up Issue 26 Autumn 2014
Distributed free of charge to secure establishments and care teams around the UK
Chris Wilson’s RUIN Joe Dolce I was never crazy David Rickerby’s Bloody Fields A Man Standing in London Piers Barber in the Digital Age
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Koestler Southbank Exhibition 2014 Catching Dreams
very year, our Koestler issue showcases creative work from the Koestler Trust’s annual autumn exhibition of art by prisoners, offenders on community sentences, secure psychiatric patients and immigration detainees at the Southbank Centre, London. Entitled “Catching Dreams”, this year’s exhibition celebrates the Trust’s Scholarships Mentoring Programme and has been curated by ex-prisoners who have completed the programme. This matches them up with artist experts, helping shape and direct their creative ambition by meeting regularly through a 12 month programme. All curators have received Koestler Awards in the past and, following on from last year, the Koestler Trust has recruited ex-prisoners to welcome visitors, allowing them to hear first-hand accounts of how the arts reflect and enrich the lives of people in secure and criminal justice settings. So, how does this year’s selection reflect the concerns of the curating team? All those involved have found and developed a creative vocation in custody. Their experience of this and of the encouragement and recognition from the Koestler Award Scheme gives this year’s exhibition a decidedly in-house, expert feel. Figurative work predominates, much of it displaying hard-won technical skills. This year sees noticeably more prints,
Woman And Dog On The Couch, Debora-Maria, HMP Bronzefield, The Robin and Margaret Weiss Gold Award for Sculpture
partly due to the recently introduced Printmaking art form category. Classic prison-style art is much less in evidence, reduced to a minor genre rather than the edgily defining images promoted by some previous curators. There’s less ‘outsider’ art too, though the resourceful, patient ingenuity of craft made in confinement is well represented. This is an imaginative and optimistic selection, and the curating team must be congratulated on an excellent job. Matthew Meadows, Art Editor FRONT COVER IMAGE Dead Trees, Anon., HMP Hull, Drawing Dreams of Chagall, Paul, Calderstones Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, Space Station Sixty-Five Silver Award for Theme: Dreams River, Anon., HMP Grendon, Ed King Silver Award for Portraits
Matthew Meadows Meet our Art Editor
I’ve been working in the criminal justice system for ten years, mostly in prisons. After a stint as a Koestler judge, the Koestler Trust commissioned me to research and write Insider Art, a book about art in the UK’s criminal justice system, published in 2010. More recently, I’ve been organising oneperson exhibitions for prison artists – all part of finding wider audiences for the masses of locked-up talent – and unlocking it. I work as an artist too, doing lots of drawing and printing strange political wallpaper…
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WHAT IS INSIDE? 2 Introduction, Matthew Meadows, Art Editor 3 Introduction, Marek Kazmierski, Managing Editor 4 Joe Dolce, interview 5 The Spirit World of Athens, Ohio by Joe Dolce 8 The Whale by Chris Wilson 10 Fiction by Mark Diston 12 Poetry Workout, Anna Robinson, Poetry Editor Chris Wilson by Agata Cardoso
10 years of art and writing by the unfree Hello and welcome to another colourful edition of Not Shut Up, the national quarterly magazine devoted to visual and literary arts from those who are or have been behind bars. Our autumn issue is as ever devoted to awardwinning entries from the Koestler Southbank Centre exhibition, which also includes an installation by visual artist Janetka Platun, showcasing poetry and prose submitted to the Koestler Awards. You will notice a strong autobiographical theme to the writing in this issue – perhaps the cuts to education and arts provision is eroding the amount of creative fiction being produced behind bars? Is the extra pressure our artists are under making them reflect upon their lives more? Through our Academy programme, we are working ever more closely with our writer members, giving them support, editing skills, career development and networking opportunities. As autumn nears, we are developing plans for publishing books, which start with Chris Wilson’s RUIN. Chris is not only a tremendously talented writer, his visual arts are world class too. As always, you can find out more about what we do via our website, or by writing to us. We are keen to hear from you all out there, artists or organisations, so do drop us a line if you want to be featured in our pages.
13 Koestler Award-winning poetry 16 Romeo and Roulette - A love story by S. Churchill 18 Koestler Award-winning fiction 20 The Digital Age, by Piers Barber, Online Editor 21 English PEN, creative writing feature 22 From A to B to CID, by Dean Stalham 24 Kenning poems from HMP Wandsworth 26 Koestler Exhibition introduction by Fiona Curran 27 Koestler Southbank exhibition gallery 31 Jail Journals competition 32 David Rickerby interview 34 Bloody Fields by David Rickerby 36 Koestler Award-winning reviews 38 Koestler Award-winning play 40 Koestler Award-winning poems 42 Poetry by Joe Dolce 44 Koestler Award-winning life writing 46 Arts Roundup, by Lucy Edkins and Eve McDougall 48 DrugFAM Gallery 49 Folklore of Fire by Cliff Hughes 50 A Man Standing by Jean Marc Mahy 52 Art organisations worth knowing about 53 About Not Shut Up 54 Preparing for the Big Day, by Cliff Hughes
Marek Kazmierski / Managing Editor
55 Chris Wilson’s RUIN Award winning images courtesy of the Koestler Trust
Marek escaped communist Poland as a child and settled in the UK. He is a former prison tutor, creative writing facilitator and most recently Head of Diversity at HMP Feltham. He is also a writer, translator, publisher and visual artist. When not at his computer typing, he keeps sane riding very old, very loud motorcycles.
Not Shut Up is a registered charity (Charity No. 1090610) and a company limited by guarantee (registered in London No. 4260355). Anyone interested in submitting work, volunteering or working as part of the Not Shut Up Academy, which works with in- and post-custody writers on developing their professional skills, is invited to write in to us or contact us via our website.
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Not Shut Up Interview
I was never crazy Joe Dolce, born 1947 in Painesville, Ohio, is an American-born, Australian singer/songwriter, poet and essayist who achieved international recognition with his multi-million-selling song, “Shaddap You Face”, released in 1980. In 1978, Dolce relocated to Melbourne, Australia, where his first single was “Boat People” – a protest song on the poor treatment of refugees – which was translated into Vietnamese and donated to the fledgling Vietnamese community starting to form in Melbourne. In the past decade, he has also been receiving extensive recognition as a poet and essayist. Here he recounts his experiences of being locked up in a mental health institution when a young man growing up in the USA.
Not Shut Up: You were born in the USA, but what made you
move to Australia? Joe Dolce: I met and married an Australian dancer in Berkeley, California. We had two kids there. I was finding it impossible to break through in music, so we decided to try our luck in Australia. Her family was there as well. But success came out of failure. Our marriage broke up within a year, yet six months later I had a Number 1 hit.
NSUP: Most of our readers will remember you from your
worldwide smash “Shaddap You Face”, can you tell us something about how you started out in music? JD: The first record that turned a serious switch for me was ‘She Loves You’ by The Beatles in the mid-Sixties. I then fell in love with a college sophomore two years older than me who sang songs to me in French. In my first year at college, I learned electric guitar and was part of the most popular psychedelic band at Ohio University, The Headstone Circus. The ball was rolling then.
NSUP: Has success been everything you’ve dreamed of, or does it have downsides? JD: There is no absolute ‘success’ in all endeavours. Success only comes in specific areas and at specific times. And even that changes depending on fortune, luck and destiny. Success in music for me came out of failure in marriage. Success in a relationship (now going on 34 years) has come out of an utter retreat from commercial music, but which also happily and unexpectedly led to success in writing and publishing poetry. The wheel will continue to spin. Success is also measured differently by different people. One person’s idea of success can be another’s idea of failure.
NSUP: Did your experience of spending time in a mental asylum change you at all?
JD: Yes. Once in there, I realised that they had the power to keep
me in for a long time, if they had wanted to. Institutions can be scary. I don’t recommend them. But then again, talking on a regular basis with a shrink was valuable. I think I began to ask myself questions about what I really wanted to do. Did I really want to be an architect, or was that my father’s goal for me? It probably helped me make the decision to drop out of college and commit to music. After all, I was already committed, so to speak. Haha!
NSUP: Your poems tell tales of people from various parts of the
world who have had to struggle with slavery and imprisonment - is the subject of freedom something close to your heart? JD: Freedom used to be an almost absolute ideal for me. As I have matured, I have come to see that there can be no real freedom without an obligation to do without it when necessary, to make sacrifices of personal freedom for the freedom of the group and, vice-versa as an artist, to respect that freedom for everyone all the time and permanently is impossible. Like Freedom of Speech, in a culturally stacked deck of the privileged and unprivileged, the idea of Fairness of Speech must have some consideration. Like a handicap in golf. Not all players have equal skills and training. What is free and fair for one person may be unfair for another. Common sense and fair play, empathy and kindness are qualifiers for freedom as well. There will never be an absolute freedom where everyone is measured by the same rules, even in law, which also changes from country to country and from one year to the next.
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The Spirit World of Athens, Ohio by Joe Dolce The Thorazine Shuffle – term used to describe the way patients walked after administration of the 60s psychotropic drug.
The farmer tied me to a tree in his front yard with a heavy rope. As I regained consciousness, I still couldn’t see anything, but I did hear his voice. “Do you want me to call the Sheriff?” “Yes,” I said in uncomprehending desperation. “Call the Sheriff.” Anything was better than nothing. I had no idea who I was or where I was. The last thing I remembered before passing out was lying in the centre of the highway totally naked, with a full beard and long hair to my shoulders, hearing some local yahoos yelling out of their pickup truck, “Run the hippy bastard over!” It was 1972 and I was just outside the Athens, Ohio border line, in the township of Pomeroy County. In the 1800s, the British Psychical Society named Athens one of the most haunted spots in the world. An old world self-educated hillbilly named Jonathan Koons, a spiritualist, said that he had been commanded to build a spirit room and held séances at the foot of Mt Nebo. This college town lies in the southeast quadrant of the state, close to the West Virginia border near the Ohio River. I had attended Ohio University in the late 60s to study architecture. It was my first time living away from Painesville, 236 miles to the North. The roommate whom I shared dormitory space with had an electric
guitar and a small amplifier next to his bed. Although I couldn’t play the guitar, he would let me fool around with it now and then. The deep reverberation and echo effect mesmerized me for hours. Gradually, I learned to play chords and then solos and within a year I was one of the two lead guitarists in the most popular rockpop band on the college campus, The Headstone Circus, which led to my abandoning architecture, dropping out of university and becoming a full-time musician. Everyone hoped for another Haight Ashbury-style free love and psychedelic music explosion, which had produced bands such as The Grateful Dead and The Jefferson Airplane, but the wheels fell off the movement and about a year later we broke up the band. However, I never forgot the memorable, almost mystical experiences and endearing warmth of my years back in Athens and, in 1972, I decided to move back there alone. It was then I had that unfortunate run-in with that farmer and eventually the local sheriff. I was living in a remote country house with some friends. We decided to drop some LSD out in the countryside. I went off for a stroll by myself, which was when the acid came on like a commuter train. I got utterly scared and began running, trying to find my way back to my friends, only to get myself even more lost. Peaking on the psychedelic, I heard a loud booming voice that I thought was God speaking out of kaleidoscopic, swirling cloud formations, saying, “You are not the Creator. I created you!” I got into a heated argument with this voice, saying that I was my own creator. Suddenly, the sun vanished, the clouds went black and for some reason I felt compelled to take off all my clothes and lay down on the ground in the foetal position. Terrified, screaming “Help me!” up into the clouds, I heard the voice thunder again, “Walk down to the road and go to the farmhouse!”
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Not Shut Up Interview
The entire countryside had now been transformed into an alien landscape. Trees were liquid shapes. I saw a remote building in the distance. Stark naked, I made my way across the road and to the front door. I knocked. A farmer hesitantly opened and barked at me, “Get down to the damn road! You can find some help down there,” and slammed it in my face. I staggered away and tried to hitchhike, but the few cars that passed would speed up as soon as they saw a long-haired, naked hippy. Finally, I went back to the house. The door was now locked so I walked around the side, found an open window and climbed in. I saw a couch, lay down on it and tried to go to sleep. Suddenly, the farmer was standing over me with a double-barrelled shotgun, pointing it at my head, telling me to get out of his house. I tried reasoning with him. I don’t remember the rest. Everything went black. When I came to, I was tied to the tree. The Pomeroy sheriff and a deputy arrived in a patrol car, put me in handcuffs and drove me down to the Pomeroy Jail. The sheriff gave me a large pair of white boxer shorts to wear, fingerprinted me and asked if he could take a photo of me with his wife and kids. I thought “Why not?” and then got thrown in the jail’s common holding cell with five other prisoners. After the steel door slammed shut, I turned around and faced my fellow cellmates. One of the meaner looking good ol’ boys smirked as he disappeared into his bunk, “Better keep him away from me before I fuck him.” Everyone laughed. Except me. Four days later, I made bail, though I wasn’t formally charged with anything, freed in a back-room deal between my local defence attorney and the prosecutor, on the proviso I left the county and didn’t return for a year. Twenty years later, I connected this story to Athens’ spooky history. Now, ghost stories around Southern Ohio are legion. In the 1970s, over a period of eight years, animals in nearby Hocking County were mutilated, left to die with their heads and genitals cut off. These became known as the Hocking Hill Murders. Cult rituals were suspected and the cases remained unsolved. The land around Mt Nebo, where Jonathan Koons held his séances in the 1800s, was purchased by Dr James Eldridge, a professor of Art at Ohio University. Later, he legally changed his name to Æthelred Eldridge and professed to be the reincarnation of William Blake. Yet, when I arrived to study architecture in Athens in 1966, Eldridge was head of the School of Art department. He had his own curriculum and the university let him do whatever he wanted. Most of the old ghost stories centre around the university buildings and The Athens Mental Health Centre, known in earlier years at various times as The Athens Asylum for the Insane, The Athens Lunatic Asylum, and more recently, The Ridges – a state operated facility for the criminally insane. The Athens Asylum for the Insane first opened its doors in 1874 to handle the large number of American Civil War veterans suffering from battle fatigue insanity – what is now known as PTSD – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder*. During one severe budget cut, the facility was temporarily closed down with many of
the former inmates let loose, often to disappear into the landscape. The most famous ghost in this institution was named ‘Marge’, who had escaped from her room and her remains discovered later in the attic where she had starved to death. Her outline can still be seen on the floor and it’s said no amount of cleaning will remove it. The less disturbed patients were housed near the centre of the institution close to the administrative office. Socialising with other patients was encouraged. This was the area where my dorm room was. That’s right. Stay with me now - it gets even better! In the late 60s, during the Vietnam War, the draft was grabbing students from the college, but none of the members of my band wanted to die in the service of Uncle Sam just yet. Firstly, we were all against the war, but mainly we wanted to play music, not go into battle. None of us had the armed services mentality, except for our six-foot-tall lead singer who had previously attended a military school. But he too was now rebelling against his strict upbringing. Different band members tried different strategies to outwit the draft board, who were responsible for deciding whether we were fit for duty. One singer, who had asthma, stomped around in a dusty attic for an hour before going for his appointment, so that his symptoms were extreme and exaggerated. Another member put his fist through a glass bookshelf in the room of the examining Sergeant, resulting in the soldier knocking him out with his oldfashioned black desk telephone receiver. When he came to in the hospital, he had failed on an unrelated issue: a weak kidney. My solution, upon an informal suggestion from an Ohio University psychiatry professor, who was also against the Vietnam War, was for me to voluntarily admit myself to the Athens Mental Hospital for a 30-day observation period. When I got out, this would show up on my medical records and I should be automatically disqualified. So, one afternoon, I walked up the long hospital driveway and told the admission nurse that I was suicidal and wanted to sign myself in. She said that I would have to see a doctor the next morning, but I could spend the night there, in a padded cell – the first night procedure for all new admissions. I felt like objecting: What? No straight jacket? What kind of insane asylum is this? My first night accommodation was a 5ft by 5ft hole, with a single mattress bed and six inches of thick padding on the walls and floor. The next morning, I had a meeting with the hospital doctor who agreed to accept me in as a voluntary admission. My key complaint was that I was deeply depressed and liked taking sleeping pills and taking a nap on the railroad tracks outside the house where the band rehearsed. Which was almost a lie. I never took sleeping pills in my life, but I did occasionally lay my head on the tracks when I was stoned on marijuana to hear the trains coming from far off. Over the next month, the doctor and I had many chats. In our final session, right before I was discharged, he confided in me, “You know, Mr. Dolce, sometimes I think you are putting this all on – and sometimes I think you are seriously ill.” I think that statement scared me more than anything, as I had never considered they might not let me out.
