Notes on a Prison Wall

Notes on a Prison Wall, by Nicholas Catanoy

Notes on a Prison Wall

by Nicholas Catanoy


  • Autumn 1994
  • ISBN 978-0-921870-26-5 (0-921870-26-4)
  • 6″ x 9″ Trade Paperback, 104 pages
  • Poetry

In these poems, Nicholas Catanoy recreates the diary that he kept as a young cadet in Romania when he was imprisoned by the invading Russians. Taken out three times to be executed, Catanoy was one of the few from among the 200 prisoners to survive the random executions. After being released, Catanoy recreated in this memoir the impact of being a prisoner of the 20th-century’s various ‘isms.

The text comprises two different voices, and is filled with found-poetry quotations and the poet’s own aphoristic reflections. Catanoy breaks down the old generic categories; he asks us to read backwards as well as forwards — to find that humanity lies in the fissures of present-day society. As Catanoy himself admits, there is no dignity in what he experienced in prison. And yet Notes on a Prison Wall dignifies the human spirit.

“Your wit, acidic bite and delicious irony are a pleasure. A rare, rare pleasure.”
— Irving Layton