Issue 22 / Spring 2013 ÂŁ3.50
Distributed free of charge to prisons and other secure establishments around the UK
up Writing & art by the unfree Fractured Faces / Garvey / acrylic on canvas
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Generocity / spray paint and marker pen on board / 2 x 10 metres
es, most Not Shut Up contributors are in prison, but not all. Others are in immigration removal centres, probation hostels, special hospitals, secure units and other forensic services settings – in other words, open and closed custodial settings across the UK’s criminal justice system. We want to pay more attention to these readers, and plan to feature their creative activities when we can. The Bracton Centre is a medium secure hospital based in Dartford, Kent, serving four local South East London boroughs. It caters for service users who have been in contact with the criminal justice system and experience mental ill health. The Centre has an Arts in Health initiative which started in 2010, its aim to encourage service users to take part in creative therapies - art, music, drama. A succession of projects since then has gained increasing numbers of Koestler Awards each year, and work by its Urban Art Group led by local urban artist Chris Millin during 2011 won three. Originally suggested by the sports instructor to brighten up the Sports Hall,
Graffiti project at the Bracton Centre this project involved 14 residents from two Bracton Centre wards. Chris Millin – supported by two of the centre’s occupational therapists – used music to inspire participants, and the lyrics of Bob Marley, Jimi Hendrix and Dizzee Rascal played an important part in the development of themes and ideas. The history of graffiti was introduced, going back to Roman times, and a distinction made between gang tags and a more positive expression. Group members learned to use marker pens and spray paints to develop personal messages as well as larger graffiti pieces, including “Freedom is a Must”, “Hope”, “Peace” and “Generocity”. One participant commented: “I appreciated these sessions very much.
Four or five weeks before, I couldn’t do any of this sort of thing. Chris has taught me how to do spraying and painting, using the templates. I find it very enjoyable and relaxing. I hope he comes back sometime soon.” Chris Millin himself said: “This was my first opportunity to work with those experiencing mental illness. I found highlights in the individual realizations that this really was an opportunity to take part in something big and bold and have the chance to say something that matters and that others would see. It was in seeing people who ‘didn’t do art’ create something that was as exciting to me as it seemed to be for them. We found some amazing talents and most got to express themselves beautifully.”
Freedom is a must / spray paint and marker pen on board / 2 x 10 metres
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What is Not Shut Up? “writing and art by the unfree”
Set up in 2003 with support from Arts Council England, NOT SHUT UP is a registered charity which, three times a year, publishes a professionally edited magazine of creative writing and visual art produced by inmates of prisons and other secure establishments around the UK. Started 10 years ago as a literary magazine representing several London jails, we are now the only publication representing art and creative writing produced in all 140 UK prisons, as well as secure hospitals, immigration centres and other similar institutions, delivering 7500 copies to almost 300 locations around the country. All of our trustees
are either artists or professionals working within the criminal justice system, or both; one of our trustees and some writers we have worked with have been prisoners themselves. We send writer/tutors into prisons to run workshops and work in close partnership with teachers and many other prison arts organisations. We hope to continue in our unique role representing all of the “unfree” across Britain, and increasingly abroad, involving work with organisations such as the Anne Frank Trust, PEN International, Koestler Trust, Southbank Centre and many others. marek Kazmierski / managing Editor
WHAT IS INSIDE?
“Eric looked at his watch: in fortyseven seconds she would be a minute late…” The Koestler Trust - Why prison art? / Eric’s story, Fiction
hosting from our resident MC Charlie Dark.” The Literary X-Factor! Interview With Joanne Donovan, Founder Of Story SLAm: Live
“During creative processes all are equal and free.” Ash Nugent, musician-inresidence - The role of rap in recovery
“Your compass is in an angry spin, and you’re running from the heroic centre of your life.” English PEN Readers & Writers programme / The Gates of Ytan
“I was born at the crack of dawn and fully grown by mid-morn…” Anna Robinson’s poetry pages
“You kept the brain thing a big secret from everyone. It was scary, but exciting at the same time…” Held back, Life Writing
“Madre di mi vida y de mi corazón. Pablo, I’m so sorry, when did he die?” Buried treasure Part 2, Fiction
“The shout “Man down!” from across open ground filled a new silence. Man down! One of the most chilling battlefield cries.” One woman, Fiction
“There was a sudden noise, a long, loud noise. It was so loud that it shook the bin, ricocheting off every surface.” A spot of bovva, Fiction
Gallery Pages Donald Grayson
“Assisting me in keeping a firm grip on terra firma…” Poetry Pages
“There ain’t enough ink for me to tell you all the wrongs that are on the way if you don’t take this letter seriously.” A letter to my younger self, Life Writing
“Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution: in this observer’s eyes, the old state hospital building (1910) looks much the same on the outside.” Anne Frank Center USA / PEN American Center, Prison Diaries Programme
“Our team combine to provide a quality experience with music & visuals from Rizomorph and the best of
“Wah yu say? Make sure you have my money or my package or do not float back on my acre.” Wrong choice, Writing For Screen & Stage
“We do have feelings and dreams, and they might all have been crushed, but we’re putting it all back together.” HmP Holloway Quilt Project / BirdWord
“The prison mail has arrived to tell the tale of those outside…” Poetry Pages
“By training those who have been “unfree” to understand publishing formats and sales processes, we will share their work with the wider world…” NSUP Academy, NSUP News
Art Organisations Worth Knowing About matthew meadows’ Art Pages
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Rap artist Ashleigh Nugent (aka Ash the Gent) works with a Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra team of three musicians and a choir leader on as musician-inresidence programme across Mersey Care. After more than two years in the role meeting a wide range of patients and service users, Ash describes his experiences and what motivates him to face instant creativity when he meets each new audience.
t may be one of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, Beethoven’s 5th symphony or one of the six suites by Bach performed solo on cello which sets the scene for a rap workshop. The resulting song will be born of a discussion, the topic of which may be: the power of positive thought, the empowering aspects of education or the true nature of love, power, freedom. Or maybe we will just write a simple lullaby to induce sweet dreams. All of the ideas will be generated within the minds of the patients and service users and manifest through their words and ideas. This award winning musician-inresidence programme is run by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Society and funded by Mersey Care and I am merely a
MUSICIAN IN RESIDENCE Ash on stage in Ashworth Hospital with cellist Georgina Aasgaard
The role of rap in recovery visiting rap artist, lucky enough to be asked to facilitate regular sessions as a guest at the units involved. Some health care professionals have told me that they would not choose to work in high secure units. I recently chaired a university debate where a couple of students claimed there are some crimes for which a person can never be redeemed, making them undeserving of cultural, educational and enriching experiences. One patient even asked: “Why would anyone want to do this stuff with us?” So what inspires me to do this work? The answer is simple: people, music and poetry. My love for writing and performing inspires me to do the work that I do, along with the awareness of the cathartic,
engaging and enlightening potential of rap. If you are struggling to hear rap and classical music blended in your imagination, just think of it as poetry – the boundary between the two can be almost imperceptible. Poetry and music transcend demographics, past experiences, states of health and states of mind. They appeal to something at the core of every person, an inner spark of the soul. I have never met anyone who didn’t respond favourably when this inner spark was appealed to appropriately. This is what art in whatever form can achieve. Creativity breaks through and beyond the façade which is laden upon that inner spark. During creative processes all are equal and free.
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Music & Rap
s visiting musicians we are never briefed on people’s backgrounds; we don’t need to know. It is not for us to discuss our audience’s individual circumstances, experiences or mental health conditions. Our job is to enlighten people to the power of the creativity that is innate within us all. Our job is to allow people to use that creativity as an expressive and cathartic outlet. Our job is to help people to become aware of the beauty of music and poetry, which lies in and all around them. On a practical level I strongly believe that we can, and have, encouraged people to study music and literature further and can help to create a calm and creative atmosphere which can, in turn, reduce reoffending or aid recovery. Those who attend our workshops are friendly, polite, astute, inquisitive, intelligent and creative. It is always a pleasure and an honour to do this work as everyone is entitled to creativity. Restricting creativity is akin to restricting exercise, fresh air or sunlight, and enough of that goes on already. We do not help society by adhering to retribution. The only way to create a loving, peaceful, creative world is to be loving, peaceful, creative people and thereby inspire the same in others. Feelings of marginalisation and stigmatisation in adolescence are what originally inspired me to use rap as an outlet, and to use it to work with others who may have similar feelings. The less liberal
minded are often quick to point out that many who have endured trauma in life do not become ill or violent. Everyone reacts to trauma differently. At the close of all our sessions, the song we have collectively written is always performed, often to a section of the music performed at the start. Choosing a particular song written during one of our sessions in secure units is challenging they are invariably beautiful and powerful. This is just one example:
The people in these places are sometimes repressed But we change like the tide that the sea has caressed On my own I’m stressed and depressed, but I’m blessed In my spirit, in my heart, in my mind, in my soul On my own, it’s my role to be whole and accept I’m as good as the rest, I can overcome The incarceration and not be struck numb CHORUS Freedom is a state of mind From inside for myself and for all mankind Freedom is a state of mind With the peace and serenity we all hope to find So when I feel down, I consider the goal, Freedom within and through my life as a whole Like a game of chess, making technical moves I believe in myself and I have nothing to prove I go with the flow like driftwood on the sea Or a pebble on the beach, let water shape me My religion, my culture, my sexuality It’s my choice to be ultimately free
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English PEN Readers & Writers Programme
English PEN Readers & Writers projects in prison With the generous support of the Monument Trust, Readers & Writers sends writers in to prisons across England. They work closely with prisons to create a bespoke workshop that works for the offenders. Once the workshop has been set up, they send the writer’s book in to the prison – so that everyone has a copy to own (and get signed) and use in the workshop. The visit will often involve a reading by the guest writer as well as a creative writing workshop.
nglish PEN send writers in for one-off visits as well as programme longer-term workshops. If your prison is interested in working with English PEN Readers & Writers, please contact Irene Garrow – the Readers & Writers Programme Officer - on irene@ englishpen.org or call 020 7324 2543.
Irene Garrow Interview Can you tell us about English PEN and its aims? English PEN is a charity which defends freedom of speech and promotes the freedom to read and write wherever and whoever you are. It campaigns for imprisoned writers abroad who have
been incarcerated for their writing and beliefs, supports the translation of writers and books in foreign languages and runs a Readers & Writers programme which brings writers, books and workshops to neglected communities all over the UK; schools, refugee centres, old people’s homes, detention centres and prisons. It has been sending books and writers into prisons in the UK for over 12 years. What is the Readers & Writers programme about? How did you become involved in working for PEN? I worked as a writer in prison in a cat B men’s prison for over four years. I ran poetry groups, rap sessions, book groups and a prison magazine working for the WIPN and Clive Hopwood. I used PEN to bring in Blake Morrison and Andrew O’Hagan which in turn enhanced the writing and reading taking place in the
groups I worked with. I could see how important bringing the outside world into prison could be, the positive effect on the community, the interest and learning that could take place almost by stealth and the sense that the prisoners’ self respect was also enhanced by the visits. Four years ago PEN had some funding to focus on the prison work and gave me the chance to increase the programme alongside huge support from programmes manager Philip Cowell and funding from the Monument Trust, the rest is history!! What are some of the initiatives you are working on now? We are always thinking of new initiatives, but we also strongly believe that we do a small service very well, namely sending the right writers and books into the appropriate prison communities. So for example Malorie Blackman visited the
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young women in Holloway, whilst Louis De Bernières saw the older community in HMP Wayland. And we recently sent a Bulgarian poet to work with foreign national women inside. We have recently joined forces with OUP (Oxford University Press) to send free dictionaries to prison libraries and prisoners; we work also with Prison Radio to facilitate as many books as possible reaching the community and to promote our writer visits. We sent over a 1000 dictionaries last year. We also are in the second year of our writing competition for prisoners judged by Mark Haddon and we are excited by the high standard of entries and in particular the book review section. This will roll out again in the autumn and we will be adding a separate section for the 17-21 year olds. We are also aware that each prison community is different - we are trying out mini residencies in the autumn for those communities that have expressed an interest in creative writing workshops. For people reading this in prisons, hospitals and other places of custody, what advice would you give them regarding writing development and getting into becoming published authors? In terms of advice to budding writers wherever you are - I would say read as much as possible, especially the books which you admire and may want to copy whatever the genre. All good writers are good readers. I’d also say try hard to get into the habit of writing even a diary entry every day, even just 50 words. In prison I found that a lot of people want to write down their life story to try to make sense of what has happened. That is a good thing to do. Everyone’s life writing has its own voice, tune, timbre and if you want to write that down, DO! I think publishing is another matter entirely, I honestly believe that writing in itself is a worthwhile process of understanding oneself and clearing the head. The Writers and Artists year book which the library will get for you can give you lots of names of agents and the kinds of books they publish. Make sure all submissions are well spaced and typed neatly. Good Luck!