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In our final session, right before I was discharged, he confided in me, “You know, Mr. Dolce, sometimes I think you are putting this all on – and sometimes I think you are seriously ill.”
At my army draft examination, I was rejected for having had a history of mental illness, so I guess the risk was worth it. But returning once more to Athens, every building on the Ohio University campus has its own ghost story, probably related to the myths and prejudices we create around psychiatric patients. Brown Hall, housing the Contemporary History Institute, was donated by Millie Brown, whose granddaughter dated Paul Newman when he was a student there. They say the ghost of Ms Brown can sometimes be seen in an upper floor window overlooking the swimming pool to the sounds of invisible splashing children. Jefferson Hall has a transparent 1950s schoolteacher who floats about her old desk and the ‘marble sound’ – a rain of hundreds of marbles being dropped onto the floor above. Washington Hall has an entire ghostly girls basketball team that was killed in a bus crash visiting nightly. Shively Hall is haunted by the spirit of a female student who participated in cult ceremonies at the nearby Hanning Cemetery. Voight Hall has a woman dressed in a dark long sleeved dress who resembles Suffragette Susan B. Anthony. Crawford Hall has the ghost of Laura, a girl who fell from her fourth floor window (CD players in the room are said to refuse to play the Bob Marley song “Laura”). Wilson Hall sits dead centre in a pentagram formed by the five cemeteries around Athens: Simms, Cuckler, Higgins, Zion and Henning (Simms Cemetery also has a rock cliff from which an old hanging tree protrudes, rope scars still visible on its branches). The Convo Centre has the ghost of a student who died in her sleep and later came to possess another student who slept in the same bed. The College Green is said to have been built on a Native American Burial Ground and is haunted by Stroud, a headless buffalo, killed by Confederate soldiers during the Civil War. I never personally saw or heard any ghosts during my brief stay at the Athens Mental Hospital, but it certainly was a strange enclave with a lot of seriously crazy rednecks running around. I knew patients who had secret romances – they would meet in the tunnels under some of the buildings and have sex. I played ping-pong regularly with a guy with three first names who looked like he was on the verge of an internal combustion explosion every time he lost. Often, the long-term patients would carve private messages on the sandstone windowsills outside the bars. One memorable carving that’s still visible today proclaims: I was never crazy.
* It is estimated that the number of former service personnel in UK prisons is nearly three times higher than official government figures. As many as one in ten prisoners are military veterans, as opposed to the 3.4 per cent official Ministry of Defence figure, according to the criminal justice campaign group No Offence.
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Not Shut Up Academy
by Chris Wilson Chris Wilson was born in 1961 in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and grew up in Dar es Salaam, East Africa. He moved with his parents to California in 1971. After many years of living in the streets and prisons of the USA, he was extradited to the UK in 1998. Since becoming drug and crime free in 2001, he has studied at the Chelsea College of Art and Design, where he was awarded First with Distinction. His work has been shown in galleries in London and the South East of England. He lives in London with his dog, and divides his working life between his job as a project worker with the homeless and various creative endeavours. Glue Ponys is a collection of short stories from his experiences of life in the US. Chris was recently signed by a literary agent, who is helping him prepare the book for publication. Here is one of the stories taken from it...
urvis Johnson was old, he was older than he ever thought he was going to get to be, and no matter what kind of pills he took or how many times the nurses changed the bandages on his ulcerated legs he knew his day was coming. In the evenings, after dinner, when they pushed him outside for a ciggerrett and a cup of black coffee, he liked to sit still beside a tree on the far end of the hospital parking lot and watch the people coming and going. They came in cars or got off buses at the stop down the way and walked on up to the automatic glass doors of the hospital entrance, pausing sometimes to take a last hit on their ciggerretes before going inside. Or they came in ambulances, flying up to the emergency entrance on the right of the building, rolled out on gurneys with tubes running up from their arms into
plastic bags full of blood and saline and god knows what else that sat in metal frames that rode on top of wheels that got pushed alongside them by medics or nurses, all these gun shots, car wrecks, overdoses, attempted suicides, heart attacks, food poisonings, cerebral haemorrhages, stabbings, perforated bowels, kidney failures, advanced cirrhosis of livers... My my, thought Purvis, there sure are a lot of ways for a man to die, and the thing was no matter how long he sat out there he never saw the dead ones come back out. No, he thought, they sure don’t come out this way, they must take ‘em out by the back, there must be some alley that’s locked up and private with CCTV cameras and high security so nobody can see. I guess they figure that people would get upset if they saw all those dead bodies, so they’re trying to protect and keep ‘em happy and Purvis
got another ciggerret out from the pack in his pyjama shirt pocket and put it between his thin lips and lit it with his lighter. He had to concentrate, because his hand was shaking like a leaf in a spring wind, but he managed like he always did when he wanted something bad enough. I love tobacco, thought Purvis as he blew the smoke out of his mouth in a velvet blanket that hung for a moment over his old head, before drifting up to join the clouds making their way across the evening sky. I love tobacco and I love strong black coffee and I love a big girl with strong legs and crazy blue eyes and I love boxing and Hank Williams songs when they’re sung right by someone with heart and I love the feeling you get when you’re let out of jail and I love swimming in the ocean when you’re a kid and the way it feels when a big wave crashes down on you and you’re caught underneath
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Artwork by Chris Wilson
getting tossed and turned and you don’t know which way is up or down until you relax and just go with it and let it carry you along and the next thing you know is your head pops up and you take in a big breath of god’s clean air, and Purvis smiled for a bit, then he took another hit on his ciggerrett and thought about the whale. It had been laying on the warm sand of Jones Beach, just down from the cliffs on the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge, about twenty foot long and its tail was flapping in the water, still trying to push itself further up the sand. It would stop for a bit and then it would start again, like it had someplace really important that it had to get to and they’d climbed down the cliff, him and his girl, and they’d walked up and down around the whale and he’d said what the hell are you doing Mr Whale? and his girl had started crying and said Purvis do
something he’s trying to kill himself and Purvis had said what am I supposed to do and his girl had said I don’t know let’s try and push him back out into the water and they’d bent down and pushed as hard as they could and he’d swam out a bit and got hold of the whale’s tail, but it was no good, he was too damn big and heavy, so they just gave up and sat on the sand by his head and Purvis had looked him in his eye and swore to god the whale was telling him something with his eye, but for the life of him he couldn’t figure out what it might be and then his girl had put her hand on the whale’s head and said it’s alright Purvis he wants to die and that’s what he’s gonna do, so they just sat back down and tried to stroke him and talk to him and his girl had started singing songs to him and telling him nursery rhymes and when it got dark it seemed like finally it was over because
his eye stopped talking, but they didn’t leave, they just sat there until the next morning and watched the sun come up and the gulls started landing on the beach and walking over to the whale, and he chased them away, but they just hopped back over again and his girl had put her arm through his and said come on Purvis we got to go and they’d climbed back up the cliff and when they got to the top they looked back down to the beach and saw the gulls up on the back of the whale trying to cut thru his skin and pecking his eyes and just down the beach they seen a small coyote working its way in zig zags up the sand and heading for the whale and his girl had said no Purvis I don’t want to see this please let’s go and he had nodded his head and took her hand and they turned and walked up the small dirt road that led back to the freeway. That night, as he lay in his bed on the ward listening to all the heart monitors beeping and the oxygen tanks hissing and the ventilators rising and falling and rising and falling, Purvis reached over and opened the top drawer of his bedside table and took out a folded up napkin and opened it up on his stomach. He’d been saving up his pills, there was a whole bunch of them that’s gotta be enough thought Purvis, but then he saw how he would just be another one to go out the back where nobody could see and he shook his head and put the pills back in the drawer and thought to himself, tomorrow morning I’m gonna get a taxi and go back to that beach and I’m gonna swim out in the ocean just as far as I can and then let go, I’m just gonna float and float and float until I can’t float no more then I’ll sink down to the bottom and lay my head on the sand and that will be that. But Purvis knew that really he could never get down those cliffs, he was just kidding himself, shit, he was an old man, he could barely make it to the bathroom without needing some help, and so then Purvis folded his hands back over his chest and closed his eyes, no harm in dreaming he whispered to himself and then he thought about how good that ciggerett and cup of black coffee was gonna taste in the morning.
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hat morning, when I awoke inside my cell, everything seemed the same, yet felt so very different. The air tasted slightly fresher, the light had a pristine purity. “Good morning ladies, all wings unlocked for your morning regime.” The words from the tannoy were the same as usual, but the voice was totally different, as if it had been processed through a ring modulator. It possessed an almost Dalek-like quality. I got up and dressed rapidly, hoping to beat the rush to the hot water dispenser. I heard the rustling of a chain outside my door, then the familiar sound of a key turning inside the lock. The heavy steel door swung open, presenting me with a two metre tall cockroach: “Good morning, Diston. I am Officer Gregor Samsa of the twenty-second century community prison... welcome back.” Well, not being the prejudiced kind, and having been a keen imbiber of hallucinogens in my youth, I managed to maintain some semblance of composure while answering the bug, “Oh yeah, so what happened to the fabulous Miss L, the Belle of B wing?” I enquired, missing the delightful experience of my favourite screw smiling sweetly through the observation flap. Mein host waved his antenna whimsically and replied, “Miss L is long dead, she expired under the overwhelming weight of the collective desire of a thousand frustrated inmates in 2025. She died in ecstasy and has since been canonized by the Pope. Miss L is still worshipped in our chapel as the patron saint of Walton.” I was glad to hear the gorgeous Miss L had been rewarded in the afterlife, but must have still seemed somewhat confused as Officer Samsa continued expounding, “You have been asleep a long time, Diston. The year is now 2112, many things have changed around here, everything will be explained at your re-induction.” My re-induction consisted mainly of
THE TIME CAPSULE by Mark Diston, HMP Liverpool a lesson in recent history. I was told that during the great recession of the early 21st century, prison became so popular as living standards outside plummeted, that drastic action was required. All behaviour was legalised and prison had become an elite gated community. Conditions were so conducive that cockroaches evolved to the point where they were able to overthrow the prison authorities. To save money, prisoners were placed in suspended animation, to be revived when economic conditions improved. The repealing of all laws and Darwin’s Theory of Natural Selection had conspired with human nature to the point where our race had virtually eradicated itself. The cockroaches had taken over HMP Liverpool as private contractors, undercutting the running costs by a substantial margin, keeping the inmates sedated and not wasting resources on such fripperies as rehabilitation. In fact, it seemed the outside world had deteriorated to the point of no return, a post-media hell of pro-celebrity executions, designer nudity, public intimations and Luddite machinations. I learned that my sentence had been completed, but there was no outside worth going back to. Next, I was taken to education induction where Officer Samsa addressed me apologetically,
“So, you see, things have changed while you have been away. Work here has been abolished, but the education department has improved exponentially. For instance, Drugs Awareness is now a practical rather than a theoretical course. The Prison Radio is no longer run by tone deaf jobsworths. These days, you choose your own playlist... of course, I wouldn’t insult a Nobel Prize winner with our creative writing course...” “The Nobel Prize for literature? Me? When? How?” I stuttered, both flattered and amazed. “Yes, in 2030, for your Confessions of a can’t be arsonist.” Well, I’m not one to rest on my laurels, Dear Reader, but when Officer Samsa offered me another 100 year stretch in the time capsule on a diet of designer drugs and the complete works of Conrad Schnitzler on a loop, I was sold. As I settled down in my comfy cell as the cocktail of mescaline and 2cb took hold, I couldn’t help thinking that the world had become a much more humane place. As the walls dissolved in multiform psychedelic swirls and bizarre electronica battered my deranged soul, I couldn’t wait to discover what the 23rd century community prison would be like...
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ith the current fashion for Cuisine Merde, we decided to dine at an exclusive new eatery in the salubrious surroundings of Liverpool 9 — HMP Liverpool B wing servery. You need to book early to avoid disappointment, as the establishment can get very busy at peak times. Each diner fills in a menu sheet and gets a table or “cell number” with their booking. Waiter service is unavailable; B wing relies on the quaint downmarket novelty of self-service. We made our booking via the magistrate’s court by committing a minor infringement of the statutes, and were then transported to the restaurant in our very own sweatbox. You have to admire the establishment for the attention to personal detail. After negotiating the extensive security which is designed to protect the exclusive clientele, we arrived just in time for the evening meal. After admiring the faux Dickensian décor, we were issued a plastic plate and cutlery and took our places in a queue with our fellow diners. I noticed a few premiership footballers and members of parliament in our elevated company. Poking my nose through the bars which separated us from the servery, I observed the maître d’ dipping some pork scratchings in, then sampling some of option one – The Halal curry... nice to see an infidel paying such attention to quality control. After a short wait, a waiter unlocked the gate and ushered us into the servery. “Diston 4-16,” I read from my booking slip and was offered a cornucopia of choices. The service was fast and friendly, the portions on the large side of meagre. I carried my meal through the decaying Victorian splendour of B wing, the architecture reminiscent of the grandiose mausoleum of some long dead fascist dictator. My cell was pure delight for any aesthetic foodie hoping to slum it a bit. It was decorated with topless pictures of third-rate celebs, affixed with toothpaste to the walls. The mummified corpses of roaches littered the floor like exhibits at a
My Family Circle, Dena, HMP Send, The Worshipful Company of Weavers Silver Award for Needlecraft
by Mark Diston, HMP Liverpool
museum, exuding an exquisite ambience of nausea. The experience lived up to all my expectations – the chips were pre-digested, the spring rolls were last spring’s. A word of warning – it is advisable to take your own beverages – when I asked the maître d’ for the wine list, he replied: “You havin’ a fookin’ laugh, la?” and proceeded to ignore me. Dessert is served in a novel fashion, a surprise ‘brekky pack’ in one of half a dozen alternative flavours. Mine was Coco Pops drizzled with UHT milk, which washed away the unpleasant aftertaste of the main course. The brekky pack also contains the makings of tea; you have to queue with fellow diners to obtain the hot water in which to infuse it. I took my place with my fellow punters and indulged in the time honoured tradition of cuisine merde, complaining about the food. By the time I
reached the head of the queue, the water was tepid; my tea had a head any Guinness would be proud of. I rinsed it down and moved towards the exit to ask for the bill, but to no avail – all exits were barred. When I asked a waiter how much my dining experience was going to cost, he muttered some nonsense about paying my debt to society and completing my sentence. “Never mind completing my sentence,” I replied. “How am I to complete my restaurant review?” The kind fellow returned me to my cell and gave me a wing letter so I was able to complete this very text. I can honestly say that dining at the B wing servery turned out to be more than I could possibly bargain for. Cuisine Merde is so much more than a temporary fad and, like the lingering stink it leaves behind in my cell, it’s definitely here to stay.
Representing prisons, mental health facilities, detention centres and other secure settings 11
NSUP26 P10-11 FINAL rev1 .indd 11
nce again, I was part of the judging panel for the individual poem category at this year’s Koestler Awards. My fellow judges were two newbies - Amy Key and Declan Ryan, both young poets. Amy’s first collection is called “Luxe” and was published by Salt last year, receiving great reviews. Declan is a Faber New Poet - which means he will be ‘one to watch’. As usual, we each had a large number of poems to read, and set about the task with enthusiasm. Published in the following pages is a sample of what we liked best. Some others will follow in our next issue. We have also published some poems that were winners in the Poetry Collections category, which was judged by Tim Dooley of Poetry London Magazine; Jack Underwood, another Faber Young Poet and Tricia Durbey, poet and dancer. The two Platinum collections they selected, “The Bereavement of Crows” and “Swathes of Magnolia”, are two of the best Koestler collections I have seen in a while. Exciting stuff! The featured poems “Halflight Crows” and “American Hero” are from those collections.
