A Poor Imitation of Death: Youth in the California Prison System

Ara Oshagan


Book Details
ISBN-13: 9781954119307
150 pages; 100 Photographs
7  x 9.5 inches
$50 US

*Books will ship in July

A Poor Imitation of Death is a complex and collaborative narrative about youth in prison: meshing photographs with the youth’s handwritten letters, poems, and artwork to create a unique and authentic voice that speaks about the realities of life in prison. It tells a harsh story: full of despair, raw emotion and injustice but also of incredible resilience, inner strength and huge potential for change. It indicts an inhumane and broken California prison system that has changed little over two decades.


Ara Oshagan is a diasporic transdisciplinary artist, curator and cultural worker whose practice explores collective and personal histories of marginalization, displacement, identity, legacies of violence and (un)imagined futures. A descendant of communities uprooted from their indigenous land by the Armenian Genocide, he was born in Lebanon and displaced by war as a youth to the US. Oshagan has published three books of photography and has exhibited his artwork and public art internationally.


World renowned for “radical kinship” and “boundless compassion,” Father Gregory Boyle is the founder of Homeboy Industries, the largest gang re-entry program in the US and a national model. He is the author of three books, including the 2010 New York Times bestseller Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion.