My Time's going to come

with our guest: Ian Manuel

OVERVIEW

Ian Manuel is a truly inspiring soul. He’s a spoken word poet who’s messages is the impossible is obtainable. When I first met Ian, he was on stage delivering some of his spoken word poetry, and when I talked to him afterward, he shared with me something that I could see in his delivery. He said, “God has given me the gift to compose words in ways that move people.” He had plenty of time to practice cultivating that gift while he spent a 26 year prison sentence, 18 consecutive years in solitary confinement, for a crime he committed at 13 years old. He received life in prison without the possibility of parole. In this interview, we talk about the crime that landed him there, how he confronted his victim, and why, what she said and did and continues to do. Very, very remarkable. And the final thing here, and we talk about this briefly toward the end, but it’s a theme I think that runs throughout, is this idea that our traditional justice system is oriented toward punishment where a restorative justice system is or would be oriented toward healing. And that was a concept I had no notion of more than two years ago. It’s one that I have really enjoyed learning more about. It was kind of invisible to me. I hope that if you’re not already familiar with the concept of restorative justice, that this interview opens your eyes and your mind to the possibility of something that would serve us as a society in a far greater way than what we’re currently doing.

SHOW NOTES

00:02:27 – What’s life about?
00:07:12  – Life sentence at 13 years old.
00:19:41 – Solitary confinement.
00:25:14 – Preserving strength while in prison.
00:40:00 – Forgiveness.
00:43:35 – Writing his book.
00:50:04 – Reentry process.
00:54:15 – Lightning round.
01:00:12  – Creative process.
01:08:03 – Poem: Every Time I Breathe

Bryan:              00:02:27 Ian, please tell me what’s life about?

 

Ian:                00:02:31 Uh, to me, life is about, uh, paying your karmic debts. You, we’re here to learn. We’re here to teach. We’re here to grow. Um, and some of us are born with, you know, with greater purposes. I believe that others, some of us I learned from the book, uh, The Seed of the Soul by Gary Zukav, that some are, some souls take on more responsibilities than others, uh, before they, uh, it’s like you, they entered into a sacred agreement with the universe before they were even born. And, um, I look at, you know, my life and I like to think that the way I’m, the way I’m driven and the things that I’ve been through that maybe I, my soul took on a lot more responsibility before I was born.

 

Bryan:              00:03:17 Yeah. I suspect knowing a little bit about your life story, that is very well true. Um, when people ask you who you are and what you do, how do you typically answer that? Uh, I typically answer that and in a couple ways, I, I say that each of us were born with the gift and that my gift is to compose words in ways that move people. Uh, yeah, that’s the gist of my answer. Another way I answer it is just saying that, uh, you know, I use my imagination, uh, to wheel things into existence.

 

Ian:                00:03:54 Give me an example of that.

 

Ian:                00:03:56 Uh, great, great question. Uh, I will be jumping ahead into the story. Well, I’ll just, I’ll say this. Uh, I was in solitary confinement and I was listening to Michael Jordan who I was a fan of. Uh, Michael Jordan was one of the two people always wanted to be like, as a little kid.

 

Bryan:              00:04:16 Who was the other?

 

Ian:                00:04:17 Michael Jackson.

 

Bryan:              00:04:18 Michael Jackson and Michael Jordan. Okay.

 

Ian:                00:04:20 Yeah, there was no in between for me. And, uh, I just remember him hitting that last shot. Uh, I was listening to it on a small transistor radio that I had in solitary confinement that I shouldn’t have had.

 

Bryan:              00:04:33 My understanding is those aren’t allowed in solitary.

 

Ian:                00:04:35 Uh Huh. No, they’re not.

 

Bryan:              00:04:36 How did you get the transistor radio?

 

Ian:                00:04:38 Uh, if I remember correctly, uh, you know, transistor radios. Uh, the one I had cost like 40 to 60 stamps and inmates from the population who served the food would come back there with contraband radios or to sell to certain inmates who had that amount of stamps to, to pay for it. And um, I was just listening to that game and I just, I was so happy because if you remember that year, it was one of the only times that the Bulls were not the favorite to win it all. Uh, Utah had just swept the Lakers in four games, um, that year. And um, the Chicago Bulls were coming off a seven game tuff series against the Indiana Pacers. And everyone had picked, particularly Sports Illustrated, had picked, uh, the Utah Jazz to beat Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls and become NBA champions, particularly being the year before that Michael Jordan and the Bulls had beaten them. Utah was better that year.

 

Bryan:              00:05:44 Yeah. Uh, it’s Kinda painful memories.

 

Ian:                00:05:47 Yeah. With the, I know you the son of, uh, of, of, of the great Larry Miller. But just to answer your question, how will things into existence? You know, Michael Jordan hit that shot and I felt the pleasure of it, but I also felt that agony that I was in solitary confinement celebrating this Bulls win. And yet I was like, someday I’m going to be a free man. Someday this isn’t going to be my life forever. And here I am today on a podcast with Larry Miller son and I’m going to stand in that same spot where Michael Jordan hit that shot. That shows you can will things into existence.

 

Bryan:              00:06:29 Yeah. That’s amazing. So this experience of being in solitary confinement, I want to talk about that. Tell me, how did you end up there?

 

Ian:                00:06:39 Great question. So the way of the Department of correction is set up you can be placed in solitary confinement for, uh, anything from walking on the grass to uh, talking back to the officers, to having, uh, someone lie and plant a knife in your locker or anything. Well with me, I was out. I like to say that I was given all the responsibilities of an adult at 13 and 14 because I was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole as a 13 year old child.

 

Bryan:              00:07:12 Okay, wait, so sentenced to life as a 13 year old without the possibility of parole. Yes. How does that happen?

 

Ian:                00:07:20 Uh, it happens when you have a state that’s more in tune with punishing children than rehabilitating them. It happens when you have a legislation in place that says a child of any age indicted for a life or death felony shall be treated in every respect as if he were an adult. Um, it happens when you have people and on the bench who are, who don’t have compassion and want to treat you like a grown man. But what I found when I was in prison, I was a child. I was a, I was a child in one instance, but a man and another, and a perfect example of that is when I went to the, when I went to the canteen to buy a pack of cigarettes, not that I smoke. I’ve never smoked cigarettes. Uh, I don’t do drugs. I don’t drink alcohol, but cigarettes is a different type of currency inside the prison. And so I needed cigarettes to have my laundry folded a certain way to have my, uh, uh, uh, my, uh, laundry, my blues pressed in case I got a visit or just just have different privileges. Well, when I went to the canteen window to purchase a pack of cigarettes, the canteen operator would tell me, oh, the computer says, don’t try it like that. I’m like, what? You mean? The computer says, don’t try like that. Son you gotta be 21 or 18 years old to buy a pack of cigarettes. So you’re telling me I was old enough to be sent to this adult prison, but I’m not old enough to buy a pack of cigarettes at this adult prison.