Photo by Brittany App
There are a variety of voices on show as well, and the winning poems had voices that were ‘true’. “I am” was one of these, a deceptively simple poem about a child in the voice of that child. Its tone allowed it to end with a sense of real sadness. This was achieved using words that could not have earned their place or weight any other way. Many of the winning entries in the individual poems were made interesting through their imaginative use of structure. “First Light” has a strong repeated form – considering light and temperature in three different spaces works well and is unusual for a Koestler entry. So too were “Silver Locket” and “Unconditional”,
both of which use a repeated structure to form their lines. “Unconditional” uses ‘You’, ‘I’, ‘She’ as first words to form each verse, enabling the writer to compare a single idea, such as trust or love, in different ways. There were a couple of prize winners who used forms – one traditional – a villanelle, called “Villanelle”, and a series of three short centos. A cento is a form that uses lines from other people’s poems. You would usually not base this on the work of only one poet as that might look like plagiarism, but the entry we have published (from Poetry Collections), all based on lines from Emily Dickinson poems, uses the material really well. Villanelle’s are popular things for poets to have a go at, although, to be honest, I’ve read more I didn’t like than liked. The secret of writing a good one, I would argue, is to choose something contemplative to write about that can bear all that repetition. So perhaps the form should suit a cell-block style meditation – perhaps a wall or sky image. Think about the two repeated lines: it’s a good idea if each of those lines is a stand-alone phrase so that it can easily fit more or less anywhere sense wise. Also, notice there is a rhyme pattern. Try to choose a sound for the end rhyme that is reasonably common to avoid making it sound ‘forced’. Elsewhere in the magazine are the results of some work on Kennings from HMP Wandsworth based on a previous workout exercise. So, there are a few things to look at and try your hand at: a villanelle, a cento, or some more kenning poems - it’s up to you. Above all, Happy Writing!
Anna Robinson, Poetry Editor
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Koestler Platinum Award-winning Poetry Collections
Swathes of Magnolia, Heather, HMP Bronzefield, Platinum Award for Poetry Collection
I imagined you collector of wounds standing in your kitchen Dreams of Chagall, Paul, Calderstones Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, Space Station Sixty-Five Silver Award for Theme: Dreams
overseer of the coffee-machine grinder, percolator, pourer sitting now, staring you thought of me raised your cup twice blinked angrily, sitting there
The Bereavement of Crows, Anon., Littlemore Hospital, Platinum Award for Poetry Collection
The sun shines like a sulphur pit; shines on the yin-yang bird fell demon - angel ascendant, like the grieving felon who must murder the past if he is to be absolved.
you mistook me for your enemy a psychiatrist, smug you got it wrong
Transfixed, I might be a scarecrow in my suit of sticks and she a dawn visitor perched, now on my shoulder, now on my head, driving her frail spikes into my fat, her parcel of warmth and down wraps my cheek - most unkind.
you mistook me then for you I was flattered I loved you you checked my arms for scarring there was none we were done.
Her eyeshine, like my cold brainâ€™s blood, undiminished; her wingstretch spanning Calvary like my imprisoned imagining and, yes, the Magpieâ€™s tail is a paintbrush dripping blue; my tale, too, ends in melancholy.
Representing prisons, mental health facilities, detention centres and other secure settings 13
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Koestler Platinum Award-winning Poems
Ian, HMP & YOI Parc, Platinum Award for Poem
I’d never been to Russia before, never stepped so far inland as to view the landscape where Hitler’s army, like so many before, had come to grief in the snowy wastes.
I’d never been to Asia before, never stepped to within one degree of the tropics, let alone the equator.
I’d never been in a cell overnight before, never stepped from free man to life as the accused, the prisoner, the man in handcuffs.
True, everyone had warned me, Moscow is truly cold. The sun’s so bright it causes snow blindness, the absence of warmth deceptive of a power that’s like nothing you have met before. No warning even came close: nothing could have previewed that field of snow and ice, that cold blinding light accompanying the wind slicing through tog thirty five. No let up. Not a moment’s break in the view from the bus from Sheremetyevo into Red Square, 8 a.m. and thirty five below. And even at eleven at night its glimmer remains, will remain, through night, into another cold, reflective day.
True, everyone had warned me, Singapore is truly hot. The sun’s so bright it burns your eyes if you’re not careful, easy to get caught out by glare like nothing you have met before. No warning even came close: nothing could have previewed that wall of penetrating, all pervading heat, attacking factor thirty five. No let up. No awning halts the sear or cools the noontide’s thirty five degrees. And yet by seven it fades, in less than thirty minutes sinks for a full twelve hours, to rise into another hot, brilliant day.
True, everyone had warned me, I would not have believed it so truly cold. The constant soulless fluorescent light soaks its way into the dull cream walls like nothing I have met before. No warning could ever have come close: nothing could have previewed the unblinking stare, day and night, of those damned lights, or the constantly changing guard. No let up. No chance of physical or emotional warmth in a police cell on a hot midsummer night with lights full on, communicating chill. And then the night brings gradual realisation that this light won’t fade. Cell door propped open as the constable watches every breath of the first lit night of my newly shattered life.
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Anon., Arbury Court, Platinum Award for Poem
We used to laugh, girl, didn’t we? Graeme, CJSW Edinburgh, Platinum Award for Poem
We used to laugh, girl, didn’t we? It wasn’t all bad, back then, giving it hell the mad days and drunk nights. My god, how much money we spent on booze (still do) despite remaining increasingly sober.
I am Nicole. I’m seven years old. I frown because I don’t like having my picture took. I can hear traffic in the distance. My flip-flops are comfortable pink with flowers. It’s very warm out here. I go out after school to play my favourite games of hide and seek with my friends. I face the wall and count to thirty. I hear voices laughing and shouting and I hear the birds singing as friends fall silent. I have counted to thirty. As I turn around there is no-one there.
Alastair, HMP Dumfries, Platinum Award for Poem
I slip through cracks into my past. The sun is brighter and warmer. Times are simple, no knots to untangle. My friends and I charge battle lines. ‘Army’ is the best! 9 am to 3 pm has been liberated for us to fight our war. School is a distant memory and future. These are diamond days. Dad still dresses in a beard of softest wool. Mum conjures up delights in a steaming cauldron. Always with beans. Even Nick has been injected with the Quick Step. I crawl through forests of grass, next to ladybird castles. Watch marshmallow skies and wait to be telegraphed to come in for ‘tea’. The step back is always like skiing in marmalade. Everything is dimmer. The sun is wrapped in bandages. Mum and Dad now live in my past. I see them only in faded pictures. Nick has shrunk. Old age has dressed him in weights. Oh, and the war was lost. Adulthood overran our position.
Representing prisons, mental health facilities, detention centres and other secure settings 15
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walked into my local bookies, where I was well-known, and realised immediately that something was different. Four huge consoles, about half the size of a red telephone box, were placed strategically in and around the betting arena. The epitome of German engineering – solid, sleek and efficiently beautiful. Dave the manager smiled and said they were called ‘Fixed Odds Betting Terminals’, the company’s latest initiative to improve proﬁts and turnover. As a man in my middle age, I’ve never really been interested in technology or gadgets. Some might call me boring, but though I was impressed with Dave’s demo, I felt the machines were for the younger clientele, more familiar with touch screen technology. I made a subconscious decision to stick with what I knew, namely the horses and football. But being a gambler, I’ve always been a people watcher too, and it was easy to notice how popular the machines became. New clientele showed up, becoming regulars, mainly younger men, and a signiﬁcant increase in Asian and Arabic players. Although the FOBT were equipped with a multitude of games, by far the most popular choice was roulette. Having only seen the game in TV and movie scenes, I knew very little about its betting and payout parameters, but having an inquisitive brain I soon learned all the ins and outs. Instead of ignoring the roulette machines, I started to make a habit of standing behind, and to the right, of a player. In this way, I could see his stake, his spread and the outcome of the spin. I’ve been gambling since I was eleven. Most of my friends are punters. I’ve lived the life as such, and my relationship with Effy (as I nicknamed the machine) began the next morning, when the shop was quiet and the racing wouldn’t begin for a couple of hours. The spin was successful, and my pound became £3.60. During the course of that day, and in the days to come, I would play the roulette machines when I found myself with £1 coins to spare, in between the horse racing, which was still my main reason for being in the shop. I didn’t always win, but I won most of all when I played on the roulette machine in the corner. It had begun. I had given the FOBT a gender. As I fed her the first ﬁver, I spoke to her. I asked her to be kind to me, and treat me gently. The anticipation and excitement I felt, before that spin, was delightful. It lasted 40 seconds, because the bet was a loser. I took out my second fiver, and, with a little more trepidation, fed it into the slit. Should I change my numbers, or maybe go for lesser odds? I put my hands on the machine, closed my eyes, and, with the connection made, I spoke to her again. I waited, and, when I felt the moment was right, pressed the spin button, watching the screen with rapt concentration. 22 black — I had won!! My win card ﬂashed up on her screen, bright white with digits proclaiming £18. I didn’t realise I’d been holding my breath, but I exhaled in relief and satisfaction. Because of the popularity of the roulette machines, I had to wait until 5.30 before the crowd thinned, and I was able to approach Effy again. She was not only my first choice, popular with many of the punters, but, as I’d watched all afternoon, not many
Romeo and Roulette - A love story by S. Churchill, HMP Long Lartin
joyful customers left her environs. I approached her with respect, placed my hands firmly on her sides, closed my eyes and mentally asked her to be kind to me. We played together for 20 minutes, my win ratio fantastic. I was 100% totally absorbed, and in tune, with Effy, and the rewards she was laying down at my feet. No bet was too extreme, no odds too great, all probabilities confounded. A while later, Dave counted out £223 in winnings, and once again congratulated me. I was in my own little sphere, a big winner, but instead of feeling great as I left the shop, I wanted to rush back in, feed Effy my cash money, and ride once again the waves of our partnership. That night I was unable to sleep, overexcited, replaying my successful adventure over and over again. I couldn’t wait for daybreak, to shower and dress, and be at the door of the bookies when it opened. Our digital unions in cyber space were brief and intense. I didn’t win all the time. In fact, I was winning fewer encounters, but those successful encounters were more prolonged, epic and proﬁtable. I had broken the £1000 mark several times. However, we all know to romance properly is expensive. I was visiting the banks ATM every day, so for every £1000 I won at roulette during the course of a week, it was costing me £1,700 in expenses. When I wasn’t playing with Effy, I was watching, sat on a stool in the bookies, studying her liaisons with other customers. Was she being too generous with them? Did she want them more than me?
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Man Who Couldn’t Smile, Sohail, HM Young Offender Institution Thorn Cross, Pietro Crocioni Commended Award for Printmaking
My friends, and those close to me, expressed concern for my wellbeing. They didn’t know of my relationship with Effy, they asked if I was unwell. Why was I losing weight? Why didn’t I change my clothes more often? Why didn’t I spend time with them any more? I ignored these life lines. Household chores went out of the window, dishes piled up, laundry not done, food cupboards bare, sheets not changed and, most importantly, bills not opened or responded to. My dedication, infatuation and longing for Effy was all encompassing. Weeks passed, and, before I knew it, my old life was gone, the sober, sensible, reliable ex-army veteran was no more. In his place there appeared an addict, someone paranoid, greedy, sleep-deprived, desperate and contemptuous of ‘real life’. I was winning less often, and other punters were winning more with her than I liked. When I won, I took it for granted. After all, she owed me! When I lost, I was angry and accusatory, and even gave her the odd kick when my luck was down. On these occasions, Dave, the manager, would tell me to “Leave, get some fresh air, have something to eat, come back in an hour”, then, more seriously, “I don’t want to bar you, mate, but I will.” Things went from bad to worse. The ATM wouldn’t give me any money, and swallowed my card. After totally embarrassing myself and the teller in the bank with my belligerent and abusive language, I was informed, and came to realise when I calmed down, that I had no funds left. My current account was overdrawn
by £150, my savings account was zero, my ISA I had cashed and moved to my current account six weeks before. I was potless, broke, skint! In fact, I was more than destitute. I owed money in unpaid rent, gas and electric bills were now printed in red ink, letters from the credit companies always seemed to have the words ‘county court’ somewhere in the narrative. Yet, here I was at the ground zero of total destruction, and my ﬁrst thought, my first concern, was how I was going to get to see Effy? There is no happy ending to this story, dear reader, no miracle lottery win, no encounter with a beautiful woman who saved me from myself, no intervention by a kindly priest, and certainly no ‘road to Damascus’ event that prevented a tragedy. At present, I am relating these events from my small room assigned to me for a lot of years, courtesy of Her Majesty’s government. How I got here, and Effy’s part in my downfall, that’s a tale for another day, and involves even more heartache. Still, I must tell you that I think of Effy a lot, after all these years. I yearn to spend time with her. I think I love her even now. I live in an all male community, deprived of female closeness and tenderness, images of gorgeous women icons accessible on TV and in magazines, and, when I close my eyes at night, I conjure Effy from my memories, and the exciting encounters we journeyed together! As my Juliet, can I bear to live without her? Or, was she Lucifer’s latest incarnation of a succubus? Is it really better to have loved and lost, than never loved at all?
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Koestler Award-winning Fiction
Here are some extracts from this year’s award winning entries, selected by Holly Hopkins, Koestler Trust’s Literature Officer.
Extract from A Darkness So Unkind, Richard, HMP Kirklevington Grange, Platinum Award for Fiction Nanna has been on at me all day to “Go outside and get some exercise”. Usually, she’s happy with me being home, but today she has a bee in her bonnet about something, so I know to make myself scarce. I stroll around the garden for a while, skip also our pathways with their big rectangular stones with some corners broken off so they look like dropped biscuits, looking for inspiration as to how to spend my day. The weather is warm and I watch the gulls circling and coasting on air currents about the cove. I tuck my hair behind my ears so I can feel the breeze on my neck. The salty spray of ocean breath. “This is Kasey Haugh reporting live from Herring Gull Bay,” I say, speaking into a pretend microphone. “I’ve been ejected from my home, as Nanna Maybell is in an odd mood, so I’m hanging out with my best friends, the gulls.” I grin and turn to interview the birds. “As residents of the cove, how would you recommend an outcast child like myself spends her day?” I hold out my hand towards them for comment. “Very well,” I say. “We’ll try multiple choice: do I – A) Risk sneaking back inside and find a quiet spot to read? or B) Take a walk down by the beach and…” One of the gulls emits a loud shriek and dives down to snatch something beyond my line of sight. “There we have it.” I turn back to face
the pretend camera. “I will spend some time strolling along the beach and see what mischief I can get into. This is Kasey Haugh, vagrant child, signing off.” I amble along the path that traces the coastline, occasionally tossing a stone to see how far out into the ocean I can get it, but then worry in case one of them might hit a fish, so I stop. There are a few clusters of kids I don’t recognise hanging around; some up by the cliffs, but mostly heading along the path towards town. I suppose a new lot of vacationers are staying with the Wembley’s. I’ve always been homeschooled and have little to do with the local children, so out-of-towners are even less appealing company. I wait for them to pass by before joining the path down the shore. My favourite stretch of the beach is deserted, which isn’t exactly cause for celebration, but I’m very fussy about strangers invading my rock-pools. I’m wearing my favourite white dress with red petals on and, as I wander over the sand and twirl, the breeze catches the hem, curling it around me like a cocoon of cotton. I kick off my shoes and carry them. The sand is warm and I crunch my toes in and out until my feet are buried past my ankles.
Extract from O’Rourke, Michael, HMP & YOI Ashfield, Platinum Award for Fiction [At this point in the novel, school-boy O’Rourke comes to regret boasting about his day-dream plans to visit Claire, a girl he once kissed, who has moved to England] I knock. The wait is murder. Waits can be like this sometimes. Not the sort of waiting for the bus waiting, but waiting for your own funeral waiting. The door opens and Mr Gallagher smiles. This is very, very frightening. “Come in.” I go in. “Cigarette?” I blink. Not really, Mr Gallagher; I just want out of here. “Yes, please.” He offers me one, takes one for himself and then lights them both. He blows smoke upwards. I cough. “My boy tells me you are going to England. To see a girl?” I think I see a look of disgust on his face. Or maybe that’s another smile. You ask him! “That’s right, sir.” I’ve never left Ireland. And let’s get something clear before I go on: I was joking! I never intended to go. You know that. I know that. Mr Gallagher doesn’t seem to know that. “Next week, Sir. Friday.” “Ever been before?” “No, Sir.” “I suggest you leave on Saturday.”
