Raegan Butcher, undeniably influenced by such luminaries as Bukowski and Bunker, manages to find his own voice in these poems and uses it to avoid the clichés of prison writing while delivering a truly authentic record of his time behind bars. His simple and direct style makes his work immediately accessible both to those who shun traditional poetry and experienced poetry readers alike, and the story told in these pages is as compelling as it is genuine. Stone Hotel is a no frills ride through one man's experience in the United States prison system and all of the lunacy, horror and meditation that entails.
124 pages long with 96 poems, this is a limited first printing of 2,000 copies, all of which are hand numbered. The book itself is a handsome specimen of fine printing.
The covers, printed with our friends at Pinball Publishing in Portland, are truly remarkable—printed on a unique paper with a single color offset press and a letterpress, each cover went through the presses five times. On two passes through the offset press we employed an experimental technique of using a varnish on unfinished paper to create the effect of a stain—in effect changing the color of the paper without applying any pigment. Each cover was also hand letterpressed for the printing of the title and scoring of the cover. This makes for an inimitable cover that has to be seen and handled to be fully appreciated. And we'll just let you find out about the fine endsheets on your own.
“Among the most touching aspects of the poetry of Butcher is his lack of self-pity and prisoner rhetoric (overt misguided emotion, revenge themes, repentance, etc.).”
Verbicide, issue #9
“These poems are meaningful and strong, each one a stark glimpse of prison life, a bleak, raw snapshot of that reality and the ponderings on life that spring from it.”
Clamor, issue #6, January 2001
“OK. First off, I have to admit that I don't really like much poetry. Being one who finds the majority of the poetry I have seen too lofty, uninspired, or just aesthetically awful, I told Clamor I probably wouldn't be the best candidate for reviewing this, and started curiously flipping though anyway. Needless to say, I ended up eating my words. Maybe I've just been reading the wrong poetry . . .
“This is Butcher’s first book, and a commendable one in many ways. These poems are meaningful and strong, each one a stark glimpse of an aspect of prison life, a bleak, raw snapshot of that reality and the ponderings on life that spring from it. They cut directly to the essential feeling underlying what they're addressing. For example, in "love is a clenched fist", Raegan writes "i am surrounded / by men who live / in cages / and blink in the sun / like psychotic moles / connoisseurs of / hatred / disguised as racial pride / the tattooed husbands / of battered wives / who think / love is a clenched fist." Others detail being strip searched by guards, being caught by the police and processed, the vibe in the mess hall, prison power dynamics, anxiety about getting out, suicide attempts, unfulfilled sexual desires, time, war, his childhood and wage slavery.
“What initially drew me to the book is the cover, a beautiful mixture of offset printing and letterpress printed by Pinball Publishing in Portland, OR. It is more than something to stick the pages inside; it is an artwork unto itself.
“All-in-all, a great beginning for Raegan, and another well-executed piece of work conceived of and assembled by the folks at CrimethInc., one of their best yet in my opinion. The attention to all aspects of the book and all of the processes it took to create it, beyond (of course) the poetry itself, personalizes the book, making for something more akin to an artifact than a mass-produced item for mass-produced consumption.”
Clamor, july/august 2003
“It should be obvious that everyone who works with Verbicide is a huge Raegan Butcher fan—from his prose to his poetry, the guy can really write, and I'm really proud that some of his poems were published in Verbicide issue #7. Among the most touching aspects of the poetry of Butcher—written during his recently-ended seven-year stint in prison for armed robbery—is his lack of self-pity and prisoner rhetoric (overt misguided emotion, revenge themes, repentance, etc.). The poetry is simple in its raw honesty and beautiful in its mature-yet-accessible language and intensly personal insights. I am routinely unimpressed by CrimethInc.'s bullshit propaganda, but they have done a huge service to the literary world by printing this book. 'Nuff said. Buy this book. Butcher's poetry is a must-read.”
Verbicide, issue #9
“I encounter a lot of trite crap posing as poetry. Often I read or hear poems that are so bad I squirm in embarrassment on behalf of the author. Having been subjected to many poorly contrived pieces, I was surprised and exhilarated when I began reading Stone Hotel. I was sucked in, immediately hooked by the dramatic pictures painted by Butcher—often in few words, but always in vivid detail . . .
“I particularly appreciate Butcher's straight-up honesty. He manages to write about his love for his young daughter and of romance lost without seeming sappy or fake. Whether writing about strip searches or self-gratification, he doesn't sugarcoat or pretend. My favorite pieces are his brief and pointed descriptions of inmates he encounters. These poems are as short as eleven words, but they speak volumes nonetheless. Butcher makes each word count.
“This book illuminates a skill and talent that goes beyond sharing the details of life in prison, although (according to my friends behind bars) Butcher does that well. The greatest beauty here is that Butcher puts words together in ways that shock and delight.”
SlINGSHOT, issue #82, Winter 2001
The first printing has sold out, and while the book may be reprinted at some point, in the meantime we have a full PDF for you to read.
Size: 4.75" x 7.5" x .375"
Weight: 5.6 ounces
Pages: 120 + cover
Ink: Three-color on cover and black bleeds throughout.
Raegan Butcher was born in Seattle in 1969 but moved to rural Snohomish when he was very young. In 1996 he was convicted of First Degree Armed Robbery and sentenced to eight years in prison. He is currently incarcerated and is scheduled to be released in 2003.
His relationship with CrimethInc. began when he received some CrimethInc. publications in prison, and subsequently sent us a few poems that he was working on. Stone Hotel is his first book.