 

Bryan:              00:08:55 That’s crazy.

 

Ian:                00:08:55 Yeah, I totally understand.

 

Bryan:              00:08:58 And in this case, we’re talking about the state of Florida. Yes. But if we’re honest, there’s a lot of states that are oriented that way currently.

 

Ian:                00:09:05 Right, It’s just a lot of states orientated this way currently. A lot of, a lot of the state’s laws hasn’t changed, but just to speak on how I specifically got got placed in solitary confinement. I was doing the normal everyday things that kids would do if they were home and would’ve been placed in grounded for like go to your room. Yeah. Instead being a 14 year old child, I was sent to my cell for it started out with 30 day confinement and here 15 days here, 60 days confinement there. And what happens is if you go to confinement enough for walking on the grass, talking back to the officer or just being at unauthorized area, being in another dorm, kids are always places they’re not supposed to be. If you get enough of those, they call, they consider you a management problem and they place you in long term solitary confinement. And I was placed in a long term solitary confinement at the age of 15 years old. And uh, if you want me to speak on how, you know, the, the way that is set up, I, I can.

 

Bryan:              00:10:11 Yeah. I mean, first of all, as I hear you share your story, um, I’m really just stunned, you know, and I’m sure people listening are like, okay, wait, who is this guy? How did he end up in prison? What was solitary confinement like? You know, I’m sure there’s a lot of questions, but let’s go back for a moment at the beginning of how did you as a 13 year old get this life sentence? Like what happened for you to end up in that way?

 

Ian:                00:10:36 Great question. Great question and I appreciate it. So I was born in a place called Central Park Village in Tampa, Florida. Uh, Central Park Village is a lot different than the Central Park that you and many of your audience members might, might, might be familiar with. There was no rose trees or squirrels. If there was any squirrels, uh, they probably had to dodge bullets. Um, but, um, Central Park was where I grew up and it was a very violent, dangerous neighborhood and it’s what I grew up around. And you know, sometimes you become what you, what you are surrounded with. Now, in my case, I had a loving grandmother by the name of Linda Johnson who gave me anything I wanted. You know, she, she was so caring and considerate because she didn’t raise her own child. Um, and she wanted to kind of give me the love that she didn’t give her a child. My mom, um, my mom, Peggy, she, uh, went to prison for shooting a woman. Herself went right soon as I was born. So yeah, I was separated from my mama basically at birth and she went to prison with a three year. This is important with a three year prison sentence.

 

Bryan:              00:11:49 So she gets a three year prison sentence for shooting someone, a woman.

 

Ian:                00:11:52 A woman. Uh Huh. For the 32 caliber pistol. And my, I’m basically raised those three years by my grandmother. And while I’m being raised by my grandmother, I ended up, uh, my mother gets out of prison and comes back and she, moves to Central Park too. So now I’m passed back and forth between my mom and my grandmother, my mom, my grandmother, and I started going to Catholic school. I started going to Catholic school in first grade. It’s a private school, second grade in third grade, but something happened and Catholic school or that I’ll never forget. I actually took things I want to share that happened in Catholic school that kind of let me know what I now look back on what I felt like I was born to do. Um, one thing that happened was we were asked to draw, we was asked to draw something and I, uh, I just distinctively remember the art teacher asking us to draw something. And I ended up drawing, uh, it was a squirrel on the wall and she told us the draw what we saw and I drew this squirrel and she was going around the different kids table, stopping at that desk saying, oh, what a great, you did a good job. Look at the eyes. Oh, Candace, look at the way you got the tail. You captured it pretty well. But she stopped at my desk and she looked at the squirrel at the top of the, uh, on the ceiling on the wall and then look back down at my paper. And it was exactly identical to what was on that wall. She couldn’t believe our eyes. And I just remember her exclamation of how she picked up the piece of paper and showed it to the entire classroom. My God class. Look what Ian did. You know, and it, I was filled with a feeling of fulfillment. Like this is what makes me feel good. I want more of this.

 

Bryan:              00:13:49 Yeah. How old were you at that time?

 

Ian:                00:13:51 I was in the second grade, so I was like six or seven. Okay. And the other thing I remember from second grade quickly is that, um, they were passing out awards and um, I was in the pews with my, it was the end of the school year and I was in the pews with my mom and her mom, my mom’s friends, and I’ve just antsy, I’m always been very hyper and very impatient, always getting up. You could tell from your class yesterday. And, and, and they finally called my name and Ms. Fort, my second grade teacher said, and for reading and writing, Ian Manual. And I went up to the front, front of the auditorium, I got my awards and I came back and I sat down on a bench. And my mom’s friend, as Linda writes, said, Ian, let me see those certificates. And I turned around and I passed them to her and she said, reading and writing, that’s all you need in this world. And you could be anything you want. Wow. I never forgot that. And I told Random House that story. And before I got signed. And it’s one of the things I believe led to me being signed by the biggest publishing company in America.

 

Bryan:              00:15:01 That’s beautiful. That’s really beautiful. Why did your mom shoot that woman?

 

Ian:                00:15:06 Um, I was a little boy at the time, so I can’t answer it. What I was told. Oh, because that’s a great question. What I was told was that, uh, the lady next door had told my, uh, mom and son, her son and my older brother, Sean, to stay out of her yard. She, Paulette wanted my brother to stop running in her yard. There was no picket fence to separate the yard. This is the housing projects. Uh, and at the time they, we were staying in a housing project called Robles Park. Um, anyway, Sean deliberately, I was told, went into the lady’s yard again and Paulette hit Sean and my mom, who I guess only dealt with things through anger, shot Paulette for hitting her son.

 

Bryan:              00:15:56 Wow. Well, at the risk of being flippant, it sounds like that might run in the family. So not the anger thing. Obviously you, I mean, anybody who spent time around you, I think feels you’re peaceful. I think a very peaceful spirit, but a very strong spirit. Yes. But this tendency perhaps to do things impulsively, at least at some time in your life.

 

Ian:                00:16:19 Yes. I mean, even just flying out here, uh, at a, at a flop, flip of a dime, uh, uh, I like to say, um, don’t let fear freeze you. You know, courage is acting in the face of fear. And so, uh, I, I’m not as impulsive as I used to be. I used to be impulsive about nearly everything because I wanted that high, that high of just doing something and not being bored. But I will say that my impulsivity did probably lead to, uh, you know, my crime that night. Impulsivity combined with the peer pressure of, for older teenagers, you know, con, you know, convincing me to have the gun to go downtown, looking for someone to rob and someone you know, to shoot, uh, would not shoot someone to take money from. And a July 27th, 1990 was when my crime happened. I was 13 years old.

 

Bryan:              00:17:17 So walk us through.