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Koestler Trust arts by offenders
Snowdrifts in a Sunshine Universe, Anon., HMP Bure, Penguin Random House Silver Award for Fiction
Dead Trees, Anon., HMP Hull, Drawing
“Yes, Sir.” Saturday. That’s what I was thinking too. Sir. “Good. I think we understand each other.” I don’t. But I nod, just in case I do. “I have an important document I need delivering.” “A document.” “Yes.” I nod. “I would use the post but, well, seeing as you’re passing the door…” “I am?” “Yes.” “I am!” I too am now confident I am passing the door. “I shall pay you, of course. Enough to cover the extra time and travel.” I freeze as I work this out. Where the fuck is he expecting me to deliver this document, and document it fucking well is,
despite all later appearances! No pretence is allowed at this point. None at all. “Really, it is on your way to Devon. You will take the ferry from Rosslare, then by bus as directed. Once you’ve delivered the documents, you will be with your… What was her name?” “Marie, Sir.” It is the best I can do at short notice. There is no fucking way I’m going to mention her real name, not with her father’s reputation. Not to Mr Gallagher. I’ve been asking around. About both of them. “…Marie, in no time. And you’ll be able to give her a treat. A nice meal in Exeter. Taxi even.” “Yes, sir.” Sweet Jesus, it was only a dream, for Christ’s sake. I’m seven-bloodyteen! I’m allowed to dream! But no one ever acts on dreams. I never intended to go. Really, I intended to take it to the wire and then remember at the last moment that she hated me. For fuck’s sake.
Dean Visconti sat through two more hours of gripping cinema. When it was over, he turned to gauge his son’s reaction to the film. As usual, the boy’s eyes were dissecting the screen with a Gestapo stare that seemed to almost control and censor the moving content. Dean tried to relax, and mused over what he had seen. As far as science fiction goes, he felt it was pretty good, if maybe a tad over the top. As they hit the afternoon sunlight, Dean felt that strange sensation he sometimes experienced whenever things appeared to be quite different from what they actually were. Everything was altogether crisper and more sharply defined. It was as if the street and all its shops had been replaced or upgraded, while they’d been held hostage by the moving frames of horror and paranoia. Feeling an uncanny sense that he knew what was about to happen next, Dean looked up to see a flock of seagulls pass overhead. He questioned whether they were real seagulls or a formation of government spies. Dean felt close to his son Ben, who shared a love of cinema. They devoured the film together as they made their way home. Ben pointed out that it wasn’t over the top at all; claiming rather that it showed reality had pretty much caught up with fiction. Dean conceded this point, and agreed that perhaps society wasn’t too far removed from the director’s warnings. They left it at that.
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From our Online Editor
The Digital AGE by Piers Barber
Interested in music? Want to know how the industry is changing in the 21st Century? Piers, our Online Editor, an expert music blogger, takes us for a quick spin across the wild frontier being pushed forward all the time by digital technologies.
he world is going digital and it’s hard to keep up – no matter what. The music industry, it seems, is slowly learning the lesson that we’re also adopting at Not Shut Up: that the digital world is one to be embraced with creativity, rather than ignored in the hope that one day it will go away. Although the music industry has previously pioneered new technology – take the development of the cassette tape, or the evolution of the MP3 – it has been slow to adapt to the most momentous development of the 21st century: the evolution of the internet. The World Wide Web has posed a number of genuine problems for musicians and labels. Most significantly, pirating and illegal online downloads have struck a devastating blow to the sale of CDs and the fate of high street shops. Streaming services, the largest of which is Spotify, have attempted to counter this trend by hosting millions of tracks online for its subscribers to stream. It’s a system that’s great for fans, although the way the service rewards the artist whose music they provide (each play receives a minute sum of Spotify’s subscription money and advertising revenue) is almost never enough to make a living from, especially for new artists. Almost any song you can think of is also now available for free on YouTube, our online video overlord. Again, artists receive minimal, if any, financial reward when their music is accessed in this way. Yet at the same time, the internet is also having a massively positive effect on the development of the music industry. A fan of Eastern European techno, or partial to a bit Brazilian hip-hop? The bafflingly comprehensive reach of the World Wide Web now means that these sounds are just a search engine click or two away. Similarly, artists now have a vastly more realistic chance of reaching niche groups of fans anywhere in the world. Blogging is also opening up new possibilities. Music fans are no longer reliant on a select number of print magazines for their music news – instead, they can now access countless sources of opinion online, covering a monumental range of artists and styles. The emergence of a free online sharing culture has encouraged artists to be more creative than ever in selling their wares. Musicians
are no longer entirely reliant on expensive marketing campaigns or inclusions on glitzy car adverts to get exposure – instead they can now build up an influential profile online, effectively cutting out PR middle men and strengthening their bond with their most important shareholder: their listeners. The internet, it seems, is beginning to hand control back to the artist. As such, many musicians have embraced free methods of spreading their work, uploading their music onto online services such as Soundcloud to boost awareness. Sites such as Pledge Music allow fans to contribute to a band’s fundraising, handing them a genuine role in creative development in the process. Meanwhile, the growth of social media – Facebook, Twitter and the like – has given musicians an unprecedented method of interacting with their fans directly. Today, artists are looking at other ways of making money. Focus is shifting from record sales towards merchandise, special edition releases and, the big one: live shows. Music festivals continue to grow in popularity, to the extent that writers, comedians and artists have started getting involved in order to reap the same benefits as the bands. Musicians, of course, will always be able to rely on the fact that live music will never go out of fashion. There’s no magic secret to making it big in music through the internet, but nor is it impossible to do so. It’s all about being smart, imaginative and hard-working. So keep on creating! Piers Barber, Online Editor
Piers Barber Online Editor
I’m a writer, researcher and Not Shut Up’s digital guru. Having studied in Edinburgh and California, I carried out extensive research into prisons and other social issues affecting Los Angeles during the 1990s. I joined Not Shut Up in September last year, and am focused on leading the transformation of our website into the leading platform for the arts of the unfree on the world wide web. Not Shut Up’s new website can be found at www.notshutup.org. We can also be found on Twitter @NotShutUpUK and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/NotShutUpmag. Any queries, comments or contributions to the website can be emailed to email@example.com.
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English PEN Competition
Write to be heard again
– English PEN creative writing competition 2014 English PEN, which has been actively involved in campaigning against the government ban on prisoners receiving books in parcels, will be rolling out its 2014 writing competition in October. The themes have yet to be decided, but Flash Fiction and Book Reviews are a strong part of the project, as well as Poetry and Prose, underlining the important role books have in encouraging writing, reading and selfreflection.
PEN’s prison programme sends writers and their books into prison communities all over the UK to deliver reading and Q&A events, as well as writing workshops. Most recently, we sent Femi Martin into HMP Rochester and HMP Isis with a flash fiction project, which was run over several weeks. The feedback was fantastic! We also work with Oxford University Press to deliver free dictionaries, as well as many supportive publishers who send their writers’ books in for free. We urge as many prisons as possible
to enter this year’s competition – the numbers have been steadily climbing since we began three years ago. We are grateful to the librarians and prison staff who promote the competition. Look out for posters and application forms in Inside Time or the English PEN website or email firstname.lastname@example.org. “Through literature, we can find our place in the world, feel we belong and discover our sense of responsibility.” Michael Morpugo
Books banned in prison? Build your own! So, English PEN are looking for stories, poems and reviews, while Koestler give awards for longer pieces of writing, such as collections of poetry and novels. But how do you go about writing a whole damn book, when most of us have problems writing a letter or a job application? A few years ago, while visiting HMP Pentonville, I got talking to a lawyer. Not someone working in there, but a prisoner who had tired of the legal trade, became a property developer and then got into smuggling containers full of cigarettes from Eastern Europe. Rich and confident, his only problem in prison was boredom, so I advised him to write a book about his rather fascinating life. He said he’d read thousands of books in the past, but had no idea how to go about writing one himself. So, knowing about his background in property construction, I advised him: “If you wanted to build a house, you wouldn’t just buy a million bricks and start slapping them down, would you? But that’s what most writers do – they sit down in front of an empty page with a million words swirling inside their heads and try to make them into a book! Stupid, stupid, stupid. Think about writing a book the way you would about building a house – first, get your surveying done, so you know what sort of land you are building on. Then, you get an architect to plan and sketch everything out, so
you know what you’re building before you start. Then you get your schedule, your budget and your team together, so when the first brick is laid, everyone knows what they’re doing. “With books, it can be the same. First, survey the genre you are writing in and see what other books are out there that compare to yours. Read them, work out what made them successful. Then, draft your book, plotting out your chapters, so you know where each section goes and how it relates to the other bits of the book. Then, develop your characters, create a schedule to help you keep track of work, and only once you know exactly where the book is going, get writing!” Like all good advice, of course, my words fell on deaf ears (I don’t think that lawyer ever did write his autobiography), but rules, as old cons say, are meant to be broken. Not being one to get easily discouraged (remember, the one essential quality of a successful artist is resilience!), I am now working with Dean Stalham, one of our Academy members, on helping him write his life story, provisionally called “From A to B to CID”. You can read an interview with him in the previous issue of our magazine, and find the first chapter of his book overleaf – enjoy! Marek Kazmierski, Managing Editor
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Not Shut Up Academy
A to B to C.I.D… “The truth, the whole truth, nothing but the truth, so help me Dog…”
Myths and Legends, the opening section from the upcoming autobiography by Dean Stalham. CHAPTER ONE – THE ADAMS FAMILY 1870. In a Glasgow slum tenement, the Gorbals, Rotten Row to be exact, no place on earth more like hell, Sarah Adams, a Jew without a Husband, screamed out in agony as she gave birth to her first-born son George. Her mother Rebecca reeled back. “He’s the head the size of the moon!” Big George Adams, weighing 14 pounds plus, at a guess of course, had entered into a world of abject hardship and poverty. He grew into a big man, six feet six inches of brawn and muscle, his only tools his spade like hands, numerous scars mapping his existence. All he knew was violence, the Jewish enforcer, protection and racketeering his stock in trade, a one-man wrecking ball. “The Moon’s here!” was his bone shaking calling card. He was as feared a man as any in Glasgow, an un-stoppable force, until in 1902 a woman came into his life. Slight and pretty, yet hardy and worldly, she tamed the savage beast. Her name was Annie Jardine and she loved her big man with an intense and very much requited passion. Their problem, however, was that George was 32 and Annie just 15. Her family, steeped in crime also, vowed to end this triste, plotting to kill the suitor, his grave the icy River Clyde. Annie pleaded with him to leave, to run away together, to elope. He wouldn’t go until he’d sorted things
out with her father, her uncles and her brothers. He assured her he would be just going to talk to them, to reason a little, but as was his style, he went to have this wee chat armed with three knives, a machete and a hammer. After a six-on-one battle, he left Scotland, his bloodied head held high, his body cut to shreds, his young bride to be by his proud side. They stopped in County Durham to get married in a registry office, a stop-off that lasted four years, in which they had two daughters; Ivy and Ruby. With the money he had and the money she’d taken from her dad, they started a small legitimate company supplying labourers to the building trade, illegitimately hiring out muscle to loan sharks and public houses. At Annie’s stern insistence, George was never to get his hands dirty again. He was now the Boss. But then so was she. In 1906, she heard rumour of a big build in London, a stadium being built especially for the 1908 Olympics, in the district of White City. Convincing George it was where they needed to be, they upped sticks and with twenty of their best and most loyal men headed for the Big Smoke. George worked on the West London site with his own firm of tradesmen and labourers, with the title of head ganger. With the job came a house, their first real home, bricks and mortar and their names above the door, all legit, above board, signed and sealed. Their new house was a three bedroomed
property, part of the first wave of residents on a new estate called Clitterhouse. Built on former farm land, this first corner of the major development was set on strange pasture. At the end of their garden was a meadow of tall grass that looked like it could have come from Tuscany or The Pampas even, grass that swayed in ghostly breezes, at the end of which sat Smoky Hill – though covered in lush emerald grass, it was in fact a hill of ash disposed from the steam locomotives that pulled into the sidings, screeching metallically each night beyond Brent terrace, a row of railway workers cottages built in the mid 1800’s. When it felt like it, it became a volcano of sorts, albeit a soft and gentle one, belching out smoke signals at will, but only when it seemed to want to. It had a spiritual feel about it, one Annie and her girls adored. To the right of Smoky Hill was The Klondike, a long dusty track of bars, brothels and gambling dens run by County Durham men, that led down to an algaecovered lake smothered by six feet tall bulrushes with a harvest of wild rhubarb. A place no sane man would dare to tread or venture, especially after dark, still, the Adams family adored wild rhubarb pie and custard, so it suited them perfectly. In 1920, George and Annie had their last child, Esther May. Born frail, weak, close to death with breathing difficulties and complications, she was the apple of her dad’s eye and the owner of her mum’s heart.
22 www.notshutup.ORG www.notshutup.
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Artwork by Dean Stalham
The estate getting bigger and bigger, all signs of former farmland diminishing daily, Annie paid off a corrupt town hall official to ensure nothing was to be built beyond their garden, the Adams’ family home retaining the best view of all the Clitterhouse lot. The three girls watched their mum and dad remove the end fencing to extend the sides right up to the long, heavenly grass meadow, with Smoky Hill majestically crowning the far end. George and Annie would then wander, hand in hand, through the lush grass to watch the sun go down over the Klondike. That, and to collect their rent money.
In 1930, with nowhere for the kids on the estate to play, George, prompted by an idea from Annie of course, levelled what he could of a triangular shaped piece of land that was too steep to build on and created a playground, consisting of a sand pit, two swings and a see-saw. At the top, on the flattest bit of ground, he put up a set of goalposts with a net, counted out 12 yards with only 8 strides of his 40 inch inside legs and burnt in a penalty spot. He’d loved football ever since being present and witnessing the infamous White Horse FA Cup Final at his beloved White City Stadium. Stiff waxed-and-moustached council
officials, backed up with a firm of thick set bailiffs armed with sledge hammers and picks, came to knock the playground down. The burly bunch knew who George Adams was and didn’t really want to be there. Aged 60, dressed in an imposing leather jerkin, Annie’s big man stood his ground, his trusty Purdey shotguns nestling in his giant forearms. She and sparrow-like Esther May looked proudly on. “Watch your Daddy now, Esther,” Annie whispered in her daughter’s ear. “The Moon’s here,” was all George had to say. The playground stayed where it was, as it does to this very day.
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Kennings – the Viking way out of your concrete hell This year, Not Shut Up is celebrating 10 years of its existence, and in our spring issue Poetry Editor Anna Robinson invited you to write a “concrete hell” poem! Concrete hell (as in cell) could be said to be cockney rhyming slang - it could also be a Kenning. Kennings were Viking and Anglo-Saxon poetic phrases that featured in poetry and sagas. They were like mini riddles. They consisted of two words, a base word and a determinant. The base word is the word that is standing in for what is being discussed, so ‘hell’ is the base word in our concrete hell example. Vikings poets usually wrote about their sea journeys; common kennings for the sea were ‘bed for fish’, ‘whale house’, ‘island ring’, ‘frothing beer of the coastline’. One good example of a kenning we use in modern speech is ‘sky scraper’ for tall building. There is no real mention of the building there, it is just something that scrapes the sky, and yet we all understand it. Sarah Leipciger, one of the few remaining creative writing tutors in our jails, worked with her students in HMP Wandsworth to produce some of the following marvels. Read, enjoy, be inspired!
Social & Domestic
Underground market Congo queues Waterfall acoustics Inconsistent footsteps Stock-exchange yelling Comedy-club laughter Come dine with me gathering
On-board computer Personal calculator Self creator Idea maker Heart’s companion Body controller Mood decider Home of the mind Personality generator Synapse centre Personal world of two halves
Sports Fans Faraque
Remote-control dictator Sofa tester TV’s best friend Labron loyalist Wenger warrior Clueless expert
The Brain Andrew
The Hand John
Parkinsons’s clue ATM conduit Pen gymnast Fungal receptacle
Computing sponge Writer’s block Reality looter Einstein’s cabinet Picasso’s palette Neural network Cognitive RAM Problem solver Surgeon’s nightmare Fissures and valleys Fool’s paradise
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Two poems Brian
He asked me what I took to feel so happy As I sat and basked in the exercise yard sun. An alarm bell, cheering, A parcel, Laughter. No comment from me, the perfect answer. More shouts, promises and mischievous camaraderie, he followed his Belonging in a secret family. I thought then, reflecting, How can I complainâ€Ś As the fiery sun dissolved my bang-up strain. Is it then ingratitude, or a geometrical curse in these sweaty iron tombs That can twist my happiness and make me ache as the remorseful Past and present deliberate? This ancient suffocation box of surrender has given its survivors joy in A hidden dialogue behind the news and the weather My taking is a heavenly release reclining in a concrete hell.
Itâ€™s time I share with this iron tomb. This lightless box Dimly reflects on the two of us. The hands move slowly across faces here, The heart, it beats but for elsewhere. Beauty restricted beyond the barbed-wire necklace, I yearn to breathe a newborn breath. The reach, it seems an ungrab-able thing, Like attempting to climb a descending escalator.
