Human Powered

Real people. Real stories. Humanity unlocked. A podcast about the power of the humanities in Wisconsin prisons. 

In season two we are talking with people who have been impacted by the justice system. From a storytelling workshop at Oak Hill Correctional Facility, to a poetry workshop with people who were formerly incarcerated, to a conversation with writers and editors of prison newspapers, we are digging into the importance of the humanities as tools for searching for meaning and understanding. With our hosts Dasha Kelly Hamiton and Adam Carr we are bringing you remarkable stories of people inside and outside Wisconsin prisons who are using the humanities to overcome the dehumanization of incarceration.    

“My body’s locked up. My mind is not locked up.”

                    -Robert Taliaferro    

Listen & Subscribe in any of your preferred podcast apps or listen on this page by clicking the orange ‘play’ icon. Be sure to click ➔ links to find cool EPISODE EXTRAS!


In the first episode of our show, we are stepping out with the remarkable and singular Dasha Kelly Hamilton. dasha wields words to make magic happen, whether on stage herself, in writing sessions like Prose and Cons, a poetry workshop at Racine Correctional Institution, or while chatting with co-host and public historian Adam Carr. We’ll drop into one of her workshops to hear how power can be rooted in humanity and expressed through poetry. Dasha says that most people who meet her don’t know what they are getting into, so get ready. This is going to be good!     


A mic and five minutes

We all have a story worth sharing. In this episode we visit with some of the key players behind UW-Madison’s first credit-bearing course inside any state prison since 1917. We will learn what makes Odyssey Beyond Bars storytelling workshops so meaningful for the participants, and meet Mark Espanol, who shared his story at the English 101 graduation inside Oak Hill Correctional Facility.


Three convicts, twenty dollars, and a newspaper

➔People inside U.S. prisons have been running their own newsrooms since 1800. Founded in 1887, the Prison Mirror is often considered the best prison newspaper in the United States. In the 1980s, Robert Taliaferro was a writer and editor for The Mirror, as it was called in those days. In this episode, we talk with Robert and Shannon Ross, a writer who started The Community in 2014 when he was in prison. The newsletter, which he still edits today, reaches half of Wisconsin’s prison population. With hosts Adam Carr and Dasha Kelly Hamilton, Robert and Shannon consider how important it is to center human stories of people who are incarcerated, and for all of us to hear about prisons from those who have an inside perspective.  


Listen to Human Powered Season One here.

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Dasha Kelly Hamilton is a writer, performance artist and creative change agent. She applies the creative process to facilitate dialogues around human and social wellness. She is the author of novels, poetry collections, spoken word albums, and a touring production called Makin’ Cake. She is currently Poet Laureate for both the City of Milwaukee and the State of Wisconsin. Her A Line Meant project is a statewide poetry exchange for traditional Wisconsin residents and residents of Wisconsin prisons.



Adam Carr is a storyteller, artist, filmmaker, radio producer, urban explorer, community organizer and historian. He is also a lifelong Milwaukeean and works at the intersection of community and communication. He helped organize events to acknowledge the 50th anniversary of the open housing marches in Milwaukee and is the author of “Explore MKE: Your Neighborhood, Our City,” a children’s book made in collaboration with third graders. He works for the Milwaukee Parks Foundation as the Director of Strategic Partnerships.

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Jimmy Gutierrez (he/him) is a journalist, storyteller and audio producer from Milwaukee. He’s currently working on filling information gaps in Milwaukee’s low-wealth neighborhoods with the help of Stanford’s JSK Fellowship. He’s helped launch, co-host and produce a number of different podcasts during his time at New Hampshire Public Radio.  

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Craig Eley is an audio producer and cultural historian whose work was been heard in radio shows, podcasts, documentaries, and museum installations. He previously worked for the radio show To the Best of Our Knowledge and has a Ph.D. in American Studies from the University of Iowa. He lives in Madison with his wife and son.

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 Jen Rubin is the Executive Producer at Love Wisconsin. She leads storytelling workshops with the Odyssey Project’s Odyssey Beyond Bars English class and co-produces the Moth StorySlam in Madison. She  wrote the book, We Are Staying: Eighty Years in the Life of a Family, a Store, and a Neighborhood.



Jade Iseri-Ramos is an audio producer based out of Madison. She is also a reporter and producer with WORT 89.9FM.



Jessica Becker works as the Director of Communication for Wisconsin Humanities. She has spent her 20 year career with Wisconsin Humanities creating and managing statewide programs that celebrate the state’s people and stories. She holds a Masters in Museum Education and lives in Madison with her husband and daughters.



For the second season of Human Powered, our interns contributed their talents and dedication to help bring the show into other world. From top left to bottom right: Kali Froncek, Alejandro Dominguez, Kamika Patel, and Megan Gordon.