 

Ian:                00:17:19 Uh, it’s difficult to reminisce about, but uh.

 

Bryan:              00:17:22 What makes it difficult?

 

Ian:                00:17:24 Well, the, I went through a lot of therapy about it. Uh, went through a lot of therapy. I went through a lot of healing with me and the victim and just knowing that that’s not who I, who I was raised to be as a person. So although I was raised in that environment, neither my mom nor my grandmother raised me to be that way. You know, they instilled in me of values of even, like for instance, my mom, even though she had a very strange way of loving me, she said one thing to me over and over again that I held on to that kept my sanity in some of the toughest conditions. She used to grab me periodically throughout the years in the weeks since she say, Ian, baby, you’re brilliant no matter what don’t never let them take your mind. And for her to tell me that, I mean, you know, I used to hold on to that in the deepest recesses of solitary confinement when I was stuck in an abyss, when everyone had died and I had no support and I was being starved. And starved not only physically by the correction officers who refused to feed me, but starved of love by humanity. You know, when you don’t have a family, uh, no one’s coming to see you. You know, I lost my entire family during my incarceration. And so you, you need something to hold on to. Uh, and I held on to that statement that had I lost my sanity, had I went crazy, then I would, I would lose, I would let mom down. I would let myself down because I would have nothing else to defend myself against. The evil of that was surrounded me by the correctional officers.

 

Bryan:              00:19:15 So your brother, Sean, that you just told us a story about, he passed away while you were incarcerated.

 

Ian:                00:19:20 Yes, sir.

 

Bryan:              00:19:20 Which you haven’t yet mentioned this, but at total serve total time served of 26 years.

 

Ian:                00:19:26 Yes.

 

Bryan:              00:19:26 Right. Total time in solitary of 18 years.

 

Ian:                00:19:30 Yes. 18 consecutive years.

 

Bryan:              00:19:31 That’s crazy. And this thing about the correctional officers who would starve you, for how long? What reason?

 

Ian:                00:19:41 Well, people, we, I don’t, I’m not going to say all of us, but humans have this tendency to want to break something, uh, or just mold it in the fashion that we want it molded in. We do it in our relationships with our wives. We do, we do it without children. Like we want them to be how we want them to be. And we don’t make any room or allowances for them being who they are, their own personality. I have a strong personality, so I’m going to stand out what, no matter what room I walk in. So here you got these correctional officers trying to make me be who they want me to be. Like, man, you’re, you know how many times they got, I got told Ian, you just, that inmate. Ian, you’re not special. Ian you, you’re just, we’re gonna get you’re going to be treated just like everyone else. And when I resisted that, I would be gassed with high power military style mace. I would be starved. I would be injected psychotropic meds that I didn’t need. Haldol, Zyprexa, Prolixin, these are things you give to people who are in, who are, have very serious mental disorders. Not someone like me who’s just just resisting being broken.

 

Bryan:              00:21:04 Give me an example of how you would resist.

 

Ian:                00:21:06 Oh, let me see. Let me see. Let me give you an example of how I would resist. Ian we want to cut your hair. Uh, and you’re not supposed to have a, uh, I dunno where you got that fade from, but you’re not supposed to have a fade. I’m like, well, I transfer to this institution with this fade. Well, we want to cut it and make it, and you’re not supposed to have a fade. You’re not supposed to have a ball here. We want you to looking just like everyone else. Uh, I don’t want to look like, just like everyone else. God made me an individual, you know, so then they would want to hold you down and cut your hair and make you look just like everyone else. I think that’s a, a prime, a prime example. Or I would resist to, I’m a prolific writer and they would hate someone who was successful at writing grievances and they would literally tell me, Ian, stop writing grievances. Okay, if you won’t stop writing groups for yourself, stop helping these other inmates write their grievances. We’re not, if we’re not messing with you, stay out our business. Stay out. They would literally tell me to stay out their business. And, and it just got to the point where they kind of like, they put me in a, a form of solitary where it was only like seven of us on a wing where, uh, I couldn’t help that many people. We were separated from the rest of the people of, of the population.

 

Bryan:              00:22:28 So you’d write grievances, meaning there’s some formal process by which prisoners can get a message out to a larger world that by all, by all rights, the, the correctional officers should adhere to and honor. Right. But they don’t like, right. That’d be an out, right. So what’s, okay, God, there’s so much, so much, so much I want to know. Um, what was the biggest thing you learned?

 

Ian:                00:22:54 Oh Man. I think the biggest thing I learned and in prison for me that, that I, it goes back to something that Albert Einstein taught that imagination is more important than knowledge. You’ve got these people out here and society who go to pay all of this good money that go to these colleges and different universities. I went to a 26 year university and doing that during that time, I spent 18 consecutive years in solitary and I used my imagination so much and stretched it and fit it into all different types of ways. To the point where, let me tell you a quick story. What I mean about our imagination. I went, I walked up to this window and my cell one day and I saw a wasp, in the window. And then it was a great over my window blocking me from being able to just fight to get this dead was out of this window. So I wrote up a piece of toilet paper. I found a, uh, a piece of broom to try to get them, but I couldn’t get the, the wasp out of this window.

 

Bryan:              00:24:04 And it’s a dead wasp.

 

Ian:                00:24:05 It’s a dead wasp, it’s a dead wasp. But I’m, I’m driven.

 

Bryan:              00:24:08 Isn’t there a toilet? You just put it down the toilet.

 

Ian:                00:24:10 Right. But I can’t touch it. I, there’s an old.

 

Bryan:              00:24:14 Because the grate is between you and the wasp.

 

Ian:                00:24:16 It’s between me and the wasp. Yeah. Um, and that’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to give it a proper burial, um, because I didn’t think anything just deserved to be left in solitary confinement, not even a dead wasp. And so what I did after becoming frustrated, i did what I always do to free myself or free something, I sat down and wrote a poem called The Wasp In the Window. And I was able to use that poem to free that wasp because that same poem, uh, was, uh, the School of Visual Arts in New York City spent a semester studying my poetry while I was in solitary confinement. So I was able to free that wasp because now people, uh, who had never seen that wasp before know about it, you know. So that’s a way that I, I just feel like one thing I learned is that imagination is more important than knowledge. Forget what you learn, but don’t forget what you feel, what you dream of.

 

Bryan:              00:25:14 How did you, how did you preserve the strength of your spirit? How did you let them not break your spirit?

 

Ian:                00:25:23 That’s a, that’s a great question, man. I, uh, I just didn’t want to, I turned to stories in the Bible for inspiration. Stories like Samson. Uh, I, you know how, you know, he lost his eyes, but he just, he just held on the longer you held on and his hair grew back and they forgot about that part. Um, and even with, if you, if you think I had one, I had one human being that I could look to that had been through what I had been through, that I could turn to and say, okay, this is my pinnacle. I know I can go at least 27 years and 18 years in solitary because I know another human being that did it. Now if I get, I don’t know if I can go past that, but I can get at least to that. And that human being was Nelson Mandela. He served 26 years in prison at 18 years in solitary confinement. I served 26 years in prison and 18 years in solitary confinement. I was right there on the cusp of what he was on.

