I’ve been corresponding with Carl Harp for more than a year. He’s serving a 95-year-minimum sentence in Washington State Penitentiary for murder — a crime he says he didn’t commit. For the past 11 months, he’s been in solitary confinement for trying to organize other prisoners to speak up for their constitutional rights.

As the excerpts from his letters suggest, he is an extraordinarily eloquent man. Of his drawings, many of which we’ve published before, he says, “They are me, myself, I cannot help the drawing, it just comes; I can’t draw so I do the best I can.”

A set of three of his books of drawings and poetry is available for $5 from King Publications, P.O. Box 19332, Washington, D.C. 20036. Carl welcomes letters. His address is Carl Harp, No. 126 516, Box 520, Washington State Penitentiary, Walla Walla, Washington 99362.

— Ed.

The drawings in this selection are available as a PDF only. Click here to download.


Being is my every breath, the truth I bathe in; Reality is my all even when it tears at me behind these walls. I will not look away, I have seen all the games, and though I am not perfect (who is?) I am not needing those things for they are not lasting.

Right now we are dead-locked in our cells. The Warden threw a fit because some blacks demanded to see him about his firing a black cop and so he is punishing us all by a lock down, two days old now, we are eating little, pot pies and state coffee, things are well, though. . . .

I am a gentle man, trying to remain dreaming of Truth, Justice, Mankind. I have seen these things to be of a greater truth than the duality and materialism around us. If I am freed from here my heart will soar with you; if not, I will get over it. Life is but a passing thing, part only of a whole.

The world is so small, yet filled with so much, it makes me laugh, it makes me cry. Why am I? I ask it, and just as I am to overturn the pebble that hides myself I see how ignorant I am and how far away the answer to my question is. Change, constant endless change, even as I breathe, change. I wish I could communicate it all. . . .