|Shaquille Payne, 20, does homework in his new apartment|
The casual onlooker would have thought we were discussing the weather. Or maybe I’d asked him how his third year of college was going. Instead, Shaquille Payne was detailing a childhood in which he’d been left to raise himself as his family served time behind bars.
As he awaited his mother’s release, Payne lived with his aunt. He said the living situation caused immediate issues.
|An example of Payne's poetry as a release|
By middle school he’d begun to work harder at self-control. And by high school he’d completely mastered it. So much so, that as we spoke I couldn’t imagine the man sitting across from me living a childhood so difficult. He exhibited such control: never jittery despite the long interview; never emotional despite the hard subject; and never breaking from his calm voice, which at times soothed me as I listened.