 

Bryan:              00:26:33 Yeah, that’s not a record I want to break. Okay. So let’s go back. I’ve got three things I want to see at least three things I want to cover. One I want to learn about, was it a night? I want to learn about that night. Yeah. I wanna learn about that. I want to hear about and I can come back to these, but you let you go where you want to go right now. So that night your book, who you wrote it for and what you want it to do or how you want the world to be different. There was one more, but those are, those are the, those are the two would. Which one of those would you like to explore?

 

Ian:                00:27:09 I like to go with the most difficult one and the one, the most difficult one for me is that night. Oh, you know, you know, I would just say this, I was, I was sitting on the porch with my girl, girl on going off again. Whatever you puppy love girlfriend. And I was trying to get her to go upstairs with me.

 

Bryan:              00:27:30 This boy back in 20 was this 1990?

 

Ian:                00:27:33 Yes this was 1990. I was 13, she was like 12, 13 or whatever, and she just wouldn’t go upstairs with me for whatever reason. You’ll find out more in the book. I don’t want to give too much away right there. Um, but I will say that, uh, I got approached by some older boys to go downtown and do a robbery and my frustration.

 

Bryan:              00:27:56 Some kids go skateboarding.

 

Ian:                00:27:58 Some kids go skateboarding. And I will say that I did have the opportunity to go to the game room, uh, while I was sitting on that porch, but I turned it got down earlier.

 

Bryan:              00:28:08 To go play like video games or something. Right. So you could have done that.

 

Ian:                00:28:11 I could have done that at first, but I was, I told, I turned the guy down. I said, I’m just just chilling with my girl tonight, man. Um, but I just got so frustrated, uh, at the stand on his porch for an hour and seeing she wasn’t changing her mind that when the bad guys came along and offered me to go downtown, I was like, you know what? Sure, nothing’s going on here. I, I, that’s a decision that I regret. I mean, I sat on my porch, I mean, I sat in my, in my cell many, many years thinking, what if I’d just stayed on that porch? What if I would’ve just stayed on that porch with Peaches instead of going downtown? And my life would have looked so much different. But I always felt like there was a purpose. That was a reason, uh, that I left that porch. I mean, I was the only one arrested for this crime. It was four of us. But anyway, we go downtown, they keep trying to come. They keep trying to convince me to rob this person, robbed that person. And I’m like, no, no, I don’t feel comfortable. And, um.

 

Bryan:              00:29:18 Why didn’t they do it?

 

Ian:                00:29:20 I’m the youngest. I’m the youngest and then supposedly the most courageous. Uh, yeah. You know, uh, I, that’s something I’ve always been known for my heart. Uh, whether it’s the courage to jump on a plane and fly to a complete strangers house. Or the, the, the, the heart to just be compassionate and give, uh, the heart to, uh, meet this white kid in the county jail who, whose family’s middle class and everybody wants to try to extort and pick on and I just take him under my wing. Like I got you guy named William Barfield, just things like that. I just always had a good heart. Uh, but anyway, we go downtown and we, we know jumping ahead in the story, just when I get pressured to the next person and we’ve been down here at this for like a few hours and we haven’t robbed anybody cause I’m the one with the gun and I keep telling them no, no, no it doesn’t. This is too wide open. This is, it’s too many people. Too many witnesses.

 

Bryan:              00:30:23 Where’d you get the gun?

 

Ian:                00:30:24 Uh, the oldest guy had the gun. The guy who was 18, the guy was the oldest guy who had the gun. He gave it to my friend. I didn’t even know the oldest guy. The oldest guy was 18. The second oldest was 16, the fourth, third oldest was 14 and the youngest was Ian.

 

Bryan:              00:30:40 What was it? It was a 38.

 

Ian:                00:30:43 This was a 32 the same kind of gun my mom had.

 

Bryan:              00:30:46 Oh Man. History repeats itself.

 