“The Gates of Ytan and other stories” The following selection comes from the most recent English PEN Readers & Writers book “The Gates of Ytan and other stories”, published in March 2013. It contains award winning writing from prisons all across the country. Here are a few selected samples, chosen not just because they are beautifully written, but because they celebrate the kind of writing we want to feature more of in Not Shut Up – letters and book reviews – both of which are art forms in themselves (when done as well as they are here). The whole book can be downloaded or ordered from English PEN.
Writing for real Mark Haddon
“Most writers start writing because there’s something they need to get out of their heads and onto a piece of paper. They have a story they need to share. They want to explain themselves. They want to celebrate something. They want to confess something. They want to get previous memories down on paper before they vanish forever. It’s about self-expression. As every writer in prison knows. It’s also a way of escape, into the future, into the past, beyond walls, into imaginary worlds. But good writing – really good writing – is not something you do just for yourself but something you do for other people. The real test is to imagine yourself on stage reading out your work to a group of complete strangers. Will they laugh?
Will they feel sad? Will they be gripped? Will they be entertained? It’s a terrifying thought but that’s what good writing is all about, holding the attention of people you have never met before in your life... There were over 400 entries for the competition coming from over 60 prisons, a huge number. I’d like first of all to thank all those writers for taking the risk and joining in. I’d like to thank prison librarians, not just for supporting the competition but for championing reading and literacy all year round. I’d like to thank the Writers in Prison Network whose support has been invaluable (and whose Arts Council funding has been taken away). And finally, I’d like to thank Irene Garrow and everyone else at PEN who helped organise the competition and did the initial round of sorting before a very large box of scripts arrived at my door.”
A Letter to Myself Anonymous, HMP Whitemoor
Dear me, I know where you are, and I know you, as you are me, but a much younger me. You’ve run away from your father and your home. I’m writing to tell you it’s all right. You’ll be running (or is it searching?) for a long time. Right up front I want you to know no matter what I saw it won’t make any difference to you. I have my own reasons for writing. I have children now. And every day I look at them and feel sure that they too will discover that their dad doesn’t know everything; that he’s fallible and one day he will, just like your father now, disappoint them. I know it’s impossible to comprehend right now, when your compass is in an angry spin, and you’re running from the heroic centre of your life – the commando trainer, the fighter, the teacher, the boxer, the dancer, the funny, the leader of the pack... the law. The one who, with endless ideas and enthusiasm, could do and make
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everything happen. You swallowed the humiliation because that was the price of a special life, of following your own path, and in any case you were protected by and protecting your island, you. Listen, me: that someone so great could change so much for a thing as stupid as a wounded heart, and the need to be loved... you will not understand that until you are older. Everything changed, because you changed. The rigid discipline and golden absolutes will be no more, and the rock-solid realities will turn to dust. Have absolute confidence, my funny, sad, joyful, bright-eyed, enthusiastic, over-the-top, way-too-curly-haired (or new-wave curly-haired) sixteen-year-oldmisfit-of-a-self that this won’t make one jot of difference to your restless quest. As Orson Welles will intone on a vinyl record you will find soon at a junk shop while at drama school “I know what it is to be young, but you don’t know what it is to be old.” I am telling you all this because now, at forty-seven years old I love you, me – whatever. As I know you’ll be thinking to yourself: “fortyseven...how boring.” But you won’t know how untrue that is until you experience it for yourself and boy you do. Be safe and well. Me, myself and I Love You/Me X
Awoken from my Big Sleep The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler reviewed by Nigel Cranswick / HMP Lowdham Grange A few years ago I received an electric shock. It was a literary electric shock and it changed everything for me. I had just finished reading The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler. This book made me want to become a writer. Me? A writer? Nonsense. But let’s go back. School offered me the “improving” works of Shakespeare, Dickens, Austen and Joyce. But it was like throwing pebbles on an icy lake – nothing got through. I concluded English Literature was not for me. I wanted realism, humour and excitement. I wanted it written in a language I understood. As a result I did not read a book for twenty years. I thought I suffered from “Fiction Blindness”. The Big Sleep cured my blindness: “Tall, aren’t you?” said Carmen, “I didn’t mean to be,” said Marlow. With that line I fell in love with Philip Marlowe, the Los Angeles private detective. Self-depreciating, scathingly funny and unpredictable. Raymond Chandler’s crime creation told me: this is a different way of writing. The plot of the book finds Marlowe helping the retired and wheelchair-bound General Sternwood, who is being blackmailed. There are also numerous sub-plots involving the General’s two wild daughters and plenty of sex, drugs and violence thrown in for good measure. But it is not about the plot. It is about the stylish atmosphere Chandler creates: “the General spoke again, slowly, using his strength as carefully as an out-of-work showgirl uses her last pair of stockings.” In one single sleazy analogy an image is conjured up of a city with bad habits. It also suggests the harshness of the time, the novel being first published in 1939. Or how about: “the veneer had flaked off him, leaving a well-dressed hard boy with a luger,” “as hard as the manager of a loan office,” “he sounded like a man who had slept well and didn’t owe too much money,” “it seemed like a nice neighbourhood to have bad habits in.” You are left in no doubt that the LA in which Marlowe moves is a dangerous urban jungle, full of mean characters with nasty attitudes. Marlowe is not writing about “polite society”. He is writing about criminals. Marlowe has to be tough to survive but he retains his sense of humour: “I’m unmarried because I don’t like policemen’s wives.” Chandler began writing after a drink problem cost him his job. He was 44 years old. He took a correspondence course in story writing and embarked on a new career. Philip Marlowe is now the template for “gritty crime fiction” and his wisecracking smart-ass attitude is also echoed through films and TV crime dramas. This book brought me out of my literary big sleep and although the crime fiction genre is often seen as the poor relation to “proper” literature, it means the world to me: it got me reading and writing again.
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Justifying the End Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James reviewed by Barbara Gayton, HMP Askham Grange
have you read it yet? No need to ask what: it’s the book that everybody has been talking about. People who don’t usually read are hooked, unable to put it down. Reading it allows entry to an exclusive club: those who have read the book, not just those who have read about it. Read by teens and twenties, by middleaged ladies and by grannies. And it’s not just women. Men too want to see what all the fuss is about. Set the timer at the Book Club and see how long it takes before somebody mentions it: it won’t take long. Seldom does a book gain such a hold on the public imagination. And to the dismay of literary types, to the disgust of wordsmiths, the book is acknowledged to be badly written. So why should it have sold so many copies? If everybody knows that the Emperor’s new clothes are only an illusion, then why should they choose to pay for them? What is the attraction? What makes this book like catnip, so that once you’re snared, you’re powerless to resist its allure? What is it that makes people want to read this book? No doubt it is curiosity at the beginning. But at some point the characters which start off as two dimensional begin to gain depth until the reader starts to care about them. And that sure is the key to any good book, whether it be a Man Booker prize
winner or the latest populist novel. The hype can lure us in, but it is our connection to the characters, the fact that we care about them and need to know what happens next, that keeps us reading until the end. For me, the fascination with “Fifty Shades” is not just how many copies it has sold, or even how clever has been the marketing. It is the fact that within the prison population there are many women who have declared themselves to be non-readers and yet devoured the pages of this novel. And then returned to the library asking for more books, for recommendations. Even asking to borrow
“Tess of the d’Urbervilles” (which is mentioned in “Fifty Shades”) which they had been forced to read at school but now choose to re-read. And when the last page of a novel is turned we should feel bereft. In many ways like spending an intense weekend with a lover: you feel better for having spent the time together, you’re sorry to see them go, and yet so very relieved to have your life back again. Then take a deep breath, visit your local library or bookshop, and start scanning the shelves, like a desperate speed dater, to choose your book-date for the next weekend of literary hedonism. Never underestimate the power of the written word.
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So here we are - ‘British Summer Time’ - and as I write this it is snowing (or trying to). Hopefully, when you come to read it, the weather is a bit more, well, summery.
ouple of quick notes before we get onto the writing workout. I had a couple of letters in this time asking me to both consider the enclosed poem for Not Shut Up and the Koestler prize and need to let you know that although I am a judge for the poetry section, all Koestler entries need to go to them with the appropriate paperwork and this is normally available through your education department – or prisoner activities. We are starting a new competition: the best response to a writing prompt will win £15, and there are runner up prizes also of £10. All winners will be entitled to a tutorial from a Not Shut Up tutor. The competition will be judged and prizes awarded at the end of the year, so make sure you attach a home address, even if it is a c/o address, in case you are not at your institution when prize time comes. The haibuns that came in from the last workout were great. See next page for the selection. The Long Lartin offers are both in the travelogue (or travel writing) tradition of Basho’s Narrow Road to the Deep North. Shaun’s prose has a nice flow to it – making the difference between that and the haiku very strong. Tim’s evokes a nostalgic sense of innocence – and summer! Paul, from Pentonville, has given us a different kind of journey, an internal one. I love that phrase ‘round the world in cell mates’. As promised, I had a go, as it is a form I had never tried my hand at. My piece is an excerpt from a longer piece I began, whilst working with a friend who is an artist. We are going to attempt a travelogue of the Thames. Working collaboratively with another kind of artist is a really interesting process. I have worked with two artists this year and am also in the process of working with a composer and a 90 piece choir,
which is really intense! The size of the choir affects your word choice as some kinds of words are hard for an audience to hear when sung by a lot of voices. For this issue’s writing workout I want you to have a try at responding to a picture. Perhaps you have a cell-mate who does art, or perhaps you do art as well as creative writing. If that’s the case, still try to choose a picture you didn’t create to work with, as it is your creative interpretation of someone else’s that can push you in a different direction. If you are able to work with someone else – perhaps an artistic cell-mate, start with a discussion about what you want to depict. Then work separately on your pieces, coming together at a rough draft stage – to compare and see if either or both of you want to alter the work. If you do work with someone in this way, send both the poem and picture in to us. If you don’t have someone you want to work with, simply take a picture from the art pages of this issue of Not Shut Up to respond to. When I say ‘respond to’ – I mean, don’t simply describe it in short lines of poetry. Our anonymous Koestler winner from Usk, writes about Dora Maar, one of the women Picasso painted in his cubist period. She is looking at the picture and thinking about what she feels on seeing herself this way. It makes the poem much more interesting than a straightforward description would. Think yourself inside the picture. If it is a picture of a room, think about what it might smell like, is it warm or cold in there, what would be going through your mind in a place like that, what is outside the door? If the picture you choose is an abstract, think about what it is an abstraction of. Then – send me the results.
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Shaun P. Wallace / HMP Long Lartin
It was a sad sight to see that day: the site of the old coach road being widened for the new bus service, a service to run connecting Kilkenny’s rural villages to the outside world. A service that was long overdue. The shiny black marble surface now polished with age. Kilkenny marble a building block giving strength the black limestone rests.
Tim Walton / HMP Long Lartin
Walking through country lanes, the trio of friends wanted the hot summer days to last forever. After stopping to pick wild blackberries, they sat down and ate them in the dapple shade of a flowering horse chestnut tree while dangling their feet in the cool running water of a babbling brook. Running round haystacks the white plaited daisy chains dance in the breeze.
Paul Lyne / HMP Pentonville
Marijuana psychosis locked boxes. Round the world in cell mates in only two months. Crown court whatever. Just give me a cigarette. Can’t understand how to get to the library. Back to school – art, English, mind food finally. Yoga Asana stillness. Silent pleasure. Shouting and banging happening somewhere outside of me. Endless remand, I could still be not guilty. Stale bread feeding pigeons turkey wilting cornetto cigarette breath.
Anna Robinson (from Rainham Marsh)
There are dock leaves and dandelions and some nettles, of course. The wind is blowing east. East of here is a line of pylons and that bridge. There is shredded plastic on the mud, exhibiting itself around beach features. A damselfly passes over my notebook, casting a shadow. Something is swimming; something runs across Sara’s foot! The lichen on the drain cover is bright yellow, and 16 is sprayed on it in pink. I have this landscape on my face. 16 in pink over yellow. Face it.
