Political Prisoner, Poet, Writer, Translator, Teacher –
Marilyn Buck began her antiracist activism as a teenager in Texas. As a college student, she organized against the war in Vietnam and in solidarity with the Black liberation movement. “After less than a decade as a political activist,” she writes,“I went to prison, convicted of procuring firearms for the Black Liberation Army. I faced 10 years in prison—a very long time for a young woman.”
After serving four years, Marilyn was granted a furlough from prison and did not return. She spent the next eight years in clandestinity. Marilyn was recaptured in 1985. In addition to charges related to Assata Shakur’s escape, she was convicted of conspiracy to protest government policies (the invasion of Grenada and military intervention in Central America) through the use of violence against government property. Her total sentence was 80 years.
“The trials, those years of intense repression and US government denunciations of my humanity had beat me up rather badly. Whatever my voice had been, it was left frayed. I could scarcely speak.” Instead, Marilyn wrote. “For prisoners, writing is a life raft to save one from drowning in a prison swamp. I could not write a diary or a journal; I was a political prisoner. Everything I had was subject to investigation, invasion and confiscation. I was a censored person. In defiance, I turned to poetry, an art of speaking sparely, but flagrantly.”
Marilyn’s poems can be found in many collections, in her chapbook, Rescue the Word, and on her CD Wild Poppies. She has been awarded three prizes by the PEN Prison Writing Program, including first prize for poetry in 2001. Some of her poems are online here.
Marilyn has long translated for Spanish-speaking women held in prison, and she is now translating Spanish literature to English. In 2009 City Lights published her translation of Uruguayan poet-in-exile Cristina Peri Rossi’s extraordinary collection, State of Exile. Read more about her publications.
She has also taught writing, GED preparation, history, and yoga inside.
One of more than 100 political prisoners in the United States, Marilyn is proof that imagination and solidarity can’t be stifled, no matter how many prisons or patriot acts we face.
her address is:
MARILYN BUCK 00482-285
P.O. BOX 27137
FORT WORTH TX 76127
Read a recent profile of Marilyn by a long-time activist friend at Austin’s Rag Blog.