Ian:                00:30:48 History repeats itself in that case. Uh, I go downtown, I end up, the oldest guy asking, ended up asking the lady for, uh, and the man, he, she was with her, she was with the guys. We’ll ask them for change for I think a $20 bill. And I thought, I heard them said that they had change. And I, you know, I pulled out the gun man and I just, I, she, she screamed. So when she saw the gun and my reaction, screamed, fire. Then I just went to firing man, you know, and by the grace of God, like out of the three, four shots, by the grace of God, I can’t even tell you when I hit her because no one fell down. As a kid you see on TV, when someone gets shot, they always fall. And so no one fell, I didn’t even know anyone who had got shot. Uh, I was arrested three days later. Uh, I got arrested because I was in a stolen car and joy riding, you know, ended up being pressured, uh, ask some more questions and I ended up at, this thing was weighing heavy on my heart. Once I found out that lady had been shot, I ended up confessing to a cop in the back of a police car in the parking lot of the juvenile detention center. Uh, I was, you know, taken back downtown to talk to some detectives. Um, my confession was coerced out of me after that because they stopped. They did all types of things that they shouldn’t have done. Even though I was guilty. It’s still a ways you supposed to treat a child. He supposed to. You’re supposed to get their parents, you’re not supposed to stop at Popeye’s and get some chicken and biscuits being that the kid hasn’t ate in eight hours and give them food as as and put them on tape to talk to them and hold them and denied them sleep. All that I went through. I mean that doesn’t change what I did, but I was just watching the Netflix series, When They See Us and I was looking at that case of the central park five and what they went through and I’m looking at myself, it was very difficult to watch that because some of that had happened to me. Well, fast forward, I’ll never forget, you know, my lawyer, he came to me after my motion to suppress of my confession because he just, he tried to suppress my a confession because that’s the only evidence they had against me. There was no murder weapon. There was no, nobody identified me. That was just my statement. And once we, the judge denied the motion to suppress, he came to me and he told me to plead guilty that he had worked it out with the judge that he was going to give me 15 years. And I don’t know about you, but listening to someone tell you as a 13 year old child that you will only receive 15 years. That in of itself sounds like a life sentence to a 13 year old child. I told them, no, I don’t want to go to prison at all. He said, well, he worked on me for 10, 15 minutes leaning over the side of the jury box because they separate the juveniles from the adults, and so he had me. I was in a jury box sitting on at the end. He went, hopped over that to my mom. He had recently torn his achilles, hopped over there to my mom, talk to her for a little bit came my mom came to the side of the jury box to say, Ian, listen to your lawyer baby. I don’t want you to get life. Please just plead guilty. Do it for me. And I sat down. I thought my mom has the experience in the criminal justice system. Oh, I thought about all the times my mom had told me to do something and I did the opposite and I reaped the consequences of doing what I wanted versus what she said. And I just thought that I was doing the right thing. Well, she went to her grave regretting that decision because a couple months later on April 11 of 1991, uh, Judge Manuel Manendez looked down at me and said, Mr. Manual, that was a statement made earlier today in this courtroom about giving you a second chances, but for sometimes there are no second chances. So I sentence you to the rest of your natural life and the Florida Department of corrections and that sentence is concurrent. And I sentence you to life probation and that sentence is being imposed in case the Florida Department of Corrections should for whatever reason ever release you. Uh, this court is adjourn and so I will sent to prison as a, I had just turned 14. My birthday is March 29th. I was sentenced April 11th. So I had just turned 14. I had a fresh life sentence and I was scheduled to die in prison. It’s not a life sentence, it’s a death sentence. And one of the first things I did once I got to prison in 1991, I had to clear my conscience on, you could see this in a Starbucks documentary or uh, Befriending the Shooter. I um, I was going through my, my, my legal work and I found the, the, the, the victim slash now friend Debbie Bakeries. That’s one thing people don’t understand. Once all these cases, the case is final. The, the, the, the defendant gets the victim’s phone number, I and all of that in the police report. But there’s no need to really be, I would say scared cause the guy’s in prison trying to get out. You trying to fight for your freedom, hoping like how did I, this is what happened. Well, I did something, I’ve always back to imagination. I’ve always used my imagination. I still, I’ve, you gotta have a child like imagination. And so I said, you know what, I’m going to call this lady. I’m going to call this lady. So I went out to the compound and I never forget picking up the phone. Back then we had live operators. Uh, you press zero and the operator comes on and I said, uh, I have a collect call. And I, I remember wanting to lie and pretend again, childlike like imagination, 14 years old, pretend like I was the detective that was working the case, um, or the officer, the arresting officer. But then I just remember her saying that, Ian, if you want this to work right, if you want this, the, that, and then she won’t really wants to talk to you. Just gotta be yourself. You just got to be yourself. And so I, I told the operator, collect call from Ian to Debbie, the operator dialed the number, a lady on the other end picked up. The lady said, can you ask him his last name now? I had to say something again, so I’m put on the spot again. All everything I’m doing is like, it takes imagination and it takes courage because I was scared to death and I said, yeah, I can, I can tell her my last name is Manuel and Debbie said yes I except,I except. And I just remember just trying to blurt out something before she hung up. I was like, Debbie, uh, I like, it was Christmas. It was Christmas 1991. I said, uh, I like just, I’m calling just to wish you and your family a Merry Christmas and to apologize for shooting you shooting you in the face last year. And she asked in her next, the next thing she said was, she asked me a question no 14 year old should ever have to answer. She said, Ian, why did you shoot me? My reply and my truth was, it all happened so fast and it did. Um, we talked, I asked, could I call back? She said yes. We talked again another 15 minutes. I asked, could I do the one thing I knew that separated me from other people? I asked, could I write her. She said yes. That’s how our correspondence started. And we ended up writing each other for a few years. She had a lot of pressure from her husband, understandably so. And family members to let him die in prison, let him rot, why you communicate. And this animal, he tried to kill you. She tell me these things and I can understand if you don’t know my heart, if you don’t know a person’s heart, you know, uh, people, they see the surface. People have a sense of the surface and not the depth that comes from a person. And uh, she stuck to her guns and now, now she tells me I get texts or emails or phone conversation, Ian you make me so proud because now everyone has to eat those words.

 

Bryan:              00:40:00 That’s amazing. Why do you think she was willing to talk to you and why do you think she was willing to continue her correspondence and conversations with you despite the people in her life who were telling her not to?

 

Ian:                00:40:14 Well, in her own words, uh, she, uh, she said she hadn’t answered that initial phone call from morbid curiosity. That was, uh, that was the first say she asked her the first call for more curiosity, but she said she continued to conversation once she seen how well I wrote. She said my cynic structure and paragraphs and, and the way I, uh, had such a command of the English language at such a young age. She thought someone was writing my letters for me. Wow. And so once she discovered my intellect, she just wanted to continue to be a part of that and, and, and help nurture it.

 

Bryan:              00:40:55 That’s beautiful. Well, and I’m so moved by her willingness to forgive you for this. How long did it take you to forgive yourself and how did you do it?

 

Ian:                00:41:08 Oh, well, I’m still processing that. Oh. Because, you know, forgiving, forgiving yourself. I have to forgive myself a lot of things because I, I don’t just have to forgive myself for shooting her, I have to forgive myself for sending, sending my mom to an early grave, I believe. How to forgive myself for a thrown away my entire adolescence. I have to forgive myself for, you know, letting you know, letting myself down. I, I mean, there’s an old saying, it’s never too late to become what you might’ve been. Um, and I’m probably on the way to that right now, but I just want it as a child. I want it to be the next Michael Jordan. I was so good at basketball, even though I, as you can see, I’ve never grown higher than five, nine. They used to call me Baby Jordan on the court. Uh, and I had these dreams of just being a great NBA player, but I grew instead, I grew up in solitary confinement, listening to the finals on a transistor radio. Uh, the last championship I seen was game like game one of the 1992 Portland Trailblazers, Chicago Bulls. Uh, five months before I went to solitary confinement. You know, that’s how long I was in solitary, uh, before I was released in 2010. So I don’t know, I’m still in the process of forgiving myself. Every day is a new thing. But I will say that Debbie forgiving me was a huge burden lift. It was a huge burden lift. It makes me, makes forgiving myself a whole lot easier.

 

Bryan:              00:42:50 Yeah, it’s inspiring and people can learn about that both through this video that Starbucks produced as part of their upstanders series. Yes, yes. Which is pretty awesome. And we’ll link to in the show notes and then also Brian Stevenson who wrote about this and just, Just Mercy.

 

Ian:                00:43:06 Just mercy. Yes. And Just Mercy is coming out as a movie in January of next year, I don’t know if I’ll be featured in it, but I know Just Mercy is being made into a movie and Michael, Michael B. Jordan is playing Brian Stevenson.

 

Bryan:              00:43:20 Oh my goodness. Yeah. So, okay, let’s, let’s turn now to the conversation about your book. Will you please describe your book? Tell me who you wrote it for and how you want the world to be different because of it.