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The perfume seller’s daughter
Anon / HMP Long Lartin From “Grieving And Other Poems”, Poetry Collection Prize Winner
eyes clasped like oysters head tilted nirvanic smile a rice grain engraved with all the world’s wisdom (quite prim, quite proper, quite elegant I do not know whether to envy her or something else) and should she look at me I would rhapsodise as if a flute sand dunes, reeds, and an ancient breeze and behold! My broom falls to the floor
Simon Moody / HMP Usk
Black wolf of fear guilt and rage thrust his dark snout into our dreams. White wolf of love joy and peace paces politely around our days. Which one do we feed?
Tim Walton / HMP Long Lartin after Avart Égettek by Rakovszky Zsuzsa
Fields burning, failed harvest reeking like burnt tar, creating a ring, a halo around the moon, of thistles from a shattered rainbow. As the urban forest descends towards autumn, houses are slanted by the evening sun. Outside, silence is disturbed by music, music of the earth splitting apart. This happened just once, then never again as with the help of your hand, the right hand, the demons emerged from the underworld casting their dark sorrowful shadows.
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Carlene / HMP Downview
Chain round my neck, this chain tight as could be, my thirteenth birthday, one special to me Anne’s life was wild, wild mushroom, gloomy and grey and under a stream. Anne’s life grew in such a way. At times, she felt so lost she hid away, she hid away under the ground, it was the only time she would be found. A rainbow would come, a rainbow would go, her life was many things, the only life she would know I still live on, like the tear in my eye but now I am free and don’t have to cry. My worries are over, my worries are gone. My name, Anne Frank, still lives on
Mike ‘Doc’ Baxter / HMP Long Lartin after Avart Égettek by Rakovszky Zsuzsa
Your hand, my hand this autumn evening to descend towards the forest underworld only the scent outside dry fallen leaves burn once more split apart, torn street, house, rainbow never again never more then shadow.
John Kellow / HMP Usk
No rainfall, just deserts, dry ancient creeks, vast expanses, valley basins now dry lakes, windswept pastures now bare rocky sandstone. Weathered rock masses, hardpan layers around valley slopes, bare rock hillsides, no green, just sand. Moon-like landforms, sandy-floored riverbeds now gritty clay, arid landscapes of dust. Somalia herdsmen – no waterhole, millet or maize climate dry and dead drought.
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Emotionally Scarred Carlon Thompson / HMP Unknown
Statuesque-like, stood still Like the feel of quick sand Sinking into love’s open hand Powerful like a teenage crush Beetroot face blush A mate my soul yearns to touch Reaching out like 3D Almost touching my fantasy Millimetres, she’s that close Only to see her turn ghost Sweating, I wake up in despair Grasping a strand of her hair Losing her hit me so hard My broken heart’s emotionally scarred
Not Fitting In
Mark Sheehan (MWS) / HMP Usk
A daytrip to Barry on the Saint Joseph’s bus, hiding behind the velveteen curtain like a stripper with a skin disease, the other boys giggling, whispering his name sharpening knives and dum-dumming bullets to terrorize genes he couldn’t explain, but are his, because he is that boy with an Original Sin. He’d listen to hip-hop, but preferred jazz, tried to look tough but was holocaust skinny, kept goal for a while, like one of the lads, until caught with a friend in the gym. Outcast for actions cast by genetics afraid to come out and not fitting in.
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This straightforward story about growing up, loving football, family, friends and yet having it all changed by illness is an excellent example of how life writing can not only help us put our own experience into context, but also reach out to others. The “brain thing” Andrew describes is something which affects a very large part of the population, and so many behind bars, and yet we do keep it “a big secret” from each other… But not, thankfully, the page.
Andrew Kyriakou / HMP Wandsworth
grew up in Clapham. Our house on Mallinson Road was between two commons, Clapham and Wandsworth, otherwise known as “between the commons”. There was a market at the end of our road, it made it a good place to live. It was split into three sections, with three main roads running through it. I lived there with my mum and four sisters. My dad lived with another woman. My mum was sick and had to have treatment. She had kidney failure and spent a lot of time in hospital having her blood cleaned. The hospital, St Thomas’, had good views over the Thames. I remember I used to stare out the window watching the boats. Me and my youngest sister Christella used to go into a room next to the lifts while waiting for mum. It had this funny-looking lift with no doors and it never stopped. It was only for nurses and doctors but as kids do we used to go on it. It was good fun and I always wondered how it goes round without stopping when it got to the top or bottom, but we were too scared to go far in case we got squashed. I know now I grew up with depression, and that was the reason I sometimes couldn’t get out of bed or even want to leave the house. My mum was too ill to drag me to school and had to leave early
for hospital. And when she did get me up, I walked around the common until everyone left, and went back home. The depression used to come and go at least once every five or six days and last a few, because sometimes I felt okay. I also had something else wrong with me which used to happen, not too often. It happened when my eyes were closed trying to sleep. It was like having nightmares, but my brain felt like it was spinning so fast. It was weird because I never told anyone about it, or the depression. I just thought it was part of life. Maybe I didn’t speak much to my sisters about myself, being the only boy. And Mum had enough on her plate. I remember one day Mr Miles was talking to me about my family background. I never really knew most of what he was saying, but did understand when he said “Do you know why I sometimes take days off? It was when I was depressed.” He said they must be your “off days”. I felt he knew more, but I didn’t ask. You kept the brain thing a big secret from everyone. It was scary, but exciting at the same time, and I used to try and make it happen again and again. My next door neighbour George was like a brother and father and granddad all into one, and best friend. He used to make sure
my boots were clean and my studs were tight. And we always watched Match of the Day together. When I was 15 playing for London, we drew 2-2 with Arsenal Boys. After the game my coach told me they wanted to sign me and Gary Ohgen. I set up both goals he scored. He told me he wanted to meet my dad, and he has to watch me. He did come, and they spoke. I played out my skin that day, I can even remember the best run I made up the right wing, and the cross I put on Mario’s head like I am playing now. It’s like a recording in my mind along with most of the best times on the pitch and growing up. I think my dad had too much going on in his own life. He had another three kids to look after. The dream never came true for me as we moved away from the area. My mum never liked the friends I started to hang around with. If only I had the state of mind I have now, but at the time when I was in my kid body. This story may have been a better ending. At least I have the memories of what it was.
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By Peter / HMP Wandsworth
Also, there is the matter of the flawless diamond, hidden so well only Juan knows its location. Or the secret connected with the stone, dating back to the last World War and some amazing family histories. In the previous issue, we published Part 1 of this vibrant family saga – we hope you enjoy the new chapter. Part 3 in the next issue!
ablo was the first to arrive, bringing with him a brown paper carrier bag full of Moscatel grapes. He hugged his young niece and went straight upstairs with her to see his father. There was more machinery from the hospital in the room than he had remembered from his last visit a couple of days ago and he told Maria that maybe his decision not to go out with the boat yesterday was meant to have been. He was glad to be there. They went downstairs to the kitchen and Maria prepared coffee whilst Pablo smoked his strong unfiltered cigarettes. Soon after the nurse came to the door and Maria took her straight upstairs. A car pulled up outside. It was Pedro. He got out clutching his briefcase and several plastic bags which looked for all the world that he was about to drop. Somehow he made it safely to the front door and, after asking his brother to help him with his belongings, they embraced. “Ah! You brought grapes too!” “Yes, from the woman at the beginning of the country road just outside of town. You know, the one next to the petrol station. I wasn’t sure what to bring.” “I also bought some from her.” “Really – are they any good?” “I don’t know yet, I haven’t tr…” “I was going to get the big red ones but although they look great, sometimes these are much nicer, sweeter, so eventually I decided on these.” Pablo wondered for a second or two how long his brother must have taken to finally make this decision and how grateful the store assistant must have been when finally
pa rt 2 Juan Cortez has lived all of his 85 years in the small town of Reus, Andalusia, Spain. Now he is at death’s door, his beloved granddaughter Maria has called all his five sons (Manolo, Martin, Pablo, Pedro and Francisco) to say their farewells to their ailing father.
he did. “And how is Papa? Where is Maria? I can’t stay long – I promised Antonita I would be back before dinner.” Pablo explained that he’d just seen him and that he was looking very grey, white almost, but sleeping peacefully. Maria and the nurse were with him. “What should I do, Pablo? Should I go up, what should I do, what do you think, Pablo?” Mercifully the telephone rang and Pablo was saved from his interrogation by the bell. It was Pacquita from the market. She and Papa had been close many years ago and some thought they might even end up together as man and wife. “Pacquita. How are you? It’s Pablo.” “Pablo. Hijo mio! Aye, ya, ya… Pablo, Pablo. Madre di mi vida y de mi corazón. Pablo, I’m so sorry, when did he die?” “No, no Pacquita, he’s no...” “The Father told Arantxa who told Senora Valdes who told… anyway, whoever… they are going to pray for him. At the service, this afternoon. Did you know
how close we were Pablo? Madre Mia! Did he suffer?” “No, no. Por favor Paquita, he’s not...” “Madre Mia! And when I think how long we knew each other. I loved him Pablo. Friends for 50 years … yes, yes, and we were to be married Pablo...” “Pacquita please...” “Pablo, did you know we were to be married? He showed me the diamond Pablo. For my ring. My diamond. He always said it was for me. Did you know we were to be married Pablo?” “Yes, yes Pacquita, we all knew. But the diamond…” “Until that whore came along.” At this Pablo could hear Pacquita spitting someplace, down the other end of the telephone. “She’s a whore Pablo, you know?” “Who, Delores?” “Don’t mention that whore’s name.” Pablo could hear more spitting. “I spit on her grave, I do, Pablo.” “But she’s not dead!” “Well, I wish she was. She ruined
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everything.” “Pacquita, please…” “And she’ll try and get my diamond Pablo. You mark my words. The whore. I’m so upset Pablo, I’m crying. I’ll go now. Adios Pablo. Anything you need? Anything Pablo?” “No, no thank you, but…” “Hasta mañana, Pablo. Adiós Hijo.” Pacquita had put the phone down. She was gone. Pedro looked quizzically at Pablo. “Who was that? Was it Pacquita from the market?” “Yes, yes, it was Pacquita.” “What did she want? If she’s coming here we’d better hide the grapes. You know what she’s like. She’d be furious if she thought we hadn’t bought them from her – she’d never forgive us, and you know that woman bears grudges. Where shall we hide them Pablo? Maybe we could put them…” “Pedro, please – why don’t you just go upstairs and see Papa.” “Do you think I should? I suppose time is moving on and I mustn’t be late back tonight.” “That’s it, Pedro. You go upstairs.” “Well OK. If you’re sure.” “Yes, Pedro. I’m sure.” As soon as he had turned on his heels and climbed the stairs to join Maria and the nurse with his father, the front door crashed open. It was Francisco, standing there, his head turned towards the heavens in dramatic pose, as if he had just finished his solo finale on stage at the Opera Grande in Barcelona, spotlights shining on him, the
crowd cheering. He was a picture, wearing black leather shorts which looked a size at least too small, a white singlet top and dark sunglasses, his arms were outstretched and he was sobbing wildly whilst all the time clutching a lime green ladies shoulder bag in his left hand. “Oh Pablo. This is so sad. I’m broken. Really I am.” Pablo looked at him, shaking his head gently from side to side in utter bewilderment. How could he, Pablo Cortez, strongman of the high seas who could kill any man that dared to cross him with his bare hands… how could he have a brother who looked like Greta Garbo? “Oh Pablo! Help me…” “Come in, come in, Francisco. Please.” “Oh, help me, help me – I can’t go on.” “Francisco, for God’s sake, please, just come in will you. Come in and sit yourself down – if you can sit down in those things that is. “ “Oh don’t start with all that! Mr… rough… tough, bash your head in, fisher… stupid… man! Not now of all times, please!” “Sorry Francisco – I didn’t mean anything by it – what do you have there?” He was pointing at the bag. “Oh, just a few grapes I bought on the way up, but I don’t suppose Papa can manage anything, can he?” “No, no, he can’t. Do you want to go up and see him?” But Francisco had already started sobbing again at the thought that Papa
wouldn’t be able to eat the grapes and his demeanour worsened as Maria and the nurse came downstairs. The sight of the uniform somehow made the predicament seem more real. The nurse said she had two more calls to make, not too far away, so her plan was to come back in two or three hours. She had checked Papa and he was stable. There was nothing else for her to do. Pedro came down stairs and the nurse left. Finally Maria and three of her uncles were together. Pedro was a little confused. “What’s all the machinery for? It doesn’t look too good does it? Should one of us not be with him all the time?” Maria explained everything the nurse had said to her upstairs. That he was sleeping peacefully and for now at least, just to keep checking on him and allow him to rest in peace. His old body was still fighting the drowning sensations of the pneumonia and it was important he be allowed to rest. She remembered the phone had rung. “Pablo – who was that on the telephone?” “It was Pacquita – she thinks Papa is dead.” “Oh! That old woman. She’s a pest. You told her?” “Well, I tried but she…” “You didn’t tell her?” “No. I just couldn’t. Every time I was about to she ju…” “Oh, Pablo. For God’s sake. They’ll all be saying prayers for him by now at the chapel.” “She said she would pr…” “Well, I suppose there are worse things. But someone should speak to her. Now you’re all here, I’m going to walk down the hill to get some bread. Who will stay for dinner?” Of course, Pedro would be going home, but Pablo and Francisco both said they would be staying for the duration. Pedro told them he would telephone later. Francisco announced that he would go upstairs to see his Papa and Maria left for the bakers. So Pablo was left alone with Pedro again in the kitchen. “Pedro – you’d better be on your way.
