Listen To CT Public Interviews With MacArthur Genius Grant Recipient Reginald Dwayne Betts
New Haven poet and lawyer Reginald Dwayne Betts has won a 2021 MacArthur Genius grant.
Speaking on Connecticut Public Radio’s Where We Live in 2019, he described discovering poetry as a teenager.
Betts said the frame of a poem gives a writer structure and possibility.
“A novel, at a young age, you can imagine it being endless. But a poem ... You read a hundred poems, and all of them seem really intentional about where they start and where they end,” Betts said.
Betts became a writer after going to prison at age 16, having taken part in a carjacking.
After getting out of prison, Betts graduated from Yale Law School and worked at the New Haven Public Defender’s Office.
Betts has published collections of poetry, including “Felon,” which looks at the criminal justice system.