 

Ian:                00:43:35 Well, uh, I wrote my, I’m in the process of writing my book. Uh, you know, my book is called, My Time’s Going to Come. And I want, I wrote, I’m writing this book for the hopeless. I’m writing this book for the people who seeking fulfillment, who seem stuck, who believe that there’s more to life and that they’re not actually able to access it yet. Who, who I want to show people that modern day miracles happen, that they didn’t stop happening in the Christ days. You know, because me sitting here, uh, just giving you this interview with a sound mind, great health and are able to articulate myself is nothing short of a modern day miracle. Um, so that’s why I’m writing it for. The title of the book is My Time’s Going to Come. And I like the preface, you know, in the title with a point. Um, I wrote this poem out that I had been re sentenced to, oh 65 years after the US Supreme Court overturned my life sentences and I went back to Tampa for resentencing. I thought I was going home, but instead I was sentenced, resentenced to 65 years and I’m not an anomaly. A state courts all over the United States are doing, they’re trying to get as close to life as possible with a trick, a trick 20, catch 22. Like, okay, the Supreme Court says we can’t give them life, but they didn’t say we couldn’t give him 200 years. So they are just restructuring the sentences in a way which still equals a life sentence through a term of year sentence. And so I went back to up to a road in prison, very depressed and I wrote this poem and it says, I promise you the brunt of my oppression has a purpose and this same person that you persecute will one day be worshipped. Though I stand before you bare chested and shirtless with my soul and emotions naked. Just wanting to be nurtured. Yeah. Despite the desperation desertion and hurting my time, gonna come. Though I compose this poem not knowing if I’ll ever be able to perform it in an auditorium. I do it with the faith of our poet that believes he was born to do it like an acorn caught up in a storm flung from the branch where it was born. You can only hold me back for so long my time gonna come. Despite the difficulties and disappointments, my determination remains undaunted. Though the waters of my tomorrows are deep and uncharted. The buoyancy of my character will float unwavering towards him like a song written but unrecorded. My time gonna come. Though you wrap me in chains and sprayed me with chemical flames and did all of the things you did to add to my pain. My circumstances will change. I believe this with the depths of my being, that as long as this world continues to spin, it cannot end until it’s been enjoyed by Ian. Remember this day, because things won’t always be this way. My time gonna come. My time gonna come against all conceivable odds. My time gonna come. And so I wrote that poem when my life was at its lowest and that’s another way I do my imagination, wheel things into existence. You know?

 

Bryan:              00:47:51 Thank you for sharing that.

 

Ian:                00:47:52 You’re welcome. You’re welcome. You’re welcome. Hopefully your audience is like, like, like it as well. Um, and the third part of the question was what?

 

Bryan:              00:48:03 So how do you want the world to be different because of it?

 

Ian:                00:48:05 Oh my God, that is I want, I want, I want, I want people to take a harder look at who we put in an office that structured these laws. Uh, I want, I want the homeless person or the person in Syria that’s being bombed and think, thinking that there’s no, no one cares about them. That, that there is no hope to look at my situation and see how I was in a situation. So beyond anyone. I was in a situation where no one could change my situation, but God or the universe, whatever faith you believe that the power I was, I had a natural life sentence buried alive. Every immediate family member dead. Uh, no lawyer, no money. But yet I had the hope in the wheel power not to kill myself, not to give up hope and change. So I want to write this book for the hopeless, the voiceless. But even though the executives, even the executives that have them take a deeper look at them themselves and be like, if this guy Ian didn’t give up and he has something, where is it within me? What is my purpose here? What, what is my purpose on earth? And have them just do a self examination and it figure out how can they use what they currently have to serve others.

 

Bryan:              00:49:41 That’s spiritual work right there. That’s beautiful. I know your work has already touched many lives. Thank you. And I’m really looking forward to seeing this book come out and, uh, potentially hosting a launch party here in Utah.

 

Ian:                00:49:55 Yes sir.

 

Bryan:              00:49:55 So maybe one of many across the country and maybe even around the world because we get this message out in this giving voice to the voiceless and hope to the hopeless.

 

Ian:                00:50:04 One, one last thing I like to add. The reentry process is extremely difficult. Ah, I had a lot of help, uh, when I got out of prison. If I didn’t have the Equal Justice Initiative helping me, uh, I wouldn’t be able to focus on my talent because I would be in survival mode. You know, I wouldn’t be having the ability to focus on working on a book with Random House. So I would ask, you know, if your listeners are philanthropists and interested in helping someone. There’s finally a, uh, a reentry program in Florida where I, it’s, it’s a small one, but it just started, it’s about a social worker who Brian Stevenson hired to come see me. She helped create it with the, a, uh, a pastor in a, in Florida, it’s called Joseph’s House. And Bryan Stevenson hired his social worker name Morria Morrison whose dad lives in Utah. Uh, yeah. And she is a wonderful lady. She copied the entire GED book, sent it to me a chapter at a time. So people might wonder, okay, Ian you’re smart, but how did you get an education? Well, this lady took the time to tediously copy the entire GED book, send it to me a chapter at a time and send it back and let me know what I needed to correct. So once I was out of confinement, because you can’t get an education in solitary, that I would finally be able to take the GED test. I took the GED test in 2013 and passed the first time, and it was greatly part due to this lady taking the time out to nurturing me.

 

Bryan:              00:51:40 Congrats on that. I mean, that’s one thing with this that I think people might not think of, but all the things you missed out on that a normal, learning to drive a car, going to prom, right. You know, this, this kind of thing. Getting your own apartment. I mean it’s, I imagine in some ways you must’ve felt like when you watch those SiFi movies and somebody in cryogenic sleep, and then time passes and then you arrive and it’s like, whoa. What’s been the hardest thing for you as you’ve resumed life or, or began life?

 

Ian:                00:52:11 I think just female relationships. Um, um, uh, I’m very good guys used to pay me to write their girlfriends poetry and so I’m very in tune with the, the female way of thinking. But uh, one thing that gets in the way is, uh, my fast thought process. So I’m already in the mind state of let’s from A to Z and the female is more slow, let me get to know you.

 

Bryan:              00:52:41 What do you mean by A to Z? Cause some people would say let’s get in bed, but do you mean like let’s have a family but let’s move in together.

 

Ian:                00:52:48 Oh well yeah, just probably get it get in bad because after 26 years of being denied access to just, just companionship, you know, that’s something that I really wanted bad and getting out in society, people got this new word called thirsty. I wasn’t thirsty, I was dehydrated.

 

Bryan:              00:53:09 I can barely imagine. And, and that thing you said about thinking you were going to, you were going to go home and instead 65 year sentence. I mean, I’m disappointed when I get to the airport and my flight is delayed, you know, or they don’t have my meal or something. I can barely imagine.

 

Ian:                00:53:25 It was an additional five years after that before I finally got out. So it was meant to be, but I’m glad it, you know, sometimes God does things in his timing and I look back on my life and I promise you I wouldn’t change a thing. Nothing. I wouldn’t change a thing. That’s amazing. Yeah. Um, the lady I shot is my friend now. Uh, you know, she, she started a wonderful career first in bodybuilding. She credits me with that. Uh, and then she, now she’s a real estate agent. And despite me losing all of my family, man, that’s the most painful part. It lets me know what the human spirit can endure and still continue to have hope and love and perseverance.