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was a bastardo. So Papa showed him the diamond – told him what it was worth and told him it was his if he saved the lives of the little ones. Within two hours everyone had arrived at the clinic. It was incredible. I remember it so clearly - as if it was yesterday.” “And, of course, they pulled through” “Yes, yes, we were overjoyed, so happy Pablo, I can’t tell you. I know you think Antonita is a dragon and so do I most days, but I love her and we loved each other so much then. When we were allowed to bring the babies back home for the first time, it was so emotional. It was a miracle.” “And what happened to the Doctor? I never understood.” “Papa swore me to secrecy.” “Hombre – does it matter now?” “No, no. I suppose it doesn’t. But you must never tell anyone. I wouldn’t want his memory… well, you know.” “Of course. Tell me what happened.” “Well, it turns out Papa disappeared without paying the Doctor.” “No!” “Yes! He said that if that bastardo could save the life of a child he should do it willingly without having to be paid.” “Madre Mia! What happened? What did the doctor do?” “The doctor went mad. He went looking for Papa and for his diamond. Papa told him he’d thrown it in the sea. He told him to go fuck himself.” “How old are the twins Pedro? When were they born?” “1958, so they are…” “…’58 you say?” “Yes, they’ll be…” “Wait. Don’t you understand? Don’t you see?” “What?” “Well, how could Papa have shown the diamond to the specialist when at that time it was in the safe of Senor Valdez at the boatyard?” “Well, he must have given it back to him.” “What? Senor Valdez!! I don’t think so. Besides, I was there four years after he first put it in there, when eventually he gave it back to Papa after I had paid the loan back.”
“The old bugger! All the time there must have been two diamonds!” “Three!” Both Pablo and Pedro turned round. Francisco was sitting halfway up the stairs staring at them both. “He must have had three. I’m sorry to have listened. I didn’t mean to, but once you started, well darlings, I just had to hear what happened. Mama Mia! I’ve never heard such things. But I’m telling you both now, there was another one.” “Why?” Pablo and Pedro asked together. “Because he gave one for me too. It was at that same time. I remember it well – I’ll never forget – for the rest of my life I’ll never forget. It was when I’d got together with Christiano. We’d met at the Arts Academy and decided to rent a little studio together where we could both work, be together, hopefully away from all the prejudices of the regime. It wasn’t easy in those days, you know, and I had to tell Nando I was breaking up with him. We had been together for a couple of years by then and he was such a beautiful boy. But we had grown apart. I didn’t like all the drugs he was taking and in truth, things hadn’t been good between us for some time. He was staying at his father’s villa in San Sebastiano and I took my best friend Alicia up there with me for moral support. Well, when I told him, the poor dear went mad! Shouting and screaming at me. Oh my God! What a performance! Then things turned really nasty. I don’t know what he’d been taking, but he was completely out of control. He starting saying terrible things – that he’d tell the authorities I’d raped him, that I’d had sex with him before he was eighteen, that the drugs were mine, which of course they weren’t. Oh my God, you’ve no idea what it was like. And then, just as he started throwing the things around, the front door opened and there was his father, who just happened to be the superintendent of the Guardia Civil. He was standing there, shaking with rage, a face of thunder. I thought he was going to
kill me. I’ll never forget the look on that face of his. He had heard enough of what had been going on. He grabbed me. Told me I was under arrest – poor Alicia ran away screaming.” “What happened then?” Pedro asked. “Well, what happened was that I got taken to the interrogation centre next to the prison, where Nando’s father worked. I was so frightened. I’d heard what they did to people like me and I was terrified. I was told that I would be interrogated and charged with all sorts of things. Being a homosexual, sodomy, rape, drugs, theft, you name it. I wasn’t getting out of there. My God! The best they said I could hope for was to be executed quickly. Can you imagine? Me! What a mess! The next day I was taken to a room. I hadn’t slept all night and there I was imagining all the terrible things that they were going to do to me. And when I got there I saw Papa!! My God! He looked so out of place just sitting there in that awful room. Alicia, bless her, had gone straight back to find him to let him know what had happened. We were allowed to talk alone for a few minutes and he asked me to tell him everything, which I did. The superintendent came back and they spoke together quietly, away from me. They shook hands, glancing back towards me, and then Papa took a tiny envelope from his top pocket. He laid it on the table and together they inspected this diamond. The superintendent placed the envelope in his top pocket and we were allowed to leave. Freedom! My God, I was so relieved! Papa then took me for a coffee and told me the whole story about how the family’s life savings had been put into this stone. I can’t tell you how pleased I am to discover now that there was more than one. At least my actions have not cost my brothers their inheritance. I feel like a huge weight has been lifted from my mind. A huge weight.”
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Battlefields. We think we know something about them from our television sets, school history textbooks and giant cinema screens. But it takes great writing to make us feel something of that heat of the front line, and to understand what real heroism is about. In times of war, there are many risking their lives to save those of others. Their stories must be told.
Brian / HMP Shrewsbury
t 8 am that morning, B company, forty strong including one woman, set off. B Company, the Second Rifles, had been stationed for four months in the southern Helmand province of Afghanistan. Intelligence had received information that a group of Taliban insurgents might have weapons hidden in a nearby compound. It was also reported that a well-known Taliban leader was meeting with insurgents that day to discuss attacks against the British at that same compound. The local British commander saw this as a great opportunity to strike back at the Taliban units in this area. The insurgents had carried out several attacks inflicting many casualties on the British forces. The suspect compound lay about two miles north east of the British base. It took the patrol just over an hour to reach it. They stretched themselves out over six or seven hundred yards. Small drainage and irrigation ditches ran alongside hedgerows on the outer edges of rough, dusty barren fields; open ground all around.
A forbidding presence of featureless, beige walls harbouring the enemy. These walls dominated the scene. Taliban fighters watched through their murder holes, waiting for the enemy to enter the killing ground. The company made its way slowly towards the compound. Suddenly, too suddenly, came a long sustained accurate burst of small arms fire from Taliban positions. Men jumped into ditches; eyes peered from beneath helmets, trying to identify firing points. Then silence. It was the silence that would jar on the nerves just as much as the initial noise. A second round of firing hurled dust and dry mud into their eyes and noses. “Half right, one hundred and fifty yards, walled compound. Open fire!” came the order. Everyone knew where the firing was coming from. Another burst from the north west and another from the west. They were pinned down, unable to move; impotent for a few vital seconds. The shout “Man down!” from across open ground filled a new silence. Man down! One of the most chilling battlefield cries. The person with most to fear from
this shout was B Company’s medic, Kate Southerby. Five feet two inches tall, her long blonde hair tied up beneath her helmet. Laden down by her medical Bergen strapped on top of her bulky osprey body armour, crouching, she dashed, zigzagging, sprinting and stumbling. Anybody who saw this believed that there was no way she would survive. AK 47 rounds kicked up vertical spurts of earth all around her. Seconds later, miraculously unscathed, she threw herself into the bottom of a ditch where her company commander was holed up. Everyone around just stared at her in disbelief. “Who is it, sir? Where is he, sir?” she asked breathlessly. “Over there.” The company commander pointed across another hundred yards of exposed ground. “Sergeant Watkins, with Dave Holmes and a few others.” Kate could just make out the helmets bent over someone on the ground. Without question, Kate hauled herself out of the shallow ditch and began another dash through a hail of bullets. Her commanding officer could not believe what he was seeing. He just prayed that the covering fire would do its job.
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Being hit – dying – was not on Kate’s mind as she sprinted towards the small group ahead of her. At first she could see no blood. It had to be a head shot. It was. From the first glance, she knew instantly it was going to be touch and go. The round had hit Sergeant Andy Watkins and gone through his right cheek, shattering teeth, ripping part of his tongue away and exiting his left cheek. The danger with Andy was his ability to breathe. Kate knelt by his head. A new burst of gunfire smacked into the ground around their position. Corporal Dave Holmes screamed at Kate. “Get down on your belt buckle!” He was tugging at her webbing as Kate, kneeling, struggled to get her medical Bergen off. She could not do this lying down. Andy Watkins was barely breathing; drifting in and out of consciousness; blood
spattering and erupting; gasps for breath. Kate had to work fast to get air and fluids into Andy’s body, and a nasal tube through his nostril and past the back of his damaged throat. She positioned him on his side to prevent body fluids flowing down the back of his throat. Kate inserted an IV tube into a vein and forced 250 mls of saline into her patient. The response was almost immediate - a weak but workable pulse rate. Kate checked other vital signs: pupils normal; no further adverse signs. She was confident that he was responding to all of her demands. She jabbed a phial of morphine into his leg. While all this had been going on, a helicopter evacuation had been ordered, and was now only minutes away. Kate had to work fast. She and the other soldiers managed to get Andy onto a stretcher, keeping him on his side. The only problem
was that the emergency landing site was about a quarter of a mile away, across the uneven stubbly fields where the maize crops had been growing. It was fairly open ground once again, so the small group hauled ass, as the rest of the company lay down as much covering fire as possible. It took about ten minutes to reach the landing zone. The Chinook helicopter was churning up dust and small stones. The stretcher party quickly covered up Andy’s mouth and nose; choking dirt could kill him instantly. When the dirt settled, Kate gave the on-board emergency team a verbal handover of information on Andy. It had taken thirty minutes from a shot hitting Andy to a helicopter whisking him away.
Laden down by her medical Bergen strapped on top of her bulky osprey body armour, crouching, she dashed, zigzagging, sprinting and stumbling... www.notshutup.co.uK 21
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The Koestler Trust Why prison art?
The current high levels of re-offending affect us all. To make our society safer, it pays to channel offenders’ energies to positive ends, to build their self-worth and help them learn new skills. The arts are an especially effective way of engaging with offenders who feel alienated from mainstream education and employment, and there is growing evidence that the arts are an effective in changing offenders’ lives.
he Koestler Trust’s current exhibition “Secure, The Koestler Exhibition for Wales” is on at the Millennium Centre, Cardiff until the 26 May 2013. This is the Trust’s first exhibition in Wales and all artworks and non-visual work has been selected from prisons, secure hospitals and by people on probation in Wales. The exhibition was curated by young people from HMP & YOI Parc with training and guidance from professional curators.
INTERVIEW WITH JO BRANDON, Koestler Creative Writing Coordinator
not shut up: How did you come to work for Koestler as their Creative Writing Coordinator? Are you also a writer?
Jo Brandon: I had just finished working for Southbank Centre as an Events Coordinator for Poetry Parnassus and a colleague told me about the upcoming opportunity at Koestler and I got very, very excited about the role. Being a writer and former editor myself this was a really unique and meaningful opportunity to use my skills and experience. I’ve felt very privileged to work with such an incredible body of writing and it is really energising to read such diverse work. As I’ve developed my writing career, it was always important to me to have a support network that could offer me constructive feedback, give me opportunities to showcase my writing and also take a genuine interest in my development as a writer. Something that really appealed to me about this role was the fact that the Koestler Trust is genuinely committed to delivering these opportunities to people that might otherwise find it difficult to access them. not shut up: Can you tell us more about the
kind of work Koestler do around encouraging and celebrating creative writing?