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Koestler Trust arts by offenders
The Koestler Trust’s 2014 UK Exhibition by Fiona Curran, Director of Arts, Koestler Trust
ach year, thousands of people across the criminal justice and other secure settings enter music, writing, art, design and craft into the Koestler Awards. As well as feedback, certificates, awards and mentoring, we also hold several public exhibitions each year, sharing the talent of entrants with the public. In the 2014 Koestler Awards year, we’ll hold exhibitions in London (of work from across the UK and by British prisoners abroad), Cardiff (of work from Wales) and Birmingham (of work from the West Midlands). This year’s UK exhibition opens at Royal Festival Hall in London’s Southbank Centre on 24 September. Each year, a different group or individual is asked to put their own stamp on the Southbank show. Past curators include artist Sarah Lucas, rapper Speech Debelle, victims of crime and women prisoners. This year, we decided to invite eight ex-offenders who have completed a year-long programme of mentoring with our specially trained and supported artist mentors, to choose the work that over 20,000 exhibition visitors will see. Many of these curators have had their own visual art or writing exhibited in previous Koestler Trust exhibitions, and so know from personal experience the impact being exhibited has on participants’ motivation, relationships and confidence. We chose the title for the show back in May. It reflects the huge number of
entries that responded to this year’s themed category ‘Dreams.’ When I saw lots of beautiful dream catchers, this led to ‘Catching Dreams.’ I think it also says something about what people’s entries mean to them, and reflects themes within a lot of our entries. Each curator approached the challenge differently. Many first chose one key artwork, and then selected the others around it, so that all the pieces have a central idea in common. A couple of the curators approached the process of selection differently, looking simply for individual pieces that spoke to them, and then seeing how they all worked together. One curator reflected on the difficulty of ‘judging’ or choosing works, when each piece entered into the Koestler Awards is meaningful and signifies success in its own right. He let fate play a hand by choosing a collection of pieces only by people named ‘David’ (Daves were also admissible, and he searched in vain for a Davina or Davinia). The exhibition also includes Lights Out, an installation by visual artist Janetka Platun, showcasing poetry and prose submitted to the Koestler Awards. Janetka was chosen to work with us through an open submission process, through which artists were asked to suggest an exciting idea for showcasing writing entered into the Koestler Awards. Janetka is creating a darkened room where visitors will find excerpts of prose and poetry which will ‘appear’ and ‘disappear’ for 2 minutes and
32 seconds. This represents how often someone leaves or enters prison in the UK, and the disjointed effect it has on their lives and on those around them. Poetry and prose entered into the Koestler Awards will also be available for viewers to read through this copy of Not Shut Up, which will be available free in the exhibition space. We are currently training people who’ve been through the criminal justice or secure system to work alongside Southbank Centre hosts, to welcome visitors and invigilate the exhibition. As well as gaining unique work experience and new skills, the hosts will deepen visitors’ engagement with the show, enabling everyone to hear first-hand how the arts reflect and enrich the lives of people in secure and criminal justice settings. This is the second year we’ve run this employment project at our UK exhibition. Last year’s participants all had very positive experiences, and we benefitted loads from their extra knowledge and dedication. As this issue goes to press, we’ll be running around putting all the finishing touches to the show, and finishing plans for literature, music and ‘behind the scenes’ events. Thank you for all your submissions to the Koestler Awards this year (the most ever!), we wish we could exhibit everything, but hope people will love what the curators have selected. We think it will be the best yet!
Catching Dreams: Art by offenders, secure patients and detainees, curated by graduates of the Koestler Trust’s mentoring programmes runs from 24 September – 30 November 2014 at Spirit Level at Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, London SE1 8XX. Daily 10am – 11pm. Admission free
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Koestler Trust arts by offenders
River, Anon., HMP Grendon, Ed King Silver Award for Portraits
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Koestler Trust arts by offenders
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My Dream, Paulo, HMP Shotts, The Frederick Davies Highly Commended Award for Painting
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Cycle of Nature, Anon., HMP Full Sutton, Evelyn Plesch Platinum Award for Watercolour
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Photographed by Vaiva Katinaityte
NOT SHUT UP COMPETITION
A call out for submissions for the first Not Shut Up book! Inspired by the Prison Diaries project organised by American PEN and Anne Frank House in US in 2009, we are planning to publish a book of Jail Journals from the UK later this year. And it is not only stories from inside cells that we want to read, but we want journals to show the full picture of modern incarceration – stories about:
Life before being imprisoned, and what led to loss of freedom Being locked up, for good or ill Being freed and how it felt Life after release and all its challenges Working in prisons – prison staff, we want to hear from you! Volunteering in prisons – what makes people want to give their time to those in jail? Teaching in prison – how does modern education work or not work behind bars? Families and friends – how does having those close to you “inside” change your life?
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ANONYMOUS!!! All stories will be published anonymously, to make sure you can be honest about your experience, without worrying how this will affect your life, your job or your chance of being free again. Everyone who sends in their story and is chosen for publication will receive a free copy of the book. The competition is open to everyone – inmates, staff, family, friends. Write 50 words or 50,000. If your writing is good enough, we will consider publishing your book all by itself. We really want to hear from those working in prisons, secure hospitals, detention centres, children’s homes and the like. We guarantee FULL ANONIMITY, if you do write to us BCM NOT SHUT UP using your name and PO Box 12 address.
Deadline for submissions 30th November 2014
London WC1N 3XX
Or Freepost RRXA-AHGR-ZCZL
Kerouac with a shotgun
— from robbery to writing, a life on the streets of Europe Interview with David Rickerby, by Marek Kazmierski
nowing I edit a magazine of unfree arts, people send me all sorts of interesting things. A while back, someone emailed me a link to an online TV programme about a library, in Denmark. It turned out to be the most interesting and unusual story, featuring an English exbank robber, who sleeps in a park, spends his days reading books, lives from recycling other people’s waste and has written a story of his life, due to be published soon thanks to a crowd-funding campaign by local people. I managed to track him down, using the magic of the internet, and interviewed him using email. You can read an extract from his book on the following pages. We will keep you updated as to what happens next in future issues!
Marek Kazmierski: David, please tell us a little about your
David Rickerby: I was arrested on August 1987, charged, then pleaded guilty to two charges of robbery and sentenced to eight years. I was released on parole in April ‘92. Fun fact, I was arrested the day of the Madonna concert in Leeds which was held just down the road from the robbery I was arrested for. My creative roots spread from Chaucer to Kerouac, The Beats, Nineteenth century gothic horror, pulp fiction of the Thirties and Forties, the Surrealists and Bukowski. Also, poetry, of all kinds. It would be easier to state what I don’t read. I’ve never been a huge reader of science fiction & fantasy. I also like film noir, jazz & blues, and Orientalist art. I would say I tend to the ‘outsider’ type of arts. I find most mainstream fiction, and I include crime fiction, insipid. Crime as a genre is essentially porn written by virgins. MK: Can you tell us about your earliest encounters with art? DR: As a child, my mother restricted my TV time and encouraged
me to read instead. When I was eight, my comprehension skills were tested and I was judged to have the level of a 13 year-old. Reading was predominantly a pleasure, but also a sort of narcotic. I find reading to be an activity which requires absolute attention, and thus distractions have to be ignored. A useful trait in any prison activity. I had always harboured ambitions/fantasy about being a writer, but it was only a few years ago I decided I had the right stories and also the skills to tell them.
MK: Did anyone inspire and encourage you to become a writer? Teachers perhaps?
DR: Though I had the interest and the intelligence to go onto
higher education, I found school to be tedious in the extreme, and that disinterest extended to my exam results. Also, deferred gratification wasn’t my thing. By the time I was a teen, I had started stealing. My adolescence was the usual progression of increasingly more serious crimes, from burglary to robbery. There were also cultural reasons, no-one in my family had ever gone to university, thus there was no expectation that I would. It wasn’t something the Northern working-class did. I was accepted into college to study Journalism, after my release, but I lasted a week. I’ll listen to others, my ego isn’t that extensive, but ultimately I make the final creative decisions, not tutors.
MK: So what eventually caused you to take writing seriously? DR: Most of the things which I encountered showed their influence
in my negative reaction to them. Family, teachers, the general social consensus on what constituted ‘life’. Given that few of the people I knew growing up seemed happy, and yet they still expected me to join them in living the way they did, my instinctive reaction was – fuck that! I didn’t know what direction I was going to take, but I knew what I didn’t want. My stepfather had ideas on that subject, about crime. I discovered that I enjoyed being
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involved in dodgy things and, at least for a while, was good at it. As the poet Robert Browning once wrote, “The giddy line midway: one step aside, they’re classed and done with.” (Bishop Blougram’s Apology) It’s an easy lifestyle to get into, but difficult to get out of. That’s why I initially came to Denmark, after I decided to go straight, to a place where no one knew me or asked questions.
MK: Was there any creative practice you could access while behind bars?
DR. I actually did OK in prison, and had few negative experiences,
outside of actually being there. I got to the library, whilst on remand, on a regular basis. I can do most things, but I need books. I was library orderly a couple of times, and I worked on a prison magazine at HMP Garth called Newspeak. I did little creative work, outside of poetry. Prison was research. I mostly read, engaging with literature in order to discover my own voice. I acknowledge inspiration, but I had to write those influences out of my style, so that my voice was the only one heard.
MK: Did you have a clear idea of what you were going to do when back out again?
DR: Given that most people who come out of jail are back inside
within two years, I kind of expected not to last too long. I didn’t plan/want to continue my criminal life, I just had no hope or expectation of doing anything else. I went to college, lasted a week, violated my parole by going to France. I came back, handed myself in, they didn’t revoke me, but I kind of hoped they would. It took many years before I got a group of friends who hadn’t been criminals, and I had to go abroad to find them. My travels were a form of self-protection. If I had stayed in the UK, I was going back to prison. Because the outside world scared me, I had no reason to think I would survive in it. Though crime wasn’t something I wanted to do, the only other option seemed to be total subjugation to a culture I didn’t like. After jail, I looked for a way of staying free, but also out of the 9-5. I found this balance in vagabonding and homelessness. This freed me to up to write.
MK: Is living on the streets of Denmark enough for you? DR: The only thing I wish on a material level is the easing of
my present circumstances. A permanent shelter, instead of a borrowed spot, and sufficient income to negate the necessity of collecting trash for the deposit money. The writing is a desperate and reckless attempt to achieve that. I don’t drive, and even if the book sells it will never be a ‘career.’
MK: How did you choose Denmark over other parts of the world to be homeless in?
DR: It wasn’t only a question of nobody knowing me, it was also
about me not knowing anything about the place. All I knew about Denmark was Lego, bacon, vikings and Hans Christian Andersen. So, no preconceptions and no expectations, just open to all of it. I was too old to be going to India, and needed a country with
infrastructure, and access to books of course. I found Denmark to be quiet, safe, almost naive. It embraces the status quo, or the mediocre, depending on your feelings, considering the lack of initiative generally shown by people here. It seems to be a place of slow, incremental growth, rather than bold leaps. Even its professed liberalism is more of a case of ‘whatever, just don’t bother me.’ As for me leaving to go elsewhere, this is unlikely. I would need strong reasons. My friends are here, and I have no great desire to live anywhere else. My Bohemian Parisian dreams are long gone. I’m 48, it’s a nice, quiet country to grow old in. I do my thing, and few bother me.
MK: Now, tell us about the process of writing your book, Bloody Fields. DR: I have taken the criminal elements of my life in England, and transported them to Denmark. I then mix them in with my honest, hard-working Danish life. Basically, what I do is lead a Jekyll and Hyde existence. Denmark is a very honest place, and my friends trust me, so how do I live two lives, without them crossing? I have tried to keep the book as factually correct as possible, using those things I have done, witnessed, or have been told by people who have no reason to lie. Naturally, details have been changed, exaggerated, combined. I am not looking to confess, or give the specifics of criminal behaviour/technique, merely to convince the public I know what I am writing about. If you wanted to a short descriptive phrase, it’s a criminal road novel, Kerouac with a shotgun. MK: Did you struggle to get the book finished? DR: Actually, I had a lot of fun:) There were certain things that
I didn’t care to remember, but it was all part of the purpose of writing to deal with that, so I was ready. The biggest problems were technical – can I put that bit in the book without compromising myself or others? I let no one look at it until it was finished. I even stopped reading crime fiction, as I wanted no other voice to be heard but mine. Not my friends, not the publishing market. I tried to avoid all other influences, even on a subconscious level. They’re probably still there, but no one else could have written this, and certainly not like this.
MK: So, when will the book be out? DR: Due to the constant delays, it has been decided to just get the
book out for those who donated to the project, with a few extra copies for review purposes. Then, I intend to make it available as POD (print on demand) title and as an e-book. So, the book will be available regardless of where you are. It is hoped that it will be this summer. Please turn overleaf to read an extract from David’s book Bloody Fields. If you have access to the internet, you can watch the documentary about David here http://goo.gl/WN2OUp Images courtesy of TV 2 | ØSTJYLLAND
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Not Shut Up Feature
BLOODY FIELDS an extract by David Rickerby CHAPTER ONE - ICE COLD IN JUTLAND I awoke in the toilet of a church. Taking seriously the Christian tradition of sanctuary, whoever kept the place in order had left the toilets unlocked, so I had shelter for the night and thanks to the heater being on I’d also been warm. The clothes I’d washed in the basin the night before had dried, socks warming my feet as I put them on. I’d noticed that many rural churches in Denmark did the same. There was negligible chance of vandalism out here in the sticks, and if there were any junkies in the area, I doubt they were shooting up in the church toilet. This was not always the case in the city. I’d chosen this village to stop at, not just for the toilet but because they had a small supermarket I could take my empty bottles back to and, miracle of miracles, a bakery. The rural baker was dying out in Denmark, but I like to support small independent business and the girls were generally pretty and smiled when I bought my coffee and wienerbrød (which translates as ‘Vienna bread’). It’s what the rest of the world calls a ‘Danish’, but perversely enough around here they call it ‘Vienna Bread’, because it was invented by Viennese bakers in Denmark in the 1800’s. Which is fine by me. I’m a man of small pleasures. Clean clothes, coffee and a smile from a pretty girl, even if it’s strictly professional. Having been where I’ve been, it sets me up nicely, along with the warm socks, for the coming day. Denmark can be a bleak and remote place at times, but North Jutland district is positively fucking desolate. It has bitter northern wind that races across a landscape with no natural defences, slicing through you like a viking razor, cyclists struggling in cross winds under a battleship grey sky. Though I’d been living in city landscapes for a while, it hadn’t affected my sensitivity to nature enough not to know, without having to ask the DMI (Danish Meteorological Institute), that snow was coming. There were a few flurries as I approached, in the mid-afternoon, a small village near Brønderslev. The local Village Hall had
its lights on and, praise the lord, the library was open. It was small, only open twice a week, and only then for a few hours. I couldn’t expect an extensive range of contemporary English literature, but I’d settle for internet and coffee. As is common in many municipalities, to use the computers you need to have a library card, but the librarian was so surprised to have a ‘Danishspeaking’ Englishman in town, she let me use it anyway. I couldn’t live in small-town Denmark permanently. I’ve done too much of it whilst travelling and working, but you can frequently profit from your novelty value, and this was one of the smaller ways I’d done that over the years. Before I left, I asked the librarian if there was a supermarket in the area; there was. In fact, there was a small, characterless mall, which after a quick search of the bins, the detritus of the local kids hanging out, not only gave me enough for dinner, but with what I’d picked up from the roadside I had enough for a beer in a local bar. It was a typical bodega, Tuborg on tap and Kim Larsen on CD. There were few customers. Men, mostly, guys who may have had homes but not any place they wanted to go. They glanced briefly at me, and then turned away. I ordered and paid for my beer. The barman didn’t ask me if I wanted a glass, that would be an expression of concern that I’d get the most from my drinking experience, and he didn’t gave a fuck. I did want a glass, and said so. He didn’t throw it at me, but it slid down the bar very quickly. I picked it up and took my beer off to a secluded table. The place was small enough to avoid the legal restrictions on smoking. So, I took out my book, poured my beer and lit a cigarette. Ten minutes later, a female voice interrupted me. I looked up to see a woman, maybe late 20’s, stood there with a cigarette in her hand, and a glint in her eyes that reminded me of sunlight reflected off the barrel of a gun. She spoke again. “May I borrow your lighter?” “Certainly.” She picked it up, lit her cigarette and put it back on the table. “Thanks”, then a pause. “Excuse me, are you English?” “I am, but how did you know?” Then I realised. “The book?” “Actually”, she smiled, “it was the accent.” Between asking for a light and this stage of the conversation, she’d taken her coat off and sat down, and we were soon chatting away like old friends. Of course, she wanted to know what I was doing in town. I like to get that out of the way as soon as possible, as it generally proves to be fairly decisive in whether the relationship continues and in what direction it goes. “Working.” “As a what?” “Farmworker, landbrugsmedhjælper, as you say around here”. “You came to Denmark to be a farm worker?” “I came to Denmark because I couldn’t get work in the UK.” “Why not?” “I have a criminal record.” Here it comes, wait for the flash of concern across the face,
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Apparition of Affliction, Anon., HMP Peterborough, Silver Award for Portraits
quick grab of the the handbag and surreptitious glances at the clock, ‘Oh, is that the time... I must go... Nice to have met you...’ But this woman didn’t appear concerned. In fact, she seemed quite interested. Pleased even. I’ve had that reaction before as well. “For what?” “Bank robbery.” “How long? “Eight years.” “How old were you when you started?” “Nineteen.” “And when you were arrested?” “Twenty one.” “How many altogether?” “Fifteen.” “You were caught for how many?” “Two.”