 

Bryan:              00:54:15 Hearing you say that reminds me of that, saying that God’s delays are not God’s denials. Yes. Right. Amazing. Okay, so if you’re, if you’re good with it, I want to turn the conversation now to the enlightening lightning round and just ask you maybe 10 questions, eight or nine questions. Okay. Short, short form. You can answer as long as you want, but I’ll keep my question short. Okay. Okay. And then I want to ask a little bit about your creative process. Okay. Are you okay with that?

 

Ian:                00:54:45 Yeah. Let’s try and get through it.

 

Bryan:              00:54:47 Here we go. Okay. First question, please complete the following sentence with something other than a box of chocolates. Life is like a?

 

Ian:                00:54:56 A beautiful rose blooming, slowly.

 

Bryan:              00:54:57 Slowly. Number two, what something at which you wish you were better?

 

Ian:                00:55:05 Math.

 

Bryan:              00:55:06 Number three, if you were required every day for the rest of your life to wear a tee shirt with a slogan on it or a phrase or a saying or a quote or equip, what would the shirt say?

 

Ian:                00:55:15 The impossible is obtainable.

 

Bryan:              00:55:18 Number four, what book or books other than your own have you gifted or recommended most often.

 

Ian:                00:55:28 Gary Zukav, The Seat of the Soul.

 

Bryan:              00:55:31 Number five. When you travel, what’s one travel hack, meaning something you do or something you take with you to make your travel less painful or more enjoyable?

 

Ian:                00:55:41 A song called Life in Favor by John Pekey. I look at it, I listen to it doing every turbulence, shake or take off a landing. Life in Favor.

 

Bryan:              00:55:53 All right, next question. What’s one thing you’ve started or stopped doing in order to live or age?

 

Ian:                00:56:00 Ah, what have I stopped doing or started doing? Ah, that’s a difficult cause I don’t drink, I don’t do alcohol and I don’t do marijuana. What do I, what have I stopped doing? Um, I started taking a different medication. I started taking a different medication to help me, you know, be more calm and serene.

 

Bryan:              00:56:24 And it sounds like you’ve also started doing at least a little bit of yoga with Shawn.

 

Ian:                00:56:30 Yes. Yes. Me and Shawn Coyne do a yoga retreats once a year. Uh, we have one coming up in October and uh, she’s, I believe the universe. I believe so in Gary Zukav book, uh, The Seat of the Soul. It talks about you meeting people in a different lifetime and you know, you haven’t agreements to meet in this lifetime. I think Sean was one of those people because, uh, my publisher just pointed this out to me actually, and not because of her name, but at Sean and Ian means the exact same thing. God’s gift. Wow. And we just, we have so much in common. So yeah, I do some yoga and through her yoga connections, she’s like a, she has a lot of yoga connections through it, uh, throughout the United States. So other women, once they know, I know Sean, they, oh, you sure I’ll help you out with some yoga. So yeah, I do yoga. At least try to do it at least once a week.

 

Bryan:              00:57:25 That’s awesome. What’s one thing you wish every American knew?

 

Ian:                00:57:30 I wish every American knew the pain that people go through in solitary confinement that people are treated. I remember doing the outcry of the Abu Gray, uh, uh, prison that was occurring in Iraq. And I’m like, they’re doing the same exact thing right here in the United States. Where’s the outcry for us? So I just wish the American public knew what went on in its prison system.

 

Bryan:              00:58:02 Mm. What’s the most important thing you’ve ever learned about money?

 

Ian:                00:58:07 You need to manage it better.

 

Bryan:              00:58:10 That could probably always be true no matter what. Right. What’s the most useful relationship advice you’ve ever heard and successfully applied.

 

Ian:                00:58:20 Relationship advice? Oh man, that’s so much, man. Relationship advice. I think that a, and I apply this a lot to really listen to people. Don’t just hear them. They listen to, and when I say, listen, you have to use, and I’m, I’m making this part up. Don’t listen. Just listen with your ears. Listen with your eyes, listen to what your energy feel to what the other person is saying. Because people will talk to you through all types of instances.

 

Bryan:              00:58:55 Yeah. If people want to learn more from you, they want to connect with you, what would you have them do?

 

Ian:                00:59:01 I would have them, uh, reach out to me on, um, my email is Ian Manual. I A N M A N U E L 3 2 9 @gmail.com. Uh, we’re currently in the process of trying to get a website up and um, you can contact my publisher Random House. And you or you can reach out to me on my Instagram page, which is at the_diamond_in_the_dirt. So that’s T H E slash, I mean underscore diamond, underscore, in underscore, the underscore, dirt.

 

Bryan:              00:59:34 Okay. And Ian, one of the things that I’ve done in order to show a little bit of gratitude for you making time to share your experience and your wisdom with me and our listeners is I’ve gone on kiva.org and I’ve made a hundred dollar micro loan to an entrepreneur in a developing country. So I just want to say thank you for, for doing this.

 

Ian:                00:59:55 Thank you for doing that. I mean any undeveloped country that I can help support is, is something that I’m glad to do, thank you.

 

Bryan:              01:00:02 Okay. So I know we’re just about at time here, but I want to, I just want to wrap up our conversation by inquiring a little bit about your creative process.

 

Ian:                01:00:12 Yeah, I’ll happy to share. My creative process comes in very different ways. I think the number one way that I create is when I feel challenged, when I feel like, oh, this person is doubting me. Like, you know, like I walk in the room and I’m because I’m black because I’m a convicted felon. Uh, you and I don’t have those credentials of someone that might’ve went to, uh, Juilliard or Tish that you are, don’t think I have what it takes to deliver. I love that. I love just, oh, I love just like producing something that leaves you, just make your jaw drop. Um, and so that’s my, that’s my number one way I create. There’s some also times where something that hit me, like, wait till I send you a poem about, uh, yesterday, someone in class talk about, spoke about their, if your dreams were on fire, which one would you save? And I immediately felt that inspiration that only an artist gets when he knows he has heard something that he’s going to make into something great. Uh, so sometimes it’s just something out here and that’s something I’ll see. And yesterday was one of those moments.

 

Bryan:              01:01:24 Wow. And then in terms of actually getting a poem created, do you have any kind of a daily routine that you follow that you, you know, maybe make time in the morning or.