Jo Brandon: The Koestler Trust accepts submissions in 13 categories of writing including poetry, screenplay, fiction, journalism and the Trust continues to devote a lot of energy and resources to exhibiting and awarding this writing in new and exciting ways. As the Creative Writing Coordinator it has been a wonderful challenge to look at how we can showcase and display as many of these different forms as possible. Over the 2012-13 cycle we have created an anthology, display booklets, large scale projections, TV show reels, A3 print boards and audio booths, as well as including writing extracts from each exhibition on our website, which I hope has meant that visitors have been able to engage with the written work in a variety of ways across each of the exhibitions. The Koestler Trust also recognises and encourages achievement by giving over 1,500 awards a year (across all art forms), with most winners receiving a cash prize and offers a mentoring scheme to those that demonstrate exceptional creative talent.
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not shut up: Can you tell us more about the project in Wales?
Jo Brandon: The current Koestler Trust exhibition, Secure, at the Millennium Centre in Cardiff is the Trust’s first exhibition in Wales and, as the Millennium Centre is such an iconic venue, it felt appropriate to try a variety of fun and interesting showcases for the creative writing. We have a large-scale projection in the ground floor foyer, we have an audio booth with extracts of spoken word and music, we have a film featuring animation and story telling and a print anthology of all the writing featured on the projection (which is also available via the website). It was a great culmination of the 2012 awards cycle and it has been a real pleasure to work with such a dedicated team. I’m really looking forward to seeing what the 2013 awards produce. not shut up: Personally, how do you feel
creative writing fits into the experience of those behind bars, be it prisons, secure hospitals, refugee centres, etc?
Jo Brandon: Creative writing is a tool that can be used in so many ways – as a form of artistic expression, as a form of catharsis, it can be playful and freeing, it can be honed as a craft and at the root of those other applications it is a really empowering form of communication. It can help you express yourself and your ideas more confidently, which in turn can have an impact in areas such as employability and education. Also it is a form of creative and personal expression that doesn’t require many materials but really does have such a huge impact as the Koestler Trust continues to hear from so many award entrants, their families and exhibition visitors. The following story is taken from the Koestler Wales project.
Eric’s story Anon / HMP Usk Platinum Award for Fiction from The Newport Four, Short Story Collection
ric was early and decided against the fashionably late arrival or the big dramatic entrance. He thought it safer to get there in plenty of time, imagined her arriving dead on, seeing he wasn’t there and stomping home: probably his only chance in tatters. The back bar of the Westgate was small and empty. He hoped it would fill up a bit before she arrived: some background chatter would relax him and he wanted as many people as possible to see them together. Should he get himself a drink or wait for her first? He’d look cooler with a pint he thought, so went to the bar, had a quick chat with the barman and sat back down with a pint of bitter. He sniffed his armpits (the double shower and bucket of ‘smellies’ was holding out), checked his breath in a cupped hand, pulled the menthol breath freshener from his jacket pocket and sprayed, then took a series of deep breaths. Eric looked at his watch: in forty-seven seconds she would be a minute late… It had been a typical start to a workday: he arrived at his little serviced office at eight-thirty and met Liz on the way in. “Morning Eric,” she said. “Bright and early as usual.” The same comment made every morning as they crossed in the corridor. “M, m, m, morning Liz” he stuttered, blushing slightly. Eric didn’t have a proper stutter, just stumbled in embarrassing situations. He also sweated. Sweated a lot actually, especially when stressed or nervous. Eric was a little overweight for his five seven but his sweat glands treated him
like a twenty stone jogger and never missed the opportunity to drench a polyester shirt and the crusty pits of his suit jacket. Liz was wearing a low-cut white blouse – that fitted her full figure where it touched – and a tight, black pencil skirt. Eric particularly liked that skirt: liked it enough to give it a starring role in one of his more elaborately constructed fantasies. This was just the sort of thing that brought on the stutter and encouraged his eager sweat glands to work overtime. Liz brushed the shoulders of Eric’s jacket and straightened his tie. “Come on, love,” she said. “Sort yourself out. Do I have to dress you every morning?” “Thanks Liz,” he said. There was an awkward silence. Eric pushed wonky glasses up his greasy nose while working up some courage. “Liz, do you want to g g g…?” “What’s that Eric?” “Sorry, I was just wondering whether you wanted to g g g…? Oh nothing.” He said. “Nothing, sorry, nothing, better get on.” He forced out an embarrassed smile, turned, and quickly carried on up the corridor whispering to himself, “Damn, damn.” When Eric thought it was safe, he sneaked a look back; caught a glimpse of Liz’s plump, pear bottom swinging towards her office door, then saw her thumb and index finger slip up the back of her skirt, probably just adjusting some knicker elastic, but revealing a bubble of plump white thigh above her flesh-coloured stocking top. Eric’s eyes flickered like a camera shutter. The image was logged, catalogued and stored for future use. As she slipped into the office, her supervisor slipped out and saw Eric looking in his direction. Eric knew him – he took the photos for the site magazine – so waved back and quickly walked towards the toilet in an attempt to cover his leching. Ah well, he thought, his mind clicking on that sexy
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clip of stocking and skin, I’m on my way now, shame to waste the journey. “Just ask her out, Eric” Billy had said. They were sitting in the Six Bells with a bunch of friends. “You’ve been talking about her for two years. Just . ask . her . out.” Eric knew Liz was his main – well, almost only – topic of conversation, but struggled to keep her out of his mind. “Easy for you to say,” he said. “You don’t need to worry about this stuff when you’re all loved up with a girlfriend, do you?” “Okay, but how did me and Sian get together?” Billy asked. “Come on tell me. No. Okay, I’ll tell you - I . asked . her . out.” Eric counted Billy as his best friend and didn’t like to annoy him, but seemed to manage it in almost every conversation. “Okay, I will” Eric said, banging down his glass. “I’ll ask her out.” “When?” “Next time I see her. Yeah, next time I see her I’m asking her out, definitely.” “Yeah, alright. I’ll believe it when I see it,” Billy said, downing his pint. “Anyway, get the beers in.” Eric ordered two fresh pints, had a short chat with the barman who quickly moved away, and brought the drinks to the table. “That barman’s an idiot,” he said. “I was only passing the time of day like, and he just walked off.” “Have you changed since you got home from work?” Billy asked, accusingly. “Haven’t had time, have I?” Eric replied. “Then what do you expect?” Billy said. “How many times have we had this out, man? I give up with you.” “Yeah, I know. Sorry, Bill.” Eric was eager to move off the embarrassing subject of his personal hygiene. “Anyhow, like I said, I’m definitely going to ask Liz out next time I see her.” Billy took a sip of his pint, looked across to Eric and said, “Yeah, yeah, whatever.” Then turned his head to the others and whispered, “You know what? I really don’t care anymore.” Eric had meant it when he said that he would ask Liz out, but didn’t see much of her
“Erica’s eyes flickered like a camera shutter. The image was logged, catalogued and stored for future use.”
over the next couple of weeks, and when he did, she always seemed in a hurry, so he never got the chance to pose the question. He didn’t mention her to the lads anymore, but they had taken on the challenge of winding him up about her instead. “How’s your invisible girlfriend, mate?” “Asked pretend girl out yet?” “Seeing your imaginary girlfriend tonight, Eric?” His role in the gang had always been that of scapegoat, but things were becoming more and more him and them. In the past, Billy had stuck up for him, but now it seemed as if sides had been taken, so even though Billy didn’t abuse him directly, he didn’t make any attempt to protect him either. Eric lived in a comfortable two-bed flat in the centre of Newport, but nobody ever visited and the only ‘friends’ he had were more drinking partners than soulmates. He had taken to having imaginary conversations with Liz. “Hi, love, you had a good day? … Oh, okay, I’ll run you a nice bath then.” He knew she wasn’t really there and told himself he wasn’t mad, it was just a harmless pastime, like spending all night on his new Sinclair Spectrum, or weekends building World War II model planes. Eric
had postponed his plan to ask Liz out, but they still occasionally exchanged pleasantries in the works corridor; shorter exchanges than before, but he would smile knowingly, offering her subtle, conspiratorial nods. Eric was sure that he and Liz were destined to be together and that someday, somehow, fate would find a way to make it happen, but the note still came as a shock. It was on his office floor when he came into work on Monday morning. He guessed it was from her straight away, even before he opened it: the envelope was handwritten and he knew exactly what her handwriting looked like, as he already owned a few of her old scribblings. These were kept safely with the other ‘Liz-things’ he had found while checking through her office bin on the weekends: things like used tissue paper, a lipstick-stained apple core and an empty Lil-Lets packet. Eric carefully opened the envelope and unfolded the letter. It was typed on her department’s headed notepaper. His heart was thumping; he could already smell her hair and hear her laughing at his jokes while Sian and Billy looked on smiling. He refolded the letter in a panic, afraid to read it, afraid of
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a rejection. “Come on, Eric” he whispered. “Calm down. Breathe.” He took half a dozen deep breaths, just like the doctor had shown him, then unfolded the letter again and started to read. Dear Eric, I know that this is a coward’s way out but I couldn’t pluck up the courage to say it to your face so… “Bitch, bitch, bitch.” Eric threw the letter onto his desk and stamped up and down his office muttering, “She will love me, she will, she will love me.” He picked up the letter again, ignoring the sweat running down his sides, breathed deeply and forced himself to read on. …I thought it would be better and less embarrassing if I wrote it down instead. I kept hoping that you would ask me, but even though we talk most mornings, you never do. So I will. Here we go. I like you Eric, and would like to know you better. I’ve seen the way you look at me, so I hope that you like me too. If I’m right, meet me in the back bar of the Westgate at eight o’ clock on Saturday night and we can have a few drinks and a chat. I hope you can make it. If you can’t, don’t worry, I understand. Got to go now. Hope to see you Saturday. Love Liz xxx
“Yes! Yes! Yesyesyes! I knew it. She loves me. Yes!” Eric pumped the air, jumping up and down like a toddler on Christmas morning. A head poked around the door opposite. “Sorry,” Eric said. “Some good news. Sorry.” He pushed his office door shut. “Yes!” Eric was back at the Six Bells on Friday night, suffering the same taunts and jibes, but he no longer cared. “How’s your invisible friend Eric?” “Perhaps she’s with him now, like. Hi Liz, you there?” “Yeah, yeah, whatever,” Eric said, smiling. “Heard it all before lads, bring it on.” He was bursting to tell them his secret, but didn’t in case they tried to spoil things. And if Liz didn’t turn up he’d never hear the last of it. “You asked her out yet, mate? Better hurry up: you might have some competition.” “No, not yet, like,” Eric said. “But I will, don’t you worry; it’s all under control.” All four lads droned, “yeah, yeah, yeah” in unison, looked at each other and sniggered. Billy wasn’t in the pub: probably out somewhere with Sian. He would have told him about the date: he could trust Billy. Anyway, he thought, once he and Liz were a proper couple his friendship with Billy would get even stronger. They would be an inseparable foursome, meals out, nights in, probably even holidays together. Maybe I’d better go to the gym, he thought, get rid of this spare tyre, build up a few muscles, get on the sunbeds; can’t look like a sickly whale with a gorgeous new girlfriend, can I? Just one more sleepless night and one restless day, he thought, and the lads can eat their words. He would have the best girlfriend ever and they would be snivelling around him instead of sniggering at him. Thirty-three-seconds late and counting. Eric was convinced she wasn’t coming, running the reasons through his head. She’d probably written the note in a moment of madness and changed her mind. She might have been knocked over by a bus, or met some handsome man on the way in. Perhaps he had the wrong time. No, no he thought, I’ve read the note a million times,
just calm down. Should he get another pint? He’d almost finished the first. He was sweating already and he hadn’t even seen her yet. “Eric!” “Eh? Oh, yeah, hi.” Eric was jerked out of his fantasy and looked over to the door. Looking back at him and smiling was a familiar face but not the face he was expecting: it was Liz’s supervisor. Before he could start unravelling this surprise the door opened again and a gang of lads trooped through. It was his mates from the Six Bells. They walked across as one, forming a semi circle around him and just as he was about to fire off his questions they parted and Billy walked forward holding a large red book. “Stand up, mate.” Billy said. Eric got to his feet. “What’s all this, mate?” he said with a nervous smile. ‘I’m meeting Liz in a minute: just like I said I would, Bill.” Billy looked straight through Eric, slowly shaking his head. “No. No you’re not, Eric,” he said. “It’s just us you’re meeting tonight.” Billy opened the book. Inside was a fat cartoon woman pinching her nose. Above it, a speech bubble carrying the legend, Phew, he stinks. Alongside the cartoon was a photo of Eric in his scruffy suit and tie with a yellow baseball cap rammed on his large head. “Smelly Eric,” Billy said through a wicked grin. “I would like to present you with this book because … Liz is your Life.” The gang exploded: laughing, cheering and clapping; the noises merging and blurring around Eric. He sat down with a bump, staring blankly at the book now sitting in his lap. The laughter built, wave after wave crashing over him, battering him down each time he came up for air, choking everything out of him. Gradually the storm subsided, eventually arriving at an edgy calm. Eric looked up at the crowd. They were staring down at him. A sickly smile, carefully avoiding the dead eyes, crept onto his lips. He looked at his watch. In twenty-one seconds, he thought, Liz will be eleven minutes late.
