There is a saying that you’ll hear from the old-timers in Chicago, “If you keep throwing rocks at the pen, you will build yourself a cell.” Growing up on the south side, Damion Catledge heard this saying often, but it wasn’t until he was 24, that those cautionary words really started to sink in. Catledge threw one too many rocks, and caught a six-year sentence for drug trafficking.
“When I left at 24, I had real responsibilities. I had a car, I had an apartment, and I had children,” Catledge tells Madison365. “The real tragedy was that me and all my brothers were locked up together. I am the oldest. We were all in the same tier. Waking up every day with each other in jail. That is when I was like, ‘This is too much!”
While incarcerated, Catledge penned his poem, “L.I.F.E: (Living Inside a Felon’s Eternity.)” where he grapples with the magnitude of his choices, and what the felon label could mean for his future.
“My eyes have been open, and now I step into the light. A light I could not have seen in the weed smoke and club nights. Cause when you on that bunk staring at the ceiling, illing. Blinking and thinking about what’s important. Never receiving mail from Pelle Pelle or Air Jordan,” he says. “That’s when reality sinks into the depths of your head. If I wasn’t in here, I’d probably be dead … 20, 30 years, this X will remain. Even though I’ve changed, you look down on me the same. This is the felon’s pain.”
Catledge realized he did not have to allow his time behind bars to mar the rest of his life. He continued to put all of his experiences on paper to cope with the hardships of incarceration. In the Positive Living Unit (a section of the prison for inmates who are dedicated to making constructive changes in their lives upon release,) he met A. Freedom Sun and Knowledge Magnetic Born. Since they all had a passion for writing, they decided to collaborate.
“We had a creative writing group and we did poetry slams. One day [A. Freedom Sun] said we should try to put something together and take it to the next level,” Catledge remembered. “Take it outside the prison. I was a ‘short-timer.’ I did three years in prison. [A. Freedom Sun] has 26 years. He told me, ‘You are a smart guy. I know you can go out there and be effective and run with it.’”
Catledge did indeed run with it. Upon his release, he continued his work with A. Freedom Sun and Knowlege Magnetic Born. Together, they formed The Promethean Media Group. Members of the collective aim to share their knowledge, sufferings, hopes and passion of life in inner-city Chicago, showcasing not only the negative consequences of street life, but the possibilities for redemption. Catledge believes, “a Promethean is an overcomer, an overachiever. One who has superhuman strength.”
“Throwing Rocks at the Pen” is available on Amazon.