Jarvis Jay Masters New Book: That Bird Has My Wings Jarvis Jay Masters is a spiritual man. His days are spent meditating, reflecting on his past mistakes and his hopes for the future. But instead of visiting a temple or a church, his religious practice takes place within a 4’ x 9’ prison cell on San Quentin’s death row.
Masters’ true story—painful, poignant, uplifting, and, at times, funny—is movingly told in That Bird Has My Wings (HarperOne; October 2009; Hardcover; $24.99; ISBN 9780061730450), which Barnes & Noble has selected for their Fall 2009 “Discover Great New Writers” program. Taking readers from the arms of his heroin-addicted mother to an abusive foster home, from boy’s homes and bus shelters to the walls of San Quentin, he reveals how a bright boy turns to a life of crime, and how a penitent man renews his faith and finds hope amidst a hopeless situation.
Using a ballpoint pen filler, the only writing instrument available to him, Masters has written a haunting, powerful memoir that he hopes will lead to real change. Intended to serve as a cautionary tale for the abused and abandoned children in danger of following his path from foster homes to juvenile centers to prison, That Bird Has My Wings is also meant to inspire those government officials and social service professionals who are truly in a position to fix our broken system.
Jarvis Jay Masters spent years in foster care before he was sent to various juvenile detention facilities and, ultimately, San Quentin. While serving a sentence for armed robbery he was implicated in the death of a prison guard, and though he takes full responsibility for his past actions, Masters maintains his innocence in regards to the murder that landed him on death row. A growing movement of people are actively working within the legal system to free him, and the California State Supreme Court is currently investigating evidence that points to his innocence. While he awaits appeal, Masters has written numerous critically-acclaimed articles as well as the book Finding Freedom. In 1992 he won a PEN Award for his poem “Recipe for Prison Pruno.”