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Maddison / HMP Shrewsbury
“F*** sake man, this is shit,” Jamie whispered half to Frank and half to himself. His voice echoed around the big square bin they were sat in. “Yeah, I know. But at least it don’t stink in here like Bertie the Fishman’s bins,” Frank whispered back. Jamie threw him a puzzled look. “No, you spaz. I mean this life. This life is shit.” “Will you stop calling me f***ing names. You’re gonna give me a bloody complex.” Frank’s voice rose a decibel or two. “Sshh! They’ll hear us, man.” “Ok, ok. Chill, man. Anyway, what’s up with you? You’ve had a face like a smacked arse all weekend.” After a short pause Jamie let out a sigh. “Look at us. Why the f*** are we criminals? I mean, we’re shit at it. We never make any money. We’re 32-year-old blokes hiding in bins from the biggest f***ing gangsters in town.” “Yeah, sorry about that, man. I didn’t mean it.” “You didn’t mean it? What the hell are you on? You nicked a two-foot gnome from Ray Violla’s wife!” There was a mix of anger and bewilderment in Jamie’s voice. “How was I to know it was his wife’s?” “Maybe cos it was in his f***ing front garden, you clown.” “I was stoned, wasn’t I?” “But why did you think it would be a good idea to send him a ransom video when you found out whose it was?” “I was trying to make us some money, man. I didn’t think he’d know it was me. I wore a mask and everything, man.” “That big stupid photo of you, hanging on your wall, in a f***ing kiss me quick hat on Blackpool pier – that might have had something to do with it.” Jamie was starting to get annoyed. “Well I’m sorr…” “Shh! Listen.” Jamie interrupted Frank mid-sentence. They could hear footsteps outside, close to the bin. Suddenly there was a loud
A spot of bovva A gnome, a wheelie bin and some big, bad gangsters. When drugs and stupidity collide, the consequences can be – and also smell – real bad.
thud on the bin lid. Both Frank and Jamie jumped, their hearts nearly pumping out of their rib cages. Frank almost dropped the mobile phone he was using for light. They could just make out the muffled words that came from outside. “They definitely came down this way, Dave,” Chris grunted. “You sure?” “Yeah. They’re close by. I can smell the chicken shits.” “They’ll be chicken shits when I get hold of them. I’ll teach them to f*** with Ray Violla.” “And I’ll teach them to make me run. I hate f***in’ running. I’m gonna hurt ‘em… lots!” The silence inside the bin was deafening.
The seconds seemed like minutes, hours, even. Just as they heard the footsteps again, this time slowly moving away from the bin, there was a sudden noise, a long, loud noise. It was so loud that it shook the bin, ricocheting off every surface. Frank had let out the loudest fart Jamie had ever heard. “Bollocks,” Jamie said. “Sorry.” Frank sounded sheepish. The lid of the bin was flung open and the faces of two rather mean-looking thugs appeared. “Hello, boys.” Chris sounded menacing. “Er, hi. You looking for us?” Jamie and Frank replied in unison, both with daft smiles on their faces.
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Harvest Festival / DG / Acrylic on canvas
One man exhibition by prison artist A one man exhibition of paintings by artist Donald Grayson has recently taken place at Garden Court Chambers, Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London. Three years ago Donald received a lengthy prison sentence and took up art again. Encouraged by sympathetic tutors in his prison art class, a vocation developed, shaped by the challenging circumstances of prison life. Prison could be lonely, crowded, noisy, boring, traumatic, but it could also be funny.
Donald responded with brightly coloured paintings featuring storybook characters from English folklore, their narratives suggesting sitcoms or soaps, pub scenes from The Rover’s Return or The Queen Vic. Other pictures are more poignant; one showing Mr. Punch hanging himself in a prison cell upset some. Others found his colour garish. He was encouraged by these reactions - they suggested he was onto something.
His move to another prison meant a break from painting of several months because he had no materials and no art class to go to, but he’s painting again now. Donald commented “I’m making pictures to cheer me up, poke sticks at society’s sensitivity and bring a chortle and grin to others”. Matthew Meadows, Art Editor
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Armistice DAy / DG / Acrylic on canvas
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Punch and Judy convention at Gt. yarmouth / dG / acrylic on canvas
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Dick anD Pam get marrieD / Dg / acrylic on wood
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A letter to my younger self Chris / HMP Shrewsbury
Another letter from an older to a younger self. Wisdom comes with a price – time. Though perhaps one of our younger readers will write a letter to their older selves and send it in to us?
his is a letter I can’t start with a formal To, Hi or Hello, as it’s from you to you, as is me to me. So let me explain. I have been given the chance to write a letter to myself at the present time (2012) and send it to myself in the past. Myself is you. As you will probably see by the handwriting – it’s yours, and it ain’t got no better. This is unique. No-one gets this chance, so my advice is, and this is your own advice, read on and do as I (you) say. I’ve sent this to you at the time you are seventeen, as I (you) believe this is where you will most benefit from this letter. At this age you had a good chance, if only you knew it – but this is the advantage, see, as at 37 you do know it. Next time your old dad moans at you for the people you hang around with, don’t go arguing at him and swearing allegiance
Illustration / Matthew Meadows
to your army of friends, because trust me, they don’t turn out great or have your best interests at heart. Your parents are only after the best for you, so start showing them some respect. As you are at the minute, you can make a good life for yourself, but soon you will be 18 and things start to change. It’s drugs. You are at 37 sitting in jail doing a nine year sentence; you’ve lost everything and basically you mean nothing. It’s not big and it definitely ain’t clever. So, here’s what to do. Enjoy yourself – I ain’t about to tell myself not to – but don’t fall into the trap you did the first time, unless you want to end up taking a shit in the corner of the room with another man in there. All you need to do is work hard, like you do already; respect your mum and dad; and learn that just because you don’t go with
or do things that your mates are doing, you ain’t going to be missed. And the dodgy deals – you don’t need them; you can earn a good living doing what you are doing, so stick at it. Here I have to leave myself – you – to make your own way. Besides, there ain’t enough ink for me to tell you all the wrongs that are on the way if you don’t take this letter seriously. One thing I will tell you is you end up having two beautiful little girls, and if you don’t take note, you end up away from them, and that’s the worst mistake. Take this seriously, as I want it better, and I am you; you are me. Take care, Chris P.S. if a night should come and you and a mate decide to climb a tree when you are drunk to impress a couple of girls, don’t – it hurts, badly.
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My life in 50 words Anon / Ardenleigh Centre (Koestler Bronze Award)
Somalia learning the Koran Fighting gangsters hungry damage Yemen accommodation food washing cars Nine years old Djibouti Sudan Uganda Tanzania Zambia Kenya Eritrea Ethiopia Libya Italy France England Ticket illegal immigrant Drugs smoking drinking Mess around with head Damage police station interview Crazy hospital scary Here I am
Sid Wright / HMP Lowdham Grange
I was born at the crack of dawn and fully grown by mid-morn. Iâ€™d found my sweetheart by midday and gave her my love on the bank where she lay. Then fertilised at sunset, she sat and cried when I returned to the lake and died.
Allegra / HMP Downview
Hereâ€™s the window It brings only darkness Chained; a prisoner Everything is grey Everything is dark Is the sun out there behind the bars? To hide in an attic is worse than a basement Silence oppresses, better not to talk The words bring pain To feel the presence of people in space Trying not to touch Certain to bring pain The courage to confront and still feel life Belongs to the world refusing to be rejected
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Calvin Forbed-Stone / HMP Unknown
We been tight since teens Trendy, eye catching on road Providing a sense of stability Making moves together Assisting me in keeping a firm grip on terra firma We’ve been through some shit together We’ve come such a long way From a wide and varied assortment It seems like the natural option Practically comfortable but adaptable for all occasions My bestest, we make a great pair!
Paul Olawale / HMP Feltham
The sounds of my life can be segmented into many stages – a choir singing a celebration song as I am brought forth into the world, a mellow classic as my parents guide and I generally do as I am told, in my rebellious teenage years, an erratic drum and bass, then back on track as I calm down. Suddenly a rock concert, a moment of madness and frenzy as I commit a crime getting caught the emphatic rock concert ending.
Dora Maar Looking Back Anon / HMP Usk (Koestler Highly Commended Poem)
Puzzling? He sucks me in, his eyes an illusion of symmetry – a single perspective. I am unconvinced by the nose those eyes so perfectly triangulated, but his compelling math transcends my unease. Deviant tints spread from a limited palette, a pink scarf the only allusion to truth. I am displaced, visualizing the insane, eyeing new images from altered spaces. His round black hat willing me to believe. It is endless. Whether genius or trickery, I know not, this disturbs me; my reality fuzzy, maybe, even in dispute.
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Ross Faulkner, HMP Unknown
Wisdom stopped running and turned around to see Idiosyncrasy looking strangely at a tree Soliloquy offered the Willow some solution, Dissemination procrastinated by under-graduation Obstreperously, idiosyncrasy fertilised the flora, Myopia cried, “Wisdom, is an open profligation”.
A Prisoners Tale
Stephen Donald / HMP Castle Huntly
A Valentine! What’s that? A verbal uttering within my breath A crazy notion in my head A feeling of despair and dread For a valentine that’s gone – it’s said
Michael Bulmer / HMP Unknown
Bouncing, dancing on water, by day and night Dazzling, blinding as you try to drive Glare, your face crumples as it would in response to a hateful stare Colour as it passes through a prism A touch of perception, rainbows to earth from the heavens Magnified to burn, a catalyst for reflection, thought Bouncing around at speeds we can only imagine A problem solved, illumination Progress made, a religious occasion A sign of hope in the darkest of places Where the mind panics, the imagination runs wild Warmth, comfort, the new day to come.
And as I sit upon my bed Thoughts are racing through my head Cell talk and rumours are a deadly breed They cast aside with wanton greed And tear your heart with utmost speed But pen and card sit on my desk So carefully I begin to verse My love my life be true to me This time will pass for you and me So please my love wait for me The prison mail has arrived To tell the tale of those outside A card a letter oh so dear For those of us who live in fear My valentine please be here! With trembling legs I approach the desk Oh god! What pain inside my chest Then in my hand, a card is pressed I turn and run across the hall And wildly stumble into my cell A valentine for all to see A joyous verse from her to me She loves me more than words can say Those rumours now can go away My life begins again today
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I Am Motion
Nicolas Briggs / HMP Castle Huntly
Peter Tillott / HMP Unknown
Way aye bonnie lad, Why’s you lookin so sad? Me Andy Cole tattoo’s all done, Hurt like hell man, it was nae fun. But it’s a beauty, a bloody work of art, A reet bird pulla… and that’s just to start, ‘Ave a look, it covers me thigh, Wor superhero scoring, reaching for the sky. Toon army’s black and white striped saviour, Cannae wait to show the lads tonight down at the Anchor. The greatest Newcastle number nine, Now and forever permanently mine. Here it is man, whadya think? ‘Es going where? Who’s caused a reet stink? What news?... no, I have nae heard. Six million from Man Utd… he’s been transferred! It cannae be… I’m his biggest fan, I’ll kill that Kevin bloody Keegan. And what about me soddin’ tattoo, Jesus wept man... what am I gonna do?
