You Must Change Your Life — With Mitchell S. Jackson

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“I remember them finding the drugs and holding them up in the sky. And I was like, 'Oh man, I’m going to prison.'” This week’s guest, the writer Mitchell S. Jackson, started selling drugs when he was 14 years old, then went to prison for drug possession years later. When his mother tried to buy drugs from him, he knew he couldn’t run away from his bad decisions. “There was no way for me to escape what I was doing,” he tells Cheryl and Steve in this episode. “I knew what I was doing was wrong.”

When Jackson got out of prison, he made some audacious moves to change his life. On this episode, he joins the Sugars in answering letter writers who feel stuck and aimless. One writes: “Here we are two abortions, two failed college attempts, a list of dead end jobs later, I’m stuck in a job I despise and I go home to a relationship I don’t want. How do I kick this rut that seems to be my life?”

Mitchell S. Jackson is a Clinical Associate Professor of Writing at New York University and the author of The Residue Years. His new book, “Survival Math,” will be released in August 2018.

Writings Mentioned in this Episode

“The Rotters’ Club,” by Jonathan Coe

“The Bell Jar,” by Sylvia Plath

“Towelhead,” by Alicia Erian

“Go Tell it on the Mountain,” by James Baldwin

“The Basketball Diaries,” by Jim Carroll

“This Boy’s Life: A Memoir,” by Tobias Wolff

New episodes of Dear Sugars are released weekly. Do you have a question for the Sugars? Email

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Amory Sivertson Host and Senior Producer, Podcasts
Amory Sivertson is a senior producer for podcasts and the co-host of Endless Thread.



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