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Life writing


Snowdonia, by alou

by anonymous, HMP Full Sutton


uring my induction at HMP Full Sutton, I had the pleasure of meeting the writer in residence Gerry Ryan. She introduced me to her projects, groups and creative arts activities, so I submitted my apps and joined in with as much as possible. As part of the Prison Reading Group, we choose a book every month which is very kindly supplied by Roehampton University - home of the Prison Reading Groups organsiation. One such author we chose to read was Alistair Fruish, who is the writer in residence at HMP Leicester and the author of the cult hit book “Kiss My ASBO”. The organisation English PEN funded his visit and a set of books, and for both we are all very grateful. “Kiss My ASBO” is an interesting read in a very unusual genre (‘Grime Fiction’ as Alistair coins it). It follows the story of a young lad - who’s “Nuthampton bornunbred” - and who’s been spiked with an intelligence pill by his shady Uncle Vic. With unexpected, and often laugh out loud, results. The use of colloquial language throughout the book is what makes this novel really stand out and reading it

becomes something of a lyrical experience. It might not be for everyone - it takes work to tune into it, but tune into it you will, and it’s worth the effort. Alistair Fruish is a true wordsmith as well as a storyteller. During our discussion with Alistair we were stunned by his disclosure that he is dyslexic. Without a doubt a few people in that room were dyslexic, but we could never have imagined Alistair would be one of us. Suddenly a door opened for us all. Alistair told us when he found out (relatively late) he was dyslexic, rather than see it as some sort of disability or disadvantage he CHOSE to see it as “interesting”. He experimented with strategies - he learned to touch type, juggle, ride a unicycle. All of these, amazingly, helped him improve his

grasp on words and language. So he decided to become a writer. He gives himself rules and challenges when he writes to take his focus away from the anxiety of spelling, so for example he’s now writing a novel using only monosyllabic words. He crafts and crafts his work with, I reckon, way more attention to detail than the writers who might take the ability of chucking words and language on the page for granted. This is what takes his writing and creativity to a whole new level and this is how he inspired a roomful of cons back in January. Dyslexia doesn’t have to be a barrier, it can open a whole new door to creativity.

Dyslexia is a common learning difficulty that mainly affects the way people read and spell words. Dyslexia is a spectrum disorder, with symptoms ranging from mild to severe. People with dyslexia have particular difficulty with: phonological awareness, verbal memory, rapid serial naming and verbal processing speed. As well as national dyslexia charities, such as Dyslexia Action and the British Dyslexia Association (BDA), there are several local dyslexia associations (LDAs). These are independently registered charities that run workshops and help to provide local support and access to information.


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