“Your sentence was how long?” “Eight.” “And you served?” “Five of those.” “19-21-15-2-8-5! They sound like lottery numbers, you should try them.” “I do, every week.” Actually, I don’t. Partly, because lotteries are a scam, but also because it never occurred to me before she pointed it out. “Have you won anything?” “Not so much as a fucking kroner.” She laughed, and asked the important question. “Did you make much?” “It’s a tough way to make an easy living.” “I imagine.” “And if it’s hard to get, it’s impossible to keep hold of.” “Nineteen is young.” “Nineteen is young for robbery, granted, but that wasn’t my first crime. I was fourteen when I committed my first burglary. It was the storeroom of the liquor store that my mum and stepdad had been running.” “From stealing vodka to robbing banks is quite a leap.” “It took a while, but it seemed a logical progression in retrospect.” “What about houses?” “Did it twice, we had a commission from a ‘bent’ antiques dealer for some furniture.” “‘Bent’, in English, is ‘gay’, yes?” She inquired, curious at the use and meaning of the word. “It also means corrupt, which is the sense I’m using it.” Closer than that, we didn’t get. “Anyway, what’s the point of breaking into twenty houses for twenty televisions, when you can break into one shop and get the same?” “So, it wasn’t ethical considerations then?” I’m never sure when women ask me about ethics. “I had rules, but I wouldn’t be so arrogant as to call them ‘morals’ or ‘ethics’. I was in crime, because I was good at it, it paid well and it was fun. I got out when it stopped being that.” “So, you’re not going back to it?” Turn-on or turn-off, I wondered to myself. “It’s all about balance. What will I gain against what could I lose. My life might not look like much to others, but I’ve got friends, work whenever I want it. If I go back to prison, I lose it all.” “Tell me about your first time.” I raised my eyebrows. “That story would take longer to tell than the original act.” She laughed. “Not that first, your first robbery. Tell me about the first time you pointed a gun at someone.” Actually, that’s two separate events. I decided to tell her about one of the jobs I’d gotten caught for, as if it was my first. My actual first no-one knows about.
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Koestler Award-winning Creative Response
The Ministry of Fear by Graham Greene The Ministry of Fear, Anon., HMP Dartmoor, Silver Award for Creative Response I had no suspicion of what was about to happen as I trudged to the classroom. I was fifteen; I had my whole life ahead of me and resented having to learn about things that were, by definition, History. The teacher, Mr. Jones, reeked of the past. The suit that hung off him had been out of fashion for at least fifteen years, and his hair and beard were so white that it was impossible to imagine them ever having been any other colour. I begrudgingly took my seat, resigned to another musty lesson about some war or other, but hope kindled as I spotted the TV trolley that occasionally got wheeled into lessons. “What are we watching, Sir?” “Oh, just The Greatest Film Of All Time.” I swear I could hear the capitals. The film was The Third Man. It was black and white, and opened with zither music. I began to doubt Mr. Jones’s judgement, but it was an improvement on the usual lessons, so I sat back and gave it a go.
“Well,” he said, looking remarkably calm for a man who had just changed my life forever. “If you enjoyed that, you should try reading Graham Greene. He wrote the screenplay. He’s rather good.” I rushed to the library; they had several of his books. As a teenage boy, my choice of title was obvious – the Ministry of Fear. I read it in one sitting, my eyes truly opened. I had never considered that books could hold dazzling ideas as well as thrilling stories. One scene in particular took my breath away: the hero attends a séance. He is convinced that the person sat next to him is going to kill him as soon as the lights are
turned out, yet he says nothing. His British, stiff-upper-lip sensibilities, his desire ‘not to make a scene’ outweigh even his fear of death. The idea was so brilliant, and so true, that I had to stop reading for a moment. I recognised myself in the protagonist; in his situation, I would act in a similar way. A man I would never ever meet, in a few words, had made me discover something about myself that I had never known. I was hooked: I had to read more of this. Since that first taste, I have read many books that I would consider better than any of Graham Greene’s, but to this day he remains my favourite author.
You can tell how moving a film is by the amount of time it takes people to start talking again after it has finished. I sat silent for a full minute as the credits rolled. Every preconception I had held about old movies had been swept away. At the end of the lesson I hung back to speak to Mr. Jones. “That was incredible, Sir.”
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The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern The Night Circus Book Review, Tristan, HMP & YOI Doncaster, First-time Entrant Award for Creative Response “The Circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it… it is simply there, when yesterday it was not.” Le Cirque des Rêves (The Circus of Dreams) is a magical place. Imagine the most mystifying, wondrous circus you could want to go to, where things that seem impossible happen every moment that you are there, a world of tents and narrow walkways where patrons can lose themselves, and maybe even their minds. I guarantee that your circus will not be half the place that Erin Morgenstern has conjured up. Hers is a place where all those associated with the circus, from those that conceived it to the performers, never seem to age. It opens at nightfall and closes at dawn. In the entrance courtyard there is a clock that changes colour and shape throughout each day. It starts as a white clock face and, over time, turns into the night’s sky. Then it becomes a dreamscape, with figures playing out dreams, before slowly turning back into a clock face. There are fortune tellers, contortionists, acrobats, trapeze artists and aerialists that perform with no nets. There is a hall of mirrors, a tent with bottles containing different smells that evoke different
Dreamzzz, Steven, HMP & YOI Forest Bank, The Swain & Co Commended Award for Theme: Dreams
emotions and so much more. This circus has been conceived and made a reality not for the pleasure of the punters, but for reasons that are darker and more sinister. Two magicians have been playing a game for many lifetimes, a game that will play out once and for all through the very existence of the circus. From the moment I picked this book up and started reading, I was transported outside these prison walls to a place that logically couldn’t exist, but that the author
makes seem so real you can almost reach out and touch it. It is a roller-coaster a ride, nighon impossible to get off that features a mystical duel to what must be the death, a love story and a host of the most colourful characters you could ever hope to encounter on any journey. Since I read the book, it has sat in House Block 2 Library gathering dust. This is a travesty as no book this good should be left unread!
Remember, at Not Shut Up we love book reviews as much as we love books themselves, so do send them in for us to publish. And remember the English PEN annual creative writing competition is open not only to stories and poems, but reviews too. See page 20 for more information. Writing insightful reviews can not only help get your other writing published, it can win you awards! Creative writing always starts with creative reading – book and art reviews are a wonderful combination of the two, so write to us at: BCM NOT SHUT UP, PO Box 12, London WC1N 3XX Freepost RRXA-AHGR-ZCZL
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Koestler Platinum Award-winning Stage Play
Released - Scene 4 An extract from a Koestler award-winning stage play, chosen for us by Holly Hopkins, the Koestler Trust Literature Officer. Phil on mobile phone just off stage: Yeah, thanks for that, Leah, that’s such a relief. I really appreciate it. What, this Saturday morning too? That’ll be all right, tell her I’ll meet her at the same place. Bye, then thanks again, bye. In the kitchen. Red case open on the kitchen table. Phil: Hi, sweetheart. Joanna: Hi, Katie wants you to go up and say goodnight, you’re too late for Jack, he’s sound. Phil: I would have put them to bed. I wanted to take them up, I said I would. Joanna: You’ve been on the phone forty-two minutes, Phil, their bedtime routine is important. They couldn’t wait for you. Phil: The phone call was important. Joanna: More important than putting your kids to bed?
Phil: I’m going up to say goodnight to Katie. I’ll look in on Jack too. Joanna: Don’t wake him. Phil goes off stage. Joanna carefully takes out each baby item from the case, smells them individually and places them one at a time in the sink. She ﬁlls a basin with soapy water and individually starts to wash each item. Phil enters. Phil: Jack is beautiful when he’s asleep, so angelic looking. Katie’s nearly gone over now. Is that baby stuff? You didn’t get it down did you? I said I’d get it. Joanna: You said you’d do a few things recently that haven’t happened. I waited two weeks for you to get it. Juliette got it Saturday, while you were busy. Phil: Oh. Joanna: We need to get everything ready Phil, this little one won’t wait forever. Mum’s taking Juliette and I out on Saturday to get our hair and nails done, I can’t wait. Pampered, then lunch and she said she’ll get some more stuff for the baby if we need it, so I need to see what we could still do with. Phil: Do we still need stuff? I’ll get it. Joanna: No, mum wants to, we’ll need our money. Phil: Saturday, what time? Joanna: Ten. I told you. Phil: Ten, oh. Are you taking the kids? Joanna: For a pamper session? Seriously? Phil: Oh it’s just... Joanna: What? It’s just what Phil? Phil: It’s just I’ve arranged to see Jane again, for breakfast. Joanna: You’ve done what? Please tell me you are joking. We agreed it was only a one-off. Phil: No, she doesn’t have anyone else, Jo. You know that.
Only In My Dreams, Anon., Isle of Man Prison, Theme: Dreams
Joanna: You’ll have to unarrange it then.
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PICTURES OF THE MIND 1. Anon., The Willows, Gold Award for Drawing
Phil: I can’t let her down. Joanna: But you can let me down. This has been arranged for weeks. I told you weeks ago. Phil: Don’t they have a creche? Joanna: You didn’t just say that, did you. Long Pause. Joanna: I am going out with my mum and my sister on Saturday. You are having the kids. Cancel your sister. Phil: Ok. you go, I’ll take the kids with me. She’ll want to see them. Joanna: You are not taking my kids anywhere near that monster. Cancel your bloody sister. Phil: She’s not a monster, she’s my sister and they are my kids too.
Joanna: No. No chance of that. What planet are you living on? We have our own family, Phil. Your priority should be the kids and me. Not her. Especially not now. Phil: It is. My priority is the kids and you. Can’t you imagine having nobody? Having lost everybody and everything? She has no one, Jo, no one. Joanna: She only has herself to blame for that. She didn’t have to come back here, could have moved anywhere in the country. Phil: Let’s not argue about this. Beat What are we going to do about Saturday? Joanna: What are you going to do about Saturday, Phil? I know exactly what I’m doing.
Joanna: Ok, you are not taking our kids anywhere near your sister. Cancel her. Is that clear?
End of Scene 4
Phil: If you would only meet her you would see she was not a monster.
Released, Anon., HMP & YOI Askham Grange, Catherine Johnson Award for Artistic Ambition and Platinum Award for Stage Play
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The Silver Locket John, HMP Brixton, Gold Award for Poem
I found a silver locket on the post box: The postman must have saved it from the post. The young girl must have posted it in anger; The postman must have saved it from the post.
Last Days of Steam, Frederick, HMP Woodhill, Cullinan Silver Award for Watercolour which includes buildings
I found a silver locket on the post box: The lover must have given it with longing, The young girl must have posted it in anger; The postman must have saved it from the post. The mother must have passed it down with pride. The lover must have given it with longing, The young girl must have posted it in anger; The postman must have saved it from the post.
How to Write a Villanelle
I found a silver locket on the post box: The husband must have chosen it with care. The mother must have passed it down with pride. The lover must have given it with longing, The young girl must have posted it in anger; The postman must have saved it from the post.
Anon., HMP Liverpool, Gold Award for Poem
The jeweller must have crafted it with genius. The husband must have chosen it with care. The mother must have passed it down with pride. The lover must have given it with longing, The young girl must have posted it in anger; The postman must have saved it from the post.
The method is a mere bagatelle! One verse of four lines after five with three. It’s not that hard to write a villanelle.
I found a silver locket on the post box: I picked it up. The chain was broken.
It’s not that hard to write a villanelle just follow these instructions carefully. Alas, these days, this format doesn’t sell.
In nineteen lines a story you must tell, with a simple rhyme scheme (used repeatedly). Alas, these days, this format doesn’t sell. The ‘canon’ have it covered fairly well. (See Auden, Thomas, Bishop and Heaney). It’s not that hard to write a villanelle. As long as you can rhyme and count and spell, success comes with a cast iron guarantee. Alas, these days, this format doesn’t sell. So try and you may find that you excel, though it won’t lift you out of poverty. It’s not that hard to write a villanelle. Alas, these days, this format doesn’t sell.
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Three Centos for Emily Dickinson From the collection Have You Seen This Woman?, Christopher, HMP Swaleside (Sheppey Cluster), Silver Award for Poetry Collection
1) Taken from men this morning: one crown that no one seeks. 2) Exultation is the going make me a picture of the sun. I cried at Pity not at Pain – like eyes that looked on wastes. You’ll find it when you try to Die.
Unconditional Ryan, Tottenham Probation Service, Silver Award for Poem
You don’t like what I did I hate what I am She loves who I can be. You’re scared and offended I cry for your pain She lifts me to heaven.
Without a Smile without a Throe – I am afraid to own a Body. The Beggar at the door for fame – her losses make our Gains ashamed. 3) That odd old man is dead a year – he went by sleep that drowsy route – as children bid the guest good night, not knowing when the dawn will come. Knock... with tremor – sown in dishonour.
You resent and bad mouth I cut and self harm She heals my heartache. You are unrelenting I am unforgiving She is unconditional. You will never love me I cannot love me She has always loved me.
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Prisons of the Past
Lyrics by Joe Dolce
here is a theory that the modern prison system is a product of colonial history. Why would we choose to punish people today for wrongdoings by taking away their liberty? Why not make them pay with work or money, or inflict upon them the same crime as they perpetrated (eye for an eye), as in the very old days? Is it because a few hundred years ago, when the modern prison system was formed, wealthy corporations needed staff to run colonies in places such as America and Australia that no one wanted to risk sailing to and never coming back from? And the only way they could make men and women go to those ends of the Earth was by taking away their liberty and sentencing them to deportation?
Here are some wonderful lyrics from Joe Dolce, the artist interviewed earlier in our magazine. Joe has lived in both America and Australia and here writes about those earliest exiles from our society. How strange to think of those two continents as places where convicts once fought with native folk for the benefit of the rich, who owned their lives and got to keep all profits. Is the privatisation of modern prisons simply a continuation of that process? It is by studying the past that we can predict the future. And only by the power of storytelling can we grasp the true nature of our existence. By wrapping poetry in music we can reach millions of people, as Joe Dolce has done – be inspired by his example, write your own tales and send them in to us!
Black Caesar: The First Bushranger John Caesar fled to England from plantation slavery born in Madagascar or West Indies – it wasn’t clear tried and then convicted in Kent for petty theft shipped to the penal colony in New South Wales for seven years Caesar! Hail Caesar! Black Caesar was his name transported by the First Fleet in chains to Botany Bay escaped with just a musket from the jailer’s whip and rack come hear ye all Australians – the first bushranger was black Black Caesar plundered farms and huts on outskirts of the towns his frame was strong muscular well-calculated for hard work reputed to be the hardest living convict in the Crown five gallons of rum was offered by the Governor for his return
sly Caesar was indifferent about meeting his own death at the threat of hanging by the neck the convict merely scoffed he bragged he’d play a trick upon the executioner and create a laugh for all who watched before he was turned off
Now Pemulwuy an aboriginal of the Bidjigal clan attacked John Caesar and his crew one night in Botany Bay seven pellets of lead buckshot lodged in that warrior’s skull but Caesar only grazed him and Pemulwuy got away
John Wimbow and another man allured by the reward found his haunt and concealed themselves in brush behind a shed in the morning Caesar emerged but before he sensed the threat John Wimbow fired his musket there and shot the convict dead Caesar! Hail Caesar! Black Caesar was his name transported by the First Fleet in chains to Botany Bay escaped with just a musket from the jailer’s whip and rack come hear ye all Australians – the first bushranger was black.