 

Ian:                01:01:35 So I write best in the morning or for whatever reason my mind is fresh. Uh, I really, coffee helps, coffee helps do, does something stimulate stuff. The neurons in my brain and all I need is that one line, that one little line I’ll play around with man. Uh, that, that will just trigger something like, oh, I wrote one, I wrote one last night. I was looking at, I was on your porch. Uh, I wrote this line last night and it’s just, it’s a pretty good line. So I’m going to share it. It says, uh, I’m doing, I’m thinking of doing my next interview at the Grand Canyon when they ask how did you go from solitary to being Ian Manuel I’m gonna tell him that’s how God planned it because, you know what I’m saying? Just something, just something unique, I think in rhyme patterns. Like that’s the way my thought process works. And it’s just, it’s so natural to me now. I do it as natural as breathing.

 

Bryan:              01:02:36 I love that. So before we began recording, we were having a conversation about youth and about when your book comes out and the possibility of having there be a tie to schools or other places in our communities just in service of that original flow of conversation. As we bring this conversation to a close, I wonder if you’d be willing to bring us back to what we were talking about before we started recording. So our listeners maybe also have the benefit of that.

 

Ian:                01:03:09 Yeah. So in the book vetting process, one of the things that you will experience is the various book companies telling you how, why you should sign with their company, what they will have to offer you. And in my process being that I, my crime occurred when I was a young child. Uh, they were telling me how that they could help get my book on the Commons reads list, you know, these companies.

 

Bryan:              01:03:33 What is that comment?

 

Ian:                01:03:34 The comment reads is books that are recommended, uh, to income and college students freshmen’s for them to read the one a year and give a report on, you know, during the semester. And so I just, oh, I was very interested in that because that’s one part of the population. My story are for some, some authors would be a dream, um, because it’s, it, it touches on so many different components of the justice system. You have the juvenile justice system. Uh, you have the solitary confinement system justice system. Uh, you have the restorative justice system. Me and my victim forgiving me and me making that reaching out in that call. Uh, so there’s so many different aspects of it, but I was particularly moved that there’s, that during a publishing process that the companies are actually thinking ahead on how to help youth, uh, actually get books in their hands that actually move them. Because when I’m speaking to kids, I’ve had kids come up to me, which have led to other speaking engagements. I spoke at our, uh, Ivy League prep school called Horace Mann in the Bronx. It’s where a lot of rich people send their kids, uh, to prepare them for Ivy League schools. And I just remember student after student coming up to me saying, Ian, wow, that was amazing. They always bring these PhD people here and we, we sit in our seats so bored man, but your poetry, you should turn your poetry into a rap, man, we, I was so engaged. When are you coming back? I hadn’t even left yet. And it was asking me when was I coming back?

 

Bryan:              01:05:10 Encore, encore.

 

Ian:                01:05:11 Encore, you know. Oh. And so to hear these publishers have a plan in place to get these books to youth was something that I really appreciated.

 

Bryan:              01:05:22 What can we do as ordinary citizens to help make sure that what’s happened to you? Never happens again.

 

Ian:                01:05:33 Oh Man. I would say I would say support the arts. I was recently out of billionaires house call, his name is Michael Novogratz. And he said something that, oh, that I hadn’t even thought about in, he said that, you know, in history when things are, when you want to look at things to change, you know, the arts are, uh, usually influence those changes. Uh, and I thought about that and he said, so that’s why me and my wife, uh, want to, you know, be philanthropists and donate to arts that, you know, it helped with the social justice change. He says, it’s my job, I follow numbers. He says, that’s what I’ve done in my whole career. And I’m studying the numbers on this thing, the social justice and the way the criminal justice system is ran. And it’s showing me that it’s not sustainable. Now. This is from a guy who’s a numbers guy. I’m not a numbers guy. I’m a wordsmith. And so I’m, people listen when he taught and so, and he’s saying this and he’s saying he wants to, you know, donate towards the art. So I would, I would, one of the number one things I would do is recommend that even ordinary people, if it’s $5, it’s $10. It’s support organizations or support artists who are using their arts to transform the social, you know, the social justice climate. I’m currently a, I currently was granted a grant by the National Endowment of the Arts. I got 55,000. We went in trying to get, uh, we went in trying to get 80,000. Uh, but we’re trying to get the most that we can get to put on a play a show about, you know, my life. Incorporating kids that shows how the criminal justice system is ran to actually shock the conscience of the public to come sit. They’re not going to go to prison himself to confront them with the ugliness of the actions of this prison system to make compel a change. Otherwise that probably won’t happen if just sit around and do nothing.

 

Bryan:              01:07:42 Yeah. Well that, and I think the causes and conditions that contribute to people even entering the justice system.

 

Ian:                01:07:49 Yes. I totally agree. Yeah. I totally agree.

 

Bryan:              01:07:52 Amazing. Okay. What advice do you leave or inspiration do you leave our listeners with to help them complete and share their own creative projects in a way that will make a difference in the world?

 

Ian:                01:08:03 I’ll leave them with this poem called Every Time I Breathe. “Every time I breathe I feel the need to justify my existence to take this moment then I’m living and enjoy every millisecond in it. My life, my struggles, not many can comprehend it. My desire for freedom burns like of sauces and skillet. Tomorrow isn’t promised. So I’m thankful for this minute though in prison merely exists in, it’s like my life has been suspended, but that means it’s temporary because I haven’t been expelled and I still got a chance as long as I can. In an exhale every time I breathe. Every time I breathe I’m thankful for the oxygen from the trees and little things like little bees that get overlooked until they stain. Every day I’m faced with obstacles that block the progress to my dreams, but the blockades only masquerades like costumes on Halloween. I’ve been through enough pain to make a sane man just scream. But instead I take a deep breath and just breathe. Every time I breathe the cosmo’s come out on my nostrils, like particles of product coming out of your console. My soul is like a chihuahua. You didn’t include in your car pool. My lungs relaxed and collapse, like a bottom, sitting on a bar stool. Every time I breathe, every time I breathe I become an intergalactic being, stepping out of character like a chiropractor. Snapping peas I’d prayed so many times. It’s like I got arthritis in my knees, but I still get down and bow my head. Cause I continue to believe that as long as I can breathe God’s gonna make a change and my circumstances only chances for me to glorify his name. You don’t know me homie, but that’s odds I’ve already overcame. So a praying works but hurts. Then I could stand a little pain. I want to end this part by thanking God for bringing me to these heights. And I make a promise to always honor and cherish this breath of life. Every time I breathe. Yeah. Every time I breathe, every time, I, breathe.”

 

Bryan:              01:10:56 Amazing. Hey, I have an idea. Let’s go stand where Jordan hit that shot.

 

Ian:                01:11:00 I call that. I want to do that,

 

Bryan:              01:11:03 All right we’re going to head to that arena and see where Jordan hit that shot over Brian Russell. It’s, I’m going to get over the soreness, but again, Ian thank you so much for being, being here for accepting the invitation to come to Utah, be a part of The School For Good Living Coach Training Programs. Stay in my home. Share this interview. I’m so looking forward to your book coming out. I want to be a part of helping you get your message out. So this has been a privilege and an honor. Thank you. You’re welcome.