I’m like rolling waves crashing against a sea wall at high tide I’m like a perpetually spinning coin, a true Gemini Complex like hieroglyphic text, a man with two sides In the physical plane I’m a hopeless con doing so long You’d think I robbed a life But in my mind when I close my eyes I can’t help but smile Coz every time I picture myself I’m always soaring through skies It’s just this inflated ego of mine that kept my spirit alive When by now by rights it should’ve shrivelled and died What can I say I’m a hopeless romantic? Forever the optimistic Poetic without the justice Forever lost-in-this Cold wasteland – I’m hostage Surely there must be a cost-to-this Like no one man could remain so positive Well my secret’s this I’m like a tectonic plate ready to shift Break, vibrate and create a major earthquake Gifted with so much potential energy haters can’t help but hate I’m like a magnet, a coiled spring A viper recoiling before it strikes and sinks its fangs in A jack still in the box, full of adrenalin Than a fox that just outwitted the dogs And I stay forever young Like I got the power to stop clocks And regardless of the hate I receive, From men who I believe they are better I still know underneath I am better than them And I still do more laughing than crying A lot more smiling than sighing Truth is, I’m not just soaring, I’m flying
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Anne Frank Center USA
Hello, world: Diaries by men and women in American prisons
n 2009, in an effort to reach out to prisoners and educate people on both sides of the “wall”, The Anne Frank Center USA, in partnership with PEN American Center, launched a Prison Diary Program for men and women in American prisons using the Diary of Anne Frank as an inspirational tool. Anne Frank herself was “imprisoned” for two years while in hiding and then was literally imprisoned in concentration camps during the last seven months of her life simply because she was Jewish. This program encourages prisoners to utilize the same means of self-expression—writing a diary—that Anne used to endure her imprisonment while in hiding. One hundred award winning PEN prison writers were invited to participate in the AFC diary writing project. Others asked to be included. As of today, 170 prisoners have been sent a copy of A Diary of a Young Girl, a blank journal, and a pamphlet on diary writing. Participants agreed to keep their own diaries, write about their lives and thoughts, and return their journals to The Anne Frank Center for possible publication on the Internet and in print. The enclosed prison diary excerpts have been read by more than 7000 people online. These entries are about everyday human experiences. Many express that Anne Frank has inspired them to be courageous and hopeful and to use their time wisely. With the global rise in anti-Semitism
and the proliferation of Holocaust denial on the Internet, including attacks on the authenticity of her diary, Anne Frank’s message of equality and respect for others is highly relevant to the world today. This is especially true in U.S. prisons, where racism continues to be widespread. In 2013, Not Shut Up plans to run a similar project in UK prisons with the help of Anne Frank Trust UK – but more on that in our next issue!
William / Roberts Unit / Abilene, Texas
’ve been rather forgetful of late, of course I’m still trying to get into the habit of writing. To start off, something I failed to mention in my last entry, that I finished A.F.’s diary. I liked it. It gave a lot of insight into the mind of a teenage girl of 60 years ago. I don’t believe girls have changed too terribly much. Of course knowing that she died in one of the camps days before being liberated… Why anyone would hate another person so much that they could condemn a person to sure death. Of course whoever turned them in should’ve minded their own business. It has gotten too hot! Almost unbearably so. All you can do is lay under a fan to cool off and take a shower to wash some of the sweat off. But I must endure for I will
survive this sentence. Not only because I didn’t commit the dreadful crime but because I have family out there that want me to be free. Plus I want to be free.
Rik / e.O.C.e / Pendleton, Oregon
astern Oregon Correctional Institution: in this observer’s eyes, the old state hospital building (1910) looks much the same on the outside. Four stories, stucco; with ornamental iron barred windows. Four buildings with a central fifth administration (building). In a reformist mood, the inmates were expelled toward community care. Unfortunately, the funding was insufficient to be successful. A double wire fence, with razor wire ribbons and bows was used to encompass the site, thus creating a medium security prison. Inside the two units, two 4-man cells, (and) the other two dormitory style completed the quickie new facility. An honors unit and a segregation unit were remodeled from nurses’ housing. It’s not a warehouse concrete box style structure which is appreciated by some. However, it is a warehouse! Of the 1,600 prisoners, approximately 300 have jobs performing the chores of group living. 100 work in the clothing manufacturing department earning $100 - $15 a month, minus room and board! 200 or so attend school part-time progressing albeit slowly, to obtain a G.E.D. All of this is very part-time. The rest; TV is an opiate
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PEN America Center
fish story. No matter how many ways you sugar coat it. A lie is a lie. That’s what made me a good author. Putting lies on paper. I’m being moved today. Why? I don’t know. They tell me I’m moving to a Faith and Character dorm. I hate change. I hate moving. I know a few people over there so it won’t be a problem. This program looks good by the parole board so moving to Faith and Character here I come. I got to go. They are here to pack me up.
Arthur / MCC/WSRU / Monroe Washington
Illustration / Matthew Meadows
of the masses while church services offer an illusionary escape. Yard time once a day, rain or shine is a high point of the day. A person must be motivated to create an improvement plan and then actualize growth on their own. This can be difficult in this environment, but not impossible! From the Oregon Department of corrections, January 2008: Cost per inmate per day $78.00 Prison population 13,752 Median age (5,552) 31 – 45 No high school 44% Illiterate 20% No legit job 53% Substance abuse 67% Mentally ill (serious) 20% Some degree of mental health needs 50% Recidivism Rate 31.3%
MaNeysa / Lee Arrendale State Prison / Alto, Georgia
t makes me so sad to know (my husband) couldn’t make it on his own and that he was dependant on me as I depended on him… How could he forget walking on the sands of the Bahamas, the museums in North Carolina, traveling through the tunnels in Virginia, up Ruby mountain where I was so scared cause we drove along the edge. What about New Orleans? When we sold all our beauty salon stuff on Saturday and Sunday we got out of there in time before Katrina hit. How many lies have you told? Boy I told so many. I think I believed some myself. Falsehood, untruth, fiction, inaccuracy, misstatement, myth, fable, deceptiveness, misrepresentation, lying, prevarication, falsification, falseness, defamation, fabrication, deception, slander, aspersion, tale, perjury. Libel, fib, white lie, or even a
e were allowed out to the big yard this morning and I went with the hope of catching sight of the young osprey that has been hanging around the prison recently. Last week he landed on one of the lights above the wall and I was able to get a good look at him. He at me, as well. No sight of the osprey today, though. It was warm early and the only birds to see were starlings, a small group in the grass on the far side of the yard. They are always here because they don’t migrate, the prison is their home. I have watched enough generations of them live out their lives here, go from chicks to death, to be able to tell you with certainty that they don’t go anywhere. I like to watch birds – which is strange when you consider that I have spent many years of my life in IMU (maximumsecurity) where I was unable to see them. There you are confined only to a small cell, you don’t get to see outside. Then again, maybe it is because of that experience that I have gained this appreciation for them. I don’t think I had it before they put me in that place. The starlings in the yard this morning were parents with their offspring. Although the young ones were no smaller than the adults, they were easy to pick out because
“Some of us read Anne Frank’s Diary on Robben Island and derived much encouragement of it.” Nelson Mandela www.notshutup.co.uK 37
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Anne Frank Trust UK
Anne Frank Trust UK The Anne Frank Trust UK began after a touring exhibition, Anne Frank in the World 1929-1945, came to Bournemouth in 1989. The original exhibition was created and run by the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam. The impact of the exhibition was so great that it inspired three people to set up a charity. Their aim was to spread the messages of Anne’s life and diary across the UK. Their Prisons Programme is a flexible programme of events which can be held over 1 or 2 weeks at a time to suit you.
Illustration / Matthew Meadows
of their coloring and the way they behaved. While the adults searched the grass for food – thrusting their heads down into it and looking around, then taking a few steps and repeating the process – their fledglings followed raising a ruckus, squawking and shaking their wings. The only time the youngsters were quiet was when one of their patents stuffed a bug into their throat. As soon as they got it down they would begin squawking again. Sometimes while I am watching birds, thoughts come to me – like the one I had this morning. As I watched the starlings, I couldn’t help but recognize a correlation between them and a specific group of prisoners – those who were raised by the state in its institutions. They, too, were brought up to be where they are.
Free people, I suspect, would think that is ridiculous to say that, but that is only because they don’t know what it is like – what growing up in those places teaches you, and what it doesn’t. It doesn’t prepare you for life in civilized society. The only thing a young person raised by the state is fit for is this right here. I’ve been in long enough to see that cycle play itself out too, generation after generation – I’m thinking of Bucky (my cellmate) now, one of the most recent generation. Is it fair to write this? To believe it? My own generation comes to mind now, those who grew up with me in those places. Yes, I think it is fair… because I can’t think of a single instance where it wasn’t true.
There are four elements of the programme: The prison hosts an exhibition; Anne Frank: A History for Today, which incorporates panels specially designed for use in prisons and young offenders institutions. The exhibition explores Anne’s story and the history of the Holocaust, and links it to contemporary themes including prejudice and stereotyping. A group of prisoners are trained as peer educators to present the exhibition. AFT deliver workshops to enhance knowledge of the Holocaust and related subjects; a creative writing and self-exploration workshop ‘Moving Words’, and an interactive debate around Human rights issues called ‘Free 2 Choose’. Where possible, AFT arrange for a talk from a Holocaust survivor with a Q&A session. Next month, we will focus more on the work ANNE FRANK TRUST UK does with prisons...
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Story SLAM: Live
The literary X-factor!
Interview with Joanne Donovan, founder of Story SLAM: Live
riters are offered the opportunity to compete in a live story telling event before an audience drawn from all interest groups involved with creative writing. This could include the writers, ‘talent-spotters’ (e.g. literary trusts, academics, agents) and readers. Each entrant brings a short story that has to be performed within a strict 5 min time limit. The winner is selected by a panel of three judges who are made up of ‘experts’ in the literary field. StorySLAM:Live in Jails / Slamming Gates is a project being piloted in Holloway this spring, with support from Not Shut Up, where writers will run day-long workshops in helping prisoners write, perform and also analyse and feedback about the writing itself. A StorySLAM:Live in Jails event will hopefully be included in the Koestler event in 2013, this time featuring the best writing from offenders performed by ex-offenders themselves. We then aim to produce a StorySLAM:Live in Jails toolkit to be rolled out nationally in 2014, allowing all prisons to run their version of the live story telling “slam”.
Story SLAM:Live is a unique platform for the creative writing community in London. Each event is a story ‘SLAM’: a live showcase that provides an arena for writers to present their writing, benchmark their work amongst their peers, share experiences, network and find out about the creative writing community. nsup: Tell us about yourself and how you came to run Story Slam: Live). Joanne Donovan: Ever since I can remember, I’ve had a love of books and all things literary. Losing myself in a good story –well that’s my idea of heaven. I’ve always had an idea that I might write myself one day and about 5 years ago I decided to follow my dream. I soon discovered that it’s quite a lonely pastime - writing. Also, how do you know if you are any good? Are you a writer if you are not published? That’s where the idea for StorySLAM:Live came from – the X Factor for writers. We provide the missing link between aspiring writers and the talent spotters of the literary world.
nsup: How does it differ from the usual chaos that are poetry slams?
JD: Can’t really comment on chaotic.
All I know is that StorySLAM:Live is established on the Live Literature circuit in London as the place to go to hear quality flash fiction. We aim to combine serious purpose with a fun night out. Writers need a space to be with other writers. Our team combine to provide a quality experience with music & visuals from Rizomorph and the best of hosting from our resident MC Charlie Dark. We have plenty of experience of what works for the audience. Everyone who comes to StorySLAM:Live leaves with a smile on their face.