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Poems And Lyrics
Transportation to America William Henry was caught stealing bread from a cart seven years he got transportation to America
Raven v Caterpillar, Anon., HMP Bure, Silver Award for Sculpture
for the crime of being poor he was shackled to the floor of an British man-o-war transportation to America many a shirtback was ripped for the cat-o-nine whip to the colonies they were shipped transportation to America
Moonlight in jail there is neither flower nor wine what is a poet to do when the night is so exquisite? from the window I gaze at the moonlight
there indentured as slaves many met early graves for the prison space theyâ€™d save transportation to America oh the sentence of gravest threat that a prisoner could expect short of hanging by the neck transportation to America during the Colonial War Mr John Hancock swore theyâ€™d be taking no more transportation to America
while through the bars the moon gazes back at me ~ by Ho Chi Minh ~ (translated by Joe Dolce)
where to put the convict waste? then Lord Sydney made his case New South Wales could replace transportation to America
Headcases, Anon., HMP Pentonville, Pat and Bill Gordon Bronze Award for Ceramics
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Koestler Award-winning Life Story
My Army Memoirs Daniel, HMP Perth, Gold Award for Life Story
e had been in an observation position on the Kuwait and Iraq border for a whole week, our job to keep our eyes peeled and note down any activities in this particular area. It wasnâ€™t an exciting task, but it was very important. We were on radio silence routine, so the days and nights went on and on with nothing happening. Then, out of the blue, the radio started speaking to us again. The message was that we had to get our personal stuff and kit together, along with all our reporting cards, and any other information we had. We were then to make our way to a Landing Zone or LZ, roughly six km south east of our current position. Once there, a very short briefing informed us that we were to board two helicopters which would take us to a
Brothers in Arms, Stephen, HMP Grendon, Bronze Award for Painting
medical centre location, where we were to receive a course of various injections, along with instructions on when to start our Nerve Agent Pre-treatment Start tablets, or NAPS pills as we knew them. Then, there would be air transport to take us back to our last positions. We got a rough idea that we were away to see Dr Death, by the fact that we had to take our NAPS tablets to build up your immune system against a nerve agent. So, this meant putting a nerve agent into your body, by means of a tablet and also injection. I remember being on the helicopter flight for about 45 minutes, then descending into what looked like the middle of nowhere. There were just two marquees sat side by side, and this long, long line of soldiers, just waiting to just go in the front. At the back of the marquees
there was a small heliport waiting, collecting the soldiers coming out and herding them on to more helicopters. On this particular day, it was blowing a mighty sand storm, so it was a bit of a struggle to keep things in order. Once I reached the entrance of the first marquee, I gave them my name and number, and was then handed my medical book. There were several injection stations all the way through these marquees. The first station was for the injections against bubonic plague, the next was for a nerve agent, which was called AZ and BZ mustard agent. This particular nerve agent was absolutely lethal, and this was the one Saddam Hussein was expected to use. Then we went on to the third station, where we received injections against another two chemical agents, and then on to the fourth and the
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fifth stations for more injections. It seemed that it was all over in seconds and then we were all back on the helicopter. We were all instructed to start taking our NAPS tablets every six hours, and before we knew it we were back on foot, making our way to our observation positions. When my section reached our observation position, we all felt very sick, and confused. We were unsure about what had just happened, and didn’t know where we were. I started to feel very thirsty and the next thing I remember is waking up slowly. When I woke up, to my disbelief, this foam-like substance was coming out of my mouth. The stuff looked a bit like the expanding foam you use in building work. I had to prize it off my face and body as it had gone all hard. I felt really ill, and to my disbelief the other soldiers in my section were all suffering from the same thing. We all felt very ill, and we had little water to drink and it made matters worse, we had all experienced diarrhoea whilst we had been knocked out unconscious. This all lasted for days, until we eventually got control of our bodies and used to the effects of all these nerve agents and injections. We were still taking our NAPS tablets when we discovered that we had been knocked out for three days. We had continued with all of this punishment for months, until we were ready to come home. After I returned to England, I noticed that there were strange things happening to my body. I was rapidly starting to lose my hair, and started developing lumps all over that have never been explained. After numerous trips to the doctor, and never getting any answers or information from official sources, we are left just having to live with what we have. This is because no-one wants to recognise, or admit to the fact that the injections we received caused us problems, both physically and psychologically. The fact is that we now have to live with the consequences of those experiments, on a day to day basis, for the rest of our lives.
Extra time with penalties Paul, HMP Kennet, Platinum Award for Life Story
ay 1974, in downtown Moscow... Well, you might have thought that’s where we were, looking at the drab council estate in North Liverpool called Norris Green. In places it looked like radical Communist groups had been having pitch battles with the long-haired, flared-trouser wearing militia Scouse faction. It was battle scarred in places, but in some far-off corner was a rainbow of hope that shone for half the masses – Liverpool Football Club and, in particular, Bill Shankly. This was my hometown, where my roots were down and the place that would shape, mould and knock me into the person I am today. I was almost five years old at this time, sitting watching my Mum put the Liverpool Echo’s huge broadsheet pull-out section into our front living room window. I couldn’t make out what it said from inside the house, so I went into the front garden by the rows of red rose bushes that line the path and border in front of the window and gazed up to read “Come on you Reds – Good Luck Liverpool”. I looked into next door’s garden and noticed they had the same sign, but with red and white crepe paper strips which had been twisted to decorate the inside of the window frame. It didn’t look that good, as their net curtains seemed dirty and had the hue of offwhite chewing gum. I compared our gleaming, vinegar-smelling pristine window to our neighbours’ and was filled with delight as ours looked far superior. The huge rosettes with massive silver FA Cups on either side of the Echo pull-out made ours look great. It was FA Cup Final day and Liverpool were playing Newcastle United. Mum began to tell me that Stephen and Robert, my two older brothers, had gone to the match and we could watch it on the telly in a while. My nearly-five-year-old-brain started to engage in weird and magical thoughts as mum switched on the huge D.E.R four-legged set. “So, they’re in the telly… now?” “No, not yet, they should be there in about an hour.” This got me thinking, so I went round the back of the box and started trying to figure out how my brothers would get in it, amazed and intrigued. “They’re gonna be on that screen in an hour?” “Yeah,” replied Mum, as she began to clean the living room with the upright Hoover. I stood frowning at the cable coming from the telly, my mind having shrunk my brothers to Lewis Carroll-esque scale. Somehow, I pictured a microscopic coach travelling down the cable with thousands of other Liverpool supporters doing the same thing. I told Mum that it truly baffled me, but she thought it funny and mentioned it to my Dad when he came into the living room. They both had me at it, asking me every five minutes where I thought my brothers would be. Inevitably, I would be guessing the position of my shrunken-to-a-speck-of-dust-sized brothers by pointing ever so nearer the cable going into the back of the telly. I really believed my brothers were in the cable somehow, to my parents’ delight. I was glued to the screen for five or six hours trying to catch a glimpse of them every time the spectators came onto the bulbous TV screen, but to no avail. That was my first experience of a family occasion, so the 3-0 victory was the icing on the cake. It gave me the football bug, like somebody had injected me with everlasting passion, and I love it to this very day.
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Not Shut Up Academy
la Biennale di Venezia Lucy: As you walk into the entrance of the Brooklyn Museum on Eastern Parkway you can be forgiven for initially overlooking Ai Weiwei’s S.A.C.R.E.D. installation of 6 large black iron boxes set beside the looming pillars of the lobby. But after viewing the exhibition ‘According to What?’ here on the 4th and 5th floors you are directed to this and another piece ‘Stacked’ in the public arena. Whilst heading for the stacked bicycle sculpture you notice people peering into these boxes as though through a window; and, sure enough, on closer examination, you see you can step up to letterbox openings through which you can witness in the boxes’ interiors the fibreglass reconstructions of some of Ai’s most intimate moments with his two vigilant guards during his 81 day incarceration in 2011. They watch while he eats, sleeps, urinates and thinks. They interrogate him and they relax with him. Here we share the intimacy with them as if we were also a guard, or a voyeur. The scale, although slightly smaller than life-size, appears as large as life from the perspective of the windows. This piece was his first of many responses to his incarceration – he has since had the scenes re-enacted on film, in theatrical performance, carved in stone, marble and wood - and was shown at the 2013 Venice Biennale. Over to Eve! Eve: S.A.C.R.E.D, presented at the Sant’Antonin church, was composed of six parts: (i) Supper, (ii) Accusers, (iii) Cleansing, (iv) Ritual, (v) Entropy, and (vi) Doubt. This landmark work comprises six large iron boxes with small apertures - such as those found in the door of a cell - through which the viewer must peer to see the dioramas contained within. Each diorama includes large hyper-realist models of the artist and his captors, and documents in painstaking, unflinching detail the different stages of Ai Weiwei’s time in incarceration. From the moment he is first led into his cell, to periods of interrogation, to him sleeping, to even those instances when he was forced to use the toilet or wash naked
THE ARTIST IN REFLECTION: by Lucy Edkins & Eve McDougall under the gaze of his captors, no aspect of Ai Weiwei’s life in prison is left unexplored. The artist’s unflinching willingness to reveal the most intimate and painful moments of his captivity underscores the relentless assault on personal dignity and freedom that he and many others have suffered, and continue to suffer, at the hands of the authorities in China and in other countries worldwide who seek to constrain freedom of expression with force. When I saw this exhibition in Venice it hit me hard in the heart, standing at the entrance of the church looking down on these big iron containers totally blew my mind, thoughts and feelings, deep imbedded emotions were running riot. I was stuck to the floor staring at them, and in a church this was brilliant – “When you visit a prison, you visit God”, I quote that from the Archbishop of York John Santamu, words that rolled round in my thoughts at that very second. I finally stepped down the few stairs, a shiver running down my spine, the hairs on the back of my neck stood up as I got to the first container. I looked round the containers seven times, it was a sickening feeling I could identify with, some of it happened to me through my own incarceration as a child. I had a screw with me every where I went, stood at the toilet, watched me wash, spying through the spy hole every hour of the day and night. I am so glad I saw this exhibition and I bow to Ai Wei Wei.
The word Sacred for me is so inspired by Ai, this is my version (Scared A Child Repeatedly Enough Don’t) and this is a wee poem I wrote:
WHO’S WHO To the ones who were before Who had the guts to open the door For the ones of injustice Let the light shine through. Our leading examples Haven’t got a clue They don’t know me and they don’t know you. Our lights shine through For the ones who are due Our lights shine true Our lights shine through. By Eve McDougall
Lucy: Back in Brooklyn, on the upper floors highlights include a gallery dedicated to ‘Ye Haiyan’s belongings’, piled in the middle of the room as they were piled on the road out of town when she was expelled with her family by the Chinese authorities for supporting the rights of sex workers who were routinely contracting HIV. Ai photographed each item and printed the photographs onto a wallpaper which papers the room.
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OUT OF THE BOX By Eve McDougall
Ai Weiwei (Chinese, b. 1957). Ritual (detail), 2011-2013. From the work S.A.C.R.E.D., 2011/13. One of six dioramas in fiberglass and iron, 148 3/8 x 78 x 60 1/5 in. (377 x 198 x 153 cm). Courtesy of Ai Weiwei Studio. © Ai Weiwei
In “Straight (2008-12)”, we see a room full of rebar taken from the site of the earthquake which killed thousands, meticulously straightened as though it never happened. Along the wall, with stubborn tenacity, Ai refuses to allow the world to forget the quake’s victims, printing the names of all the children who died in their shoddily built schoolhouses, whilst an audio tape of different children reciting all the names plays. In another gallery, “Snake Ceiling (2009)”, a huge patterned snake
curls across the ceiling, made of children’s backpacks similar to those found in the rubble, whilst in the corner a guard stands extremely close to a large ceramic vessel containing thousands of precious pearls, the semblance of value diminished here by the quantity. Although much of Ai’s work is self referential, there is no doubt that his quiet activism holds his captors to ridicule and attracts a huge international following.
DrugFAM and Stephen Friedman Gallery presented a moving exhibition of 200 works submitted to a competition by prisoners from across the UK. Organised by the charity DrugFAM, which supports the families, friends and careers of loved ones suffering from addiction, the competition required entrants to convey the impact that they felt drugs and alcohol had on them and in particular on their family and friends. Through an array of mediums, from prose and poetry, to painting and sculpture, the competition produced some outstanding and thought provoking works. This exhibition for me was so powerful full of truth and honesty on the effects that drugs and alcohol played in their lives and the families an friends. I looked around not once but thrice, a tear came to my eye for the Ones who had passed away, a wee smile for the ones who made it and produced these amazing works of art, the depth of their emotions thoughts and feelings, the bare-naked truth of their mind bodies and souls and the visible effects in the works, the works that had been in a box for six months had now been given this amazing opportunity to hang on the walls and sit on plinths in this amazing space in the heart of London for one night. See overleaf for more works from this amazing event.
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DrugFAM provide a lifeline of safe, caring and professional support to families, friends and carers who are struggling to cope with the nightmare of a loved oneâ€™s addiction. Through a range of services, they give families the strength to break free from the cycle of addiction and rebuild their lives. You can call them on 01494 442 777 or 0845 388 3853, email via email@example.com or send a text to 07725 908 399
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Not Shut Up Academy
Self Portrait 1975-76, Anon., HMP Wakefield, Ariane Bankes Platinum Award for Portraits
ne of the things that occurs frequently in folklore rituals is fire. Fire has a magic that few other things can match. With summer ending and autumn approaching, the season of bonfires is almost upon us. And it’s not just Guy Fawkes Night. That is a relatively recent arrival (only 400 years ago), but now firmly entrenched in our folklore tradition and so popular that it’s unlikely to die out anytime soon. Britain is the home of many ancient fire festivals. Some were banned by those killjoy Puritans in the 17th century and have never been revived. Beltaine, the old pagan spring festival which fell on 1st May, was more-or-less stamped out. It was the time when fires were lit at dawn all over the country to drive away evil spirits that might have lingered from winter and make the fields safe for livestock. The bonfires of Samhain, another pre-Christian festival celebrated at what we now call Hallowe’en, have somehow survived – maybe from the necessity of burning dead wood and leaves to keep the countryside tidy. It was traditionally a time when surplus cattle were slaughtered before winter because grazing had finished and feed was in short supply, and to provide
The Folklore of Fire by Cliff Hughes
meat for the long cold days to come. The selected animals would be driven through the smoke of bonfires to purify them and make them acceptable in what is probably a reflection of pagan sacrifice, for the gods and spirits of the underworld came amongst us at this time. The practice survived until the end of the 19th century and, in some places, for a little time after that. Today, there are many hundreds of bonfire societies up and down the country, active between October and January, whose members process in exotic costumes, carrying flaming torches, rolling burning tar-barrels through the streets and gathering at public parks and village greens to set fire to huge heaps of wood. Most popular of all is 5th November when Guy Fawkes, the fall-guy (ha ha) for the gunpowder plot, is burnt in effigy to the accompaniment of a firework display. In Lerwick in the Shetland Isles on the last Tuesday of January, to mark the end of the Christmas period (which lasts twice as long there as in the rest of the country), a spectacular fire festival takes place. It’s called Up-Helly-Aa and features a fullsize viking longship which is dragged through the streets and culminates in its
Cliff Hughes was born in Sussex in 1956. His family emigrated to New Zealand when he was a baby and he went to school there, returning to England when he was eleven. He got involved with poetry and other forms of writing through Koestler and Not Shut Up, after a spell in prison. Cliff has lived alone in London since 2013, after a thirty year experimental cohabitation with humans finally proved unsuccessful.
destruction by fire. After the procession, at a given signal, a squad of men dressed as Vikings throw their burning torches into the ship which immediately bursts into flames. But no one now seems quite sure (or at least no one is saying) whether this is to celebrate the Shetlanders’ freedom from 600 years of Viking rule or to reinforce and commemorate their Viking heritage. Fire fascinates us with its magical power. Fire-ships destroyed the Spanish Armada and saved us from invasion; fire forged swords and fashioned the arrowheads that won the Battle of Agincourt. Who hasn’t stared into the flames of a campfire or logs burning in the hearth of a country pub until they are just glowing red embers, encouraging us to tell ghost stories and repeat urban legends? More than language or tools – both of which other species use to some degree – it is our possession and control of fire that really separates us from the animals. It’s what drove the industrial revolution, powered our engines, smelted metals, cleared forests, kept dangerous predators at bay, transformed flour and water into bread, chemically altered and tenderised meat that would otherwise have been inedible. Therefore, it’s hardly surprising that fire acquired a mystical significance, and harnessing its power in prehistory is undoubtedly what made us the dominant life-form on Earth. So, every time there is an occasion that calls for celebration, what could be more natural than to light a bonfire and set off some fireworks?
