Nancy Miller Gomez entered Salinas Valley State Prison with a backpack of poems and a fear of being caught in a lockdown. What she discovered was compassion and human connection. The poems and essays in this collection, Gomez’s first, were inspired by her experience teaching writing workshops in jails and prisons. Punishment explores the stories of people serving time in the criminal justice system. It demonstrates the ways creative expression can mend emotional wounds, bridge differences, and reconnect us to our humanity. Punishment is a moving tribute to the redemptive power of poetry.


If poetry is, at its essence, a way for humans to see and touch each other, then Nancy Miller Gomez’s carefully observed, finely crafted poems are doing the work of poetry. In these times when the divide between people so often seems too great to be crossed, when hatred and prejudice are state-sponsored, when the intersection of race, justice, and imprisonment has led to the United States having the largest incarceration rate of any country in the world, these poems are an important and necessary voice. I’m grateful to Nancy Miller Gomez for Punishment.
—Ellen Bass, author of The Courage to Heal

Edition Language:English
Format Type:

About Nancy Miller Gomez

    Punishment Reviews

  • Janet

    This chapbook rocked my world. Not only is its imagery fantastic, the depth of humanity captured in these lines will keep me reading again and again. The book is about writing and teaching inside a pr...

  • Alarie

    Again Rattle has astounded me with its chapbook series selection. I know people who teach poetry writing in prisons, and I find the annual inmate reading the most moving poetry event of the year. It...

  • David Anthony Sam

    Whenever I begin to read a collection of poetry, I hope for that feeling of a wind in my chest, that the “top if my head is taken off.” This small collection by Nancy Miller Gomez did that for me....

  • Mitch Rodricks

    This collection came with my issue of Rattle and I loved it. It is a pretty quick read, but worth rereading a few times.The language and images are clear and accessible but never simplistic. It's a ve...

  • Janel Brubaker

    Absolutely phenomenal! Jarring and honest and beautiful!...

  • Drew

    A lot of people talk the talk but Nancy Miller Gomez is clearly walking the walk too -- admitting the heinousness of a career in reality TV and the redemption to be found in teaching poetry to prisone...

  • Abby N Lewis

    "These men had discovered that the pain and hurt and anger they'd carried throughout their lives could be placed onto the page and shared with others. And that sharing of stories cut through our diffe...

  • Laura (booksnob)

    This is an amazing poetry collection. Punishment is was chosen as one of the winners in the Rattle Chapbook Prize contest and it is deserving. The poems are about the authors experience teaching poetr...

  • Jimmy

    One of Rattle's 2018 chapbook contest winners about a woman teaching poetry in prison. As always, Rattle gives its subscribers so much for the cost of a subscription. ...