Guest Star: "I Remember Sitting In A Solitary Confinement Cell At South Port Correctional Facility"

Thursday, Oct 14, 2010 1:25PM

Written by Frank C. Matthews for SOHH

[Respect The Jux author Frank C. Matthews reveals how he went from being a convicted drug dealer serving jail time to a leading urban-genre author from behind bars.]

I remember sitting in a cell on solitary confinement at [Pine City, New York's] South Port Correctional Facility, listening for the jingle of the officer's keys. Unable to see left or right of the catwalk, I depended on my ears like a man with sight in a pit of darkness. The clock ticked slower and the days contained more hours than usual. In what could be describe as a natural state of being, I depended on my senses to survive. Needless to say my senses never let myself down, because there from afar the keys clanked and clacked against one another as the officer entered the cellblock.

Along with the jingling of his keys was the sound of the squeaky wheels of the book cart. I quickly grabbed the two books sitting on the small gray metal desk attached to the wall and stood by my cell door. Today I would be allowed to exchange the two books for new ones. Along with that, I would also receive five stamped envelopes and blank sheets of paper.

I waited patiently as the officer walked down the gallery; stopping at every cell, asking the prisoners "Do you want a book to read?" This went on until he finally reached my cell. "Do you want a book to read?" he asked me. I didn't bother to answer but stuck out the two books to be exchanged. He took the books and then stepped to the side allowing me to see what was on the cart. I looked through the bars from title to title not knowing which book I wanted to read for the second or the third time. "Man, you don't have nothing new?" I asked frustrated. "These are the same old books, and I've read them all already." I complained. "That's all we got, so pick two or I'm moving on." He spat back. "Just give me two of whatever." I responded. The officer randomly took two books off the cart and put them into the slot of my cell. One was a book written by Donald Goines and the other was by William Johnstone. Needless to say I've read both of them twice.

I threw the books on my bunk, and walked over to the stainless steel sink and toilet combination and looked into the polished metal plate screwed above it. Looking back at me was a distorted reflection of my face. I did this often or when ever I felt the need to see a familiar human face.

"Yo Frank, what books did you get?" Sean asked from his cell which was next to mine. "Same sh** I've already read." I responded. "I got the same story here." He told me. "This is crazy, I've read these books so many times I can write my own." I said to him but not really meaning it. However men will be men and Sean challenged me when he responded, "So why don't you write your own book then?" "What you think, I can't write my own book?" I shot back. "So get to writing then." He said and laughed.

After our friendly argument was settled and the ego bet was made, I sat on the edge of my bunk thinking 'this will be a hard one to pull off'. Determined to prove Sean wrong, I reached forward and picked up my pencil and the writing pad. I told myself, I'm to write a book. That day was the beginning of my journey and transition from Frank C. Matthews the hustler to Frank C. Matthews the author...and four months later I had a complete book. I passed it over to Sean to read and make him swallow his words. He loved it and said I should continue to write more books. He asked, "Yo, what's the title?"

I didn't think about giving the book a title so I had to think for a few seconds before telling him the title is "Respect the Jux.".......

Matthews published Respect the Jux and it caught fire, selling over 20,000 thousand copies. The book catapulted Matthews into a sphere typically reserved for seasoned literary greats, while capturing the attention of everyone from rappers Jay-Z, Ghostface Killah, and 50 Cent (who rapped on Lloyd Banks's single, "Hands up, if you want to party with crooks you have to learn to Respect the Jux!") to literary powerhouses like bestselling author and publisher Karen Hunter.

To purchase the book, just click here.

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