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Prison life on stage Jean Marc Mahy – A Man Standing
n our summer issue, we featured an interview with Belgian writer and performer, Jean Marc Mahy, whose autobiographical play about his experience of being a teenager held in solitary confinement has been translated into English. The play is now coming to London, and will be performed on the 21st of November at the Rich Mix Centre. Jean Marc himself will play the lead role, as he has done on more than 200 occasions in Belgium, France and Holland. “Delinquency isn’t born from nowhere. It is often the result of social circumstances and a lack of person’s place in society. A Man Standing communicates the shock of a young person whose search for himself is translated into violence. This play is built of a succession of realistic moments spent in prison, and does not intend to impose on the audience a moral lecture. Instead, it allows them to share in the direct experience of confinement and thus to examine their conscience and their imagination. The performance always ends with a meeting between the audience and the author/actor, allowing questions to be asked and conclusions to be drawn.” The play always starts with a bare stage, onto which Jean Marc enters with a roll of white gaffer tape. He then marks out the shape of the cell on the black floor, and the play begins. The following extract is taken from the middle of the play, past the point where the central character is involved in a crime and a prison escape, both of which result in people dying, and takes us into the hell hole that is solitary confinement.
“Arrival at Schrazig” What was it he said? That there is a guy in the hospital? Damn, I got three vans just for me. Anyway, I made them race after me, no? Not for long, but I made them run. What is waiting there for me? Where are we? It’s night, we are in the countryside. There are no houses... What’s that over there? Hard to see from the prison van. It looks like a factory... But what is it? A massive chimney, or a tower. It looks like a monster, huge... No way of escaping from there... What are all those cars doing? There are cameras everywhere! Who are those six guys in white, they came for me, I’m sure... - Hey! Listen to me when I talk to you! - Yes, yes, OK chief. - It is you who shot the policeman? - But I don’t know anything about it! - You’ll know that tomorrow in the newspapers. Go on. Move over there... - What do I have to do? - Get undressed! Strip ! Hurry up. Put all your things in the white trash bag. Come on, move on man... Take off your watch, your bracelet... Put them in the brown envelope over there. I see a sign up on a wall: “You come in like a lion, but you go out like a sheep.” - Here, here! Follow us. Get in... One word here, you asshole, and we’ll break you! Got it? Another sign up: “You’ll find it all in here – all except help.”
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although it was crystal clear that you couldn’t hide anything. All this is done in order to humiliate you, to break you. In three years, I only saw the sky twice. Even to go to exercise yard, they strip you on the way there and back. But you know, the big difference between maximum security and solitary confinement is that in the maximum security sections the guards beat the prisoners. And because the prisoners made complaints, far too often, they then invented the segregation units. Now, the big difference here is that they don’t hit you. They don’t need too, because they know it is you who are going to hurt yourself. The first step in this is madness. The second is that you program your own death. Isolation is the torture of the senses, the white torture, the guillotine of modern times.
But who are these people? Are they mad or something? The walls are all white. It looks like a hospital. I don’t like it. I don’t like the whiteness of these walls. It frightens me. There are bars everywhere... even on the skylight... I feel like a beast, but I’m not an animal, not me. Why did he tell me there was a man in the hospital? It’s not possible. Maybe it’s Yvo, he didn’t follow us... (sound of prison officers knocking on the door and laughing) They are making jokes about me. Don’t react, they’re making fun of me. Don’t react, because that’s what they are waiting for... sleep.
“First meal” - Mahy, your bowl! - Thanks, chief. But he pours all the coffee on the floor! Are they crazy or what! It hasn’t stopped since yesterday. What’s wrong with them ? And I don’t even have anything to clean it up with... - You see, Jean-Marc, you’re in the hole with the big boys now... You’ll have to hold on. Courage! - Courage? - Against the wall, spread your legs, spread! The first year, they will do this five times a day. Five times a day they will enter my cell. Five times a day I’ll have to spread my legs. Five times a day I’ll have to undress. Five times a day they’ll throw everything on the floor. You get conditioned, because you understand very quickly that solitary is not like a normal prison, it is a prison within a prison. You are locked away from everything... They will do everything they can to make you go insane. Each time I left my cell, I had to strip five times, and get dressed five times,
The second year is the year of humiliation. You become conditioned. You become a cockroach that can be crushed under the impact of a heel. What really helped me was reading. I persevered to acquire knowledge through books. I was allowed to have ten books a week. Five books on Tuesday and five books on Thursday. And often, the five books on Thursday were the same as the ones on Tuesday. I read what was imposed on me. That’s how I discovered German art and culture during World War II, or the 150 years of French colonization of Algeria, prior to its independence. A book like Papillon, 672 pages, I read it six times, (although I never was able to watch the movie with Steve McQueen right until the end). Reading became my metronome. It worked like a watch. We had no right to have a watch. I knew that after reading 60 pages, an hour had elapsed. Yet it was the third year that was to become the most difficult. I call it the Year of Oblivion. It’s like a Hell’s Kitchen, it’s all black, like here. And in that kitchen only one dish is prepared, the dish of the last chance. There is a recipe with two ingredients: first, to become forgotten. This took me two years. The second: make yourself invisible. And I became invisible. It happened often that from Monday until Sunday, the door of my cell wasn’t opened once... that I didn’t even see one human being. All I saw was the hatch being lowered three times a day, and the hand of the guard who pushed in the food. At some point, you have no more anger. You put it at the bottom and it’s no longer there. I would have preferred it if they came to search my cell five times a day. There was a little bit of violence then, but at least there was life.
If you can, we hope you will join us in seeing A Man Standing and meeting the author in November. If not, but you would like to experience this astoundingly powerful piece of theatre, contact us about bringing the show to you, wherever you may be...
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Art organisations worth knowing about Here is a list of organisations working all across the UK with those who are or have been in custody – if there is anyone we have missed out, let us know!
Arts Alliance is a coalition of artists, arts and Criminal Justice Sector organisations and individuals who work with prisoners, those on probation and ex-offenders in the community, promoting the power of the arts in transforming lives. Arts Alliance, 59 Carter Lane, London EC4V 5AQ Clean Break is a theatre company with an independent education programme, which uses theatre for personal and political change, working with women whose lives have been affected by the criminal justice system. Clean Break, 2 Patshull Road, London NW5 2LB English PEN is the founding centre of a worldwide writers’ association with 145 centres in more than 100 countries. They campaign to defend writers and readers in the UK and around the world whose human right to freedom of expression is at risk. English PEN, Free Word Centre, 60 Farringdon Road, London EC1R 3GA Fine Cell Work is a Registered Charity that teaches needlework to prison inmates and sells their products. The prisoners do the work when they are locked in their cells, and the earnings give them hope, skills and independence. Fine Cell Work, 38 Buckingham Palace Road, London SW1W 0RE Inside Job Productions is a unique new non-profit multi-media production company which works with women prisoners to produce highly professional video, print and multimedia products with a social purpose. Inside Job Productions, 16 Hoxton Square, London N1 6NT Koestler Trust are the UK’s best-known prison arts charity. They have been awarding, exhibiting and selling artworks by offenders, detainees and secure patients for 50 years.
Koestler Arts Centre, 168a Du Cane Road, London W12 0TX Prisoners’ Penfriends was formed to build on the prisoner-penpal scheme created by the Prison Reform Trust. It is approved by the Prison Service and provides a confidential forwarding service, with guidelines, training and advice. Penfriends, PO box 33460, London SW18 5YB The Prison Arts Foundation aims to release the creative self of all prisoners, ex-prisoners, young offenders and ex-young offenders in Northern Ireland using all of the arts and crafts including writing, drama, fine art, craft, music and dance. Prison Arts Foundation, Unit 3 Clanmil Arts & Business Centre, Northern Whig Building, 2-10 Bridge Street, Belfast BT1 1LU The Prison Radio Association is an award winning education charity that provides support, guidance and expertise to existing prison radio stations and advises prisons interested in setting up radio stations and radio training facilities. Prison Radio Association, HMP Brixton, Jebb Avenue, London SW2 5XF
Synergy Theatre Project, established in 1999, works towards rehabilitation with prisoners and ex-prisoners through theatre and related activities. Synergy Theatre Project, 8 St Thomas Street, London SE1 9RR
NOT SHUT UP Equalities and Inclusion Policy NOT SHUT UP encourages and supports anyone who has experienced incarceration and wants to express their creativity through literature and other forms of art. We understand that “difference” and “otherness” is a daily reality for those behind bars and we are committed to addressing issues of prejudice and discrimination in relation to gender and gender identity, sexual preference, disability, partnership status, race, nationality, ethnic origin, political or religious faith, age or socio-economic class of individuals and groups.
The Reader Organisation shared reading groups contribute to long-term, sustainable changes to prison reform, offender rehabilitation and offender prevention. The Reader Organisation, The Friary Centre, Bute Street, Liverpool L5 3LA
NOT SHUT UP is an artist-led organisation – those involved in it have often had direct experience of prisons and understand the range of challenges and inequalities faced by those we work with: reduced access to education and the arts, high levels of psychoemotional illness and low levels of physical fitness and well-being, social and cultural exclusion and others. We see the arts as essential in helping both artists and audiences understand and celebrate the notion of a thriving, diverse and modern society.
Storybook Dads is a registered charity based in Dartmoor Prison. Their aim is to maintain family ties and facilitate learning for prisoners and their children through the provision of story CDs. Storybook Dads, HMP Dartmoor, Princetown, Yelverton, Devon PL20 6RR
NOT SHUT UP keeps its policies and procedures under continual stakeholder review in order to ensure that the realities of discrimination, exclusion, oppression and alienation that may be an aspect of previous experience of its partners, as well as project participants, are addressed appropriately.
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Managing Editor: Marek Kazmierski Poetry Editor: Anna Robinson Art Editor: Matthew Meadows Creative Director: Phil Tristram Online Editor: Piers Barber Thanks to our Trustees: Kate Pullinger (Chair) Jane Wynn (Treasurer) Timothy Firmston Simon Kirwin Sarah Leipciger Sarah Mansell Simon Miles Annette Prandzioch Raphael Rowe Ella Simpson
NOT SHUT UP generates no income of its own and is produced solely through the generosity of Arts Council England and our patrons, which include: 29 May 1961 Trust Anton Jurgens Charitable Trust Authors’ Licensing & Collecting Society Batty Trust Bonus Trust City & Metropolitan Welfare Fund Coutts Charitable Trust David Hammond Charitable Foundation Eleanor Rathbone Charitable Trust English PEN Esmée Fairbairn Foundation Foyle Foundation Garden Court Garfield Weston Foundation Garrick Charitable Trust Harold Hyam Wingate Foundation
Jessie Spencer Trust J Paul Getty Jr. Charitable Trust Goldsmiths’ Company Lady Hind Trust Lankelly Chase Foundation Leigh Trust Mercer’s Company Michael Varah Memorial Fund Norda Trust Rathbones Royal London Society Sheriffs’ & Recorder’s Fund Sir James Roll Charitable Trust Swan Mountain Trust Topinambour Trust Tudor Trust
Not Shut Up is a registered charity (Charity No. 1090610) and a company limited by guarantee (registered in London No. 4260355).
Anyone interested in submitting work, volunteering or working as part of the Not Shut Up Academy, which works with in- and post- custody writers on developing their creative entrepreneurial skills, is invited to write in to us at the address below or contact us via our website.
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Not Shut Up Academy
o, your release date is approaching. Congratulate yourself for getting through your sentence in one piece. But what next? How will you cope with life ‘on the out’? For you (and me) life in the big wide world is all about rehab. Or like getting back to full fitness after an injury. You can’t do it in a hurry. It’s slow and painful, but you must never give up. I hate to say this, but do set your sights low. Hold on to your pride, but keep it inside. And be adaptable. I’ve been out for over a year now and still live in a single room, working part-time on a supermarket checkout. Not great, but it’s a start. If, like me, you’ve been abandoned by family and old friends, you will have to become self-reliant. Success or failure depends on your attitude. Remember: there is no ‘us’ and ‘them’. It’s all ‘us’. Be patient with everyone – don’t lose your rag. Be nice to people and they will be nice back. Eventually... When you leave prison, it’s too easy to to adopt the persona of ‘hard man’. You might see it as the only way to mask your vulnerability and loneliness, bewilderment and self-pity. So often, when tarred with the brush of ‘offender’ or ‘ex-con’, you might say: OK, if that’s what they think of me, that’s what I’ll be! But ask yourself – what it is that makes for real freedom? It’s not money or possessions or status or ‘reeespect’. What really cooks it is having someone who cares about you. This will take time and effort on your part, and it could be a friend, a charity-worker or a partner or, if you’re lucky, all three. But who’s going to care about someone who thinks he’s Vinny in Lock Stock’ or one of the Krays? All the practical things – where you will stay, how to get food, how to look for work, how to find out what benefits you’re entitled to and how to apply for them – must be done by you. No one will make your business their business. No one in officialdom is paid to care if you succeed or not. Everyone’s got their own worries, their own life to go back to at the end of the day.
Preparing for the
Big Day By Cliff Hughes
So, no matter that the lady in the job centre gives you a nice smile (unlikely, but it could happen) or the man at the DSS promises to ring you back, they don’t necessarily mean it. They’ve got a hundred other ‘cases’ to see before home time and they’re getting tired and hungry. When you search for accommodation or a job, the public library is a good place to start. Most libraries have job clubs. You can use the internet for free and if you don’t know how, one of the staff will show you. Join everything you can – reading groups, guitar workshops (they’ll have their own instruments), a gym if you can, volunteer at the food bank (they’ll feed you too) – because you need contacts and you need company. Join a place of worship. I mean it. It doesn’t matter if you’re not religious. People of faith love to help. It’s their remit. They’ve helped me time and time again when I had nowhere to stay, nothing to
eat, no clothes except somebody else’s cast-offs from the Oxfam shop. I even had a character reference from a pastor that helped me get my job. So what if you have to sing a few hymns once a week? You might even make some new pals. And believe me, you have to hang on to any friendly folk you meet. Call it “networking of the newly free” if you like. So, prepare properly for the Big Day – if necessary, act like a new person – because what works inside won’t cut it outside. Don’t feel inferior, because you’re not. History shows, given the right – or wrong – circumstances, anyone could go off the rails and end up inside. Don’t let knock-backs (and there will be many) get you down. Be determined and single-minded. Make new friends and stick with them. Enjoy your freedom, you’ve waited a long time for it. And if they let you out when you’re still down on your luck, go make some of your own!
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PHOTOGRAPHY BY AGATA CARDOSO & VAIVA KATINAITYTE
Chris Wilson’s RUIN
Not Shut Up is currently hard at work preparing its first book for publication – RUIN by Chris Wilson, a collection of his art works bound in cloth, printed in a limited edition of 100 hand-decorated copies. Chris has painted each cover by hand, assisted by photographers Agata Cardoso and designer Vaiva Katinaityte. More about the book and Chris’ art & writing in the winter issue of Not Shut Up.
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PHOTOGRAPHY: LUCIANA POLETTO
17 YEARS. 6,197 DAYS. 8,923,680 SECONDS...
A MAN STANDING
Directed by Belgian producer Jean-Michel Van den Eeyden, former prisoner Jean-Marc Mahy puts his own life in solitary confinement on stage. A Man Standing is a breathtaking message to end prisoner isolation. Performed in the original French, with English subtitles. Fri 21 November 7.30pm, Rich Mix Centre, 35-47 Bethnal Green Road, London, E1 6LA.
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Not Shut Up # 26 / Autumn 2014 Hello and welcome to another colourful edition of Not Shut Up, the national quarterly magazine devoted to vis...
Published on Oct 14, 2014
Not Shut Up # 26 / Autumn 2014 Hello and welcome to another colourful edition of Not Shut Up, the national quarterly magazine devoted to vis...