The Prison Diary of Arthur Longworth #299180


The Prison Diary of Arthur Longworth #299180
ISBN: 978-0944550-07-6
Pygmy Forest Press

From Pygmy Forest Press publisher Leonard J. Cirino: 

Arthur Longworth, 43, has been incarcerated since age 18. His youth was spent in a variety of foster homes–usually for only two or three months at a time. He was separated from his sister at an early age and, in his teens, he lived in a series of youth facilities. At sixteen he was released to the streets with no means of support. he had only a seventh grade education and began life in Seattle breaking into cars and doing petty criminal activity. At age 18 he escalated into armed robbery and in one holdup a victim was killed. Arthur was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life without parole.


After he arrived in prison he asked to go to school to get an education. He was told that as a “lifer” he wouldn’t need an education. Eventually he visited the library and educated himself. He is a PEN prisoner writing award winner and has published one of his Prison Diary at the Anne Frank Center in New York City. Longworth’s writing have also recently appeared in Iconoclast, a New York literary magazine.

The diary itself is a collection of eleven short entries reflecting on Longworth’s experiences in the Monroe Correctional Complex in Washington. The following are short excerpts from the eighth essay, “About Education” and reflect on the power of literature to touch the lives of offenders. 


My favorite is a small book entitled One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich–the story of a day in the life of a prisoner in the Soviet Union. I love that book, not only because it reflects the strength and perseverance of the human spirit in the face of seeming hopelessness but, because it could have only been written by a prisoner…only a prisoner can know of so many of the things he wrote.In fact the book startled me when I read it because I knew it was written about prisoners in another country, during a different time, under different circumstances, yet I felt as if I was reading about prisoners and guards I know, what goes on here, and what goes through many of our minds while we’re experiencing it. There were so many parallels, I couldn’t help but feel close to them. Of course, I am conscious that Ivan and many of those in prison around him were political prisoners, and I am those around me are criminals, but there is still a connection…and that connection is that we are human beings.  




Maybe I am deluding myself, but I have always felt that Mr. Solzhenitsyn would be able to relate to what is going on here with many prisoners…feel as close to us as I have always felt to him. Getting a sentence of Life without Parole when you are young is hopelessness. Continuing on after that, learning to survive in an American prison and proceed forward as decades stack one atop another, and you have long since forgotten what is on the other side of these walls, is perseverance of human spirit.


Mr. Solzhenitsyn’s writing inspired me as a young prisoner to continue my efforts to educate myself and, eventually, led me to write a book modeled after his One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. It’s a manuscript that is passed from convict to convict; the story of one day in the life of a prisoner inside the prison in which I grew into adulthood and have spent most of my life–the prison in Walla Walla. When officials there discovered a copy and read it, they threw me in the hole and revoked my medium-custody classification. But the manuscript still makes it rounds. Prisoners read it because it puts words to what they are unable to, relates the truth about prison, and what it does to those who are in it. I have always felt that Mr. Solzhenitsyn is as responsible for the existence of this convict manuscript as I am.


To purchase a copy of The Prison Diary of Arthur Longworth #299180 (for $7), contact editor Leonard J. Cirino at cirino7715(at)


8 thoughts on “The Prison Diary of Arthur Longworth #299180

  1. I have often wondered how books like Solzhenitsyn’s would work in our CLTL sessions. I use NIGHT (Wiesel) sometimes with good results. I know others use similar books. What do you think it means to be reading these books as part of ” an alternative sentencing program” rather than locked in a prison cell –or even worse?

  2. Bob,

    Some of our CLTL students have been in prison and some have not. For those in both groups I imagine a diary like this one by Arthur Longworth would reinforce what they already know and serve as yet another warning not to risk being imprisoned. But obviously this book is not just meant to warn but to serve as a testament to the human spirit against great odds. And many of our students, though not actually in prison, lead lives almost equally confined by circumstance — race, poverty, lack of education, etc. This diary shows that no matter how small your physical world, with will and a strong spirit, you can expand that and, in the end, perhaps lead a larger life than some of us on the “outside.”

  3. How remarkable that Arthur Longworth’s experience so paralleled Solzeniztsyn’s! His memoir, The Oak and the Calf, shows the restrictions and reprisals heaped on a writer living under an oppressive government’s sentence. Thank goodness the prisoners in Walla Walla, like the fellow writers in the Soviet Union, passed the manuscript on.

  4. 1.The diary of Anne Frank has been described as a living tribute to the
    strength of the human spirit to rise above tremendous adversity and
    hardship. Write an essay at least three paragraphs long explaining how
    the play reflects this theme. Give examples from the play to support your
    2. Write an essay at least three paragraphs long explaining which
    character you admired most and why. Give at least two examples from the
    play to support your essay.

  5. Pingback: The Solitary Life: Chilean Miners, Spacemen in Moscow and 20,000 American Prisoners « Prison Photography

  6. Pingback: “There is so little solidity in prison, so little to depend on, that a picture like this is a treasure.” | Prison Photography

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