was awarded the 2010 NAACP Image Award for non-fiction. His books of poetry are Shahid Reads His Own Palm (Alice James, 2010) and Bastards of the Reagan Era (Four Way Books, 2015). Betts is a 2010 Soros Justice Fellow, 2011 Radcliffe Fellow, and 2012 Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellow. In 2012, Betts was appointed to the Coordinating Council of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention by President Obama. He is a graduate of Prince George’s Community College, the University of Maryland, the MFA Program at Warren Wilson College.

Sponsored by the Food Law Society, Lillian Goldman Library, Petey Green Program, American Constitution Society, National Lawyers Guild and the Yale Civil Rights Project.

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