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Slamming Gates Project
nsup: Does it do more than just allow writers
five minutes of stand-up fame? JD: Well, we make no apology for the five minutes of stand up fame, we’re all about getting the writer out there. However, we also aim to find progression routes for writers. Our judges are drawn from the literary industry. We work with Spread The Word – a writers’ development agency based in London. We are lucky to have Samar, an experienced literary agent, as a member of the panel. Our entrants have gone on to win literary competitions such as Mslexia – and have credited StorySLAM:Live with giving them the confidence to do so. Here’s what one entrant Stuart Duncan has to say: “Having read short story extracts from my novel Bar Code and been commended at StorySLAM:Live previously I would like to say this was encouraging. I now have a contract with Anarchy Books for epublication – its available from 5th November 2012 from Amazon or Anarchy books. So StorySLAM:Live does encourage success!”
nsup: How did the collaboration with
Koestler come about? Southbank is such a prestigious location for live literature! JD: We love our home at the Southbank. It’s a great opportunity for our writers to perform at one of Europe’s most iconic venues. Our entrants get a taste of reading their work on the same stage as some of the world best contemporary writers. Our collaboration with Koestler was a joint event as part of their annual exhibition at Southbank Centre. It’s a major exhibition of prison art and Koestler were looking for opportunities to showcase the winners of their creative writing competition. We were delighted to feature the winning stories in our special guest slot.
the saying goes. It’s true, we do all have stories and some are more interesting than others. The ability to tell our stories – especially in writing, is something everyone should have access to. We believe that by offering this opportunity to prisoners, their families and friends we will bring new stories to the literary stage and promote understanding between people. As to the crazy problems… well we are working closely with HMP Holloway staff to ensure the experience runs as smoothly as possible. So far – so good. We’ll let you know what happens…
nsup: What are the long term plans for Slamming Gates?
JD: The Holloway project is a pilot based
on the model we take into schools. We are delighted to be developing this together with English PEN and Not Shut Up. We’re going to see how it goes and then use our experience to roll out the competition so it becomes available to every prisoner who wants to write.
Over the page you can see some images from the Story SLAM: Live Special event NSUP took part in last year, as part of the Koestler Exhibition events season at Southbank Centre, London.
nsup: What makes you want to go
through the crazy problems of trying to run workshops and live events in prisons, especially those involving families and members of the public? JD: Everyone’s got a story to tell – so
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Slamming Gates Project
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Writing for screen & stage
Anon / HMP Long Lartin Highly Commended Screen Play
Ext. City Street. Afternoon. The year 1995 on the screen. The music and clothes etc. should all indicate 1995. We see a schoolboy walking. Two well-dressed individuals are watching him. We see their trainers, their car, their bling, their watches, the women who are with them. The boy notices them.
BusY: You’re Sandra’s little boy. What you doing out of school?
toM: Free session. BusY: You eaten lunch yet? toM: Mum never had no money today.
Wrong choice A
BUSY takes out a £20 note and gives it to him.
BusY: Here. Go to the shop. Buy something
for yourself and get me some Lucozade and Clingfilm. We see TOM go into the shop. The gang watch him.
Ext. After school. Another day. An alley. We see BUSY give another boy a package. BUSY is close and confidential with TOM.
BusY: You go with him. You run along with Rufus. You watch and learn.
TOM and RUFUS cycle off with it.
Ext. The estate. Under a stairwell. RUFUS hands the package over to a man. He’s given an envelope in return. The man disappears.
RuFus: That’s how we do it. This is how we deal with it.
Ext. Different end of the estate. A street. Another day. RUFUS and TOM on bikes. A man stops them. Two other men appear. The man pulls a knife and holds it to RUFUS’ throat. RUFUS hands him the package. The
This piece from the KOESTLER West Midlands selection is an example of writing for the screen and stage, something we also want to feature more of in Not Shut Up. Being able to write realistic stories and descriptions is one aspect of the art of writing, but being able to write believable dialogues is a whole other story. How do you think this early section of script will pan out? How would you finish it? Will the next Tarantino come out of a British prison? We hope so…
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Writing for screen & stage
other two men start slapping TOM around. The men snatch the bikes and the boys run off.
on my acre. Int. The estate
RuFus: Punk them, fools.
toM: What Busy say?
RuFus: Busy p**sed. Make sure you have my
Ext. The estate. Later the boys are walking back.
toM: What we gonna tell Busy? RuFus: Let me ring him. He rings. CUT TO: Int. BUSY’s place.
BusY: Hello? Wah gwan? Yo darg. CUT TO: Int. The estate.
RuFus: They rob us for the package. CUT TO: Int. BUSY’s place
BusY: Wah yu say? Make sure you have my
money or my package or do not float back on my acre.
toM: What we gonna do? RuFus: Me have a little ting lock at my
Int. RUFUS’ kitchen. RUFUS sticks his head round the door.
RuFus: Tom, lets go.
Int. On the estate. Outside the lifts RUFUS shows TOM the gun. TOM looks scared and fidgety. He’s worried about passers-by.
RuFus: Don’t worry, man.
toM: Where you get that from?
Int. RUFUS’ bedroom. RUFUS gets something out of the closet and puts it inside his jacket. We follow him downstairs. CUT TO:
RuFus: You ask too much question. Ya police? Don’t watch nuttin’. I got you. toM: We don’t need no gun. RuFus: How you think we gonna get back
the package? You think this is a joke thing?
money or my package or do not float back
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The quilt project returns to Holloway – a 100 years on
rom the 5th of June, the weekend of the Jubilee, right through the roar of the Olympics and on into the quieter days of autumn, the charity worked alongside women in Holloway prison to record what they would like to remember from their year, and then it was all sewn together into one massive, queen size quilt. Altogether around 130 women took part in the workshops, which allowed them to develop ideas about what was personally important to them about the year, and to refine this down to a single word, phrase or picture to fit onto a 15 cm fabric square. Later in the project, smaller groups of women came together to do the allimportant needlework. The inspiration for the project came from a quilt made by the Suffragettes, which contained the names of women imprisoned in Holloway as a result of their public protests for the right to vote. The Quilt made by BirdWord uses materials recycled from the prison itself. Prison curtains, bed sheets and pillowcases are all included in the design. Some of the white squares written on by the women are made from officers’ shirts and the black border is made from their trousers. Indeed, the making of the Quilt wouldn’t have been possible without the support (and clothing) of a great many Holloway staff.* BirdWord works outside, as well as inside prisons, and the Quilt is now set
During the summer of 2012, while the country was focused on the sparkle of the Diamond Jubilee and the glint of gold medals, BirdWord was working with treasure of a different kind.
to be shown in a number of community venues, including at The London Feminist Network Conference on 26th October. If you’d like to come and see the Quilt, or to get involved in one of our creative, wordbased projects, drop us a line at birdword@
hotmail.co.ok and we’ll send you details of upcoming events. *BirdWord would also like to thank EQS who supplied needles, threads and sewing equipment.
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Big achievements in little squares Alana Enderson, one of the project participants, talks about her experience of working on the quilt with Ella Simpson, one of the BirdWord staff and a Not Shut Up trustee. Since the early 20th century things have gotten much better for women and we’ll all carry on improving, because we know that everybody matters and we’re all human beings, no matter what we’ve done. I first met BirdWord when they came up on D3 on a Saturday afternoon and asked us if we wanted to do a square for a quilt they were making for a project. They were telling us about these birds called the Suffragettes. I didn’t have a clue, but apparently they chained themselves to railings outside government buildings. The Suffragettes made a quilt like we’ve done, and they were imprisoned in Holloway 100 years ago – so good people come to prison as well. At the time of the Suffragettes, women couldn’t vote, and even now, though women can vote, we’re still not listened to. So my point is, the Suffragettes stood up for what was right and what they believed in, and they kept going no matter how tough it got, and no matter what stood in their way.
My square was for me very emotional and inspirational to be able to do, and to be a part of the quilt project. It was important to be heard as a person, in my own right, who’s got real feelings and a real life even though I’m in prison. I have done something wrong, I’m paying the price and whilst I’m here I’m trying to better my self and to improve my life while I have the chance. I’m not just sitting around waiting for the gate to open. When I did my square it made me look at my life and what’s important to me and to
wake up and stand up, to make something of my life. I want to be heard and to be heard in a good way; for doing something that will make a difference in life, and for my children to see that I love them enough to change my ways and make amends. I’d like to try and make the world a better place, even if it’s only a little drop in this big ocean, and if we all give a little, the ocean will never run dry. All we can do is carry on improving, you’ve just got to be prepared to work hard and try, and keep on trying. And if we can come this far from 1903 to 2012, just imagine what we can achieve in 2050, 2060 and beyond.
I want the public to see us as real people not as numbers. We know that we have done wrong, but we really want to put things right, if you’ll just hear us and give us a chance. Prisoners are forgotten about – if you’re not seen, you’re not heard. We’re locked up, but we do have feelings and dreams, and they might all have been crushed, but we’re putting it all back together. Even though we’re behind brick walls and metal doors, we’re thinking and feeling, emotional, loving, caring, happy, sad, black, white, all religions, people with real lives and feelings, and that’s how we’ve expressed them in the quilt for you all to see. We all hope that you enjoy our quilt, where we all come together, as one, regardless of everything.
Suffrage: Right to vote, strong voice, to be included, equal rights, to bring every woman together and fight for what’s right www.notshutup.co.uK 45
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Devon / HMP Unknown
Plain curtains hang where once was chintz. I wish I’d wiped those fingerprints. I lived the life, I drove nice cars, my life then, like now, was spent in bars My dad died, that bloody tumour, yet I still keep his sense of humour. Dad’s funeral wish was to go somewhere hot, it was exactly what he got, although for him a little belated, last Tuesday when he was cremated
Crosses at the Roadside Alan Hunt / HMP Long Lartin
Mangled wreckage, broken glass, the signs of tragedy were there. Skid marks on the tarmac, the smell of petrol hanging in the air. A case of carelessness or misadventure, youth or bragging rights can bring needless desolation to each day and every night. When the road had been reopened and the carnage swept away and it looked like any other in the clear light of day, all enquiries were concluded and everyone had left the scene with nothing left to show the devastation that had been. Another lost soul, a hand-made reminder at the side of the road, a cross that marks the passing of a friend we used to know. A scattering of flowers, a picture there for us to see and brightly coloured ribbons wrapped around a nearby tree. Objects of memorial placed strategically to catch the eye, those involuntary glances from the traffic passing by. Subconscious seeds cultivated in a barren brain in hope their presence serves to stop another loved one’s pain. No father grieving at the roadside, mother crying at his breast. No orphaned children sobbing, clutching photos to their chest. A shrine won’t end the tears of family, friends or lovers but serve a stern reminder that today there may be others.
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A group poem / HMP Downview
Anne’s life is a journey on a narrow way, smooth initially, gradually turning into a walk, barefoot, on thorns. It is a journey across the River Styx with only the ferryman for company Anne’s life is like weather, she shed a rain of tears, a life like British weather, not much sunshine, but always rain Anne’s life is a strange tangy taste, sweet and sour. Her life is the sound of a beating wing that leaves a lingering disturbance Anne’s life says to me “You should never underestimate the intelligence of a young mind and its dreams” Anne’s life started as a whisper and left behind a memory as loud as a thunder clap Anne’s life is the rhyme of songs, a scar, long there, never to fade Anne’s life suddenly became a rollercoaster, children’s toys scattered everywhere, like a cluttered wardrobe I say to Anne, ‘Where was your God?’ Anne’s life is a constant sandstorm, biting, cutting, a constant flow of anguish and pain assaulting her innocence
Songs Of Sadness Jimmy Brand / HMP Unknown
There she blows in the harbinger’s path Mother’s searching cry for her lost calf Echoes the harpoon gun School scatter! Crash! Dive! Run! Pull hard, life blood spilling out Crimson plumes breach and spout Kiss death, held, barbed to its sting Creaking whine of steel teeth Winch reeling in. Sweet slaughter stench sours the stream To a mute, mindless shore Nature’s awe butchered in lust For the bespoke restaurateur Red rivers cast ever deeper Into the abyss of abounding sea Warm artic waste, a spectre’s sanctuary Will wonder survive to blow and fall? On crests of white thunder Singing songs of sadness to us all With the beat in your heart Feel the rhythm of their call.
Anne’s life is a leaf planted by the stream, it receives strength but it is not fluid. Anne’s heart is the light, bright burning sun, all warm and fuzzy Anne’s journey is not over. It will never be over….
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Donald S-W / HMP Unknown
My life is as unpredictable as an incense stick, Burning away but in a complete darkness, So dark and the smoke so thick, I cannot see when it will have completeness, The length undetermined as I cannot see, I cannot guarantee, It will stay lit until its end, But to you this parody I send, A drawn line is like my life From beginning to end.
All Is Something In My Sight G. / HMP Unknown
Start off as a seed, No worries of the world, Protected by a layer of bed, Until you shoot off in the world, Hopes are high, you almost touch the sky, The horizon expands around you, Including your inner self, You begin to realise, The world is not what you expected, Pollution, filth, Weathering begins to take its toll on you. Your blossom begins to deteriorate, But never stop hoping For a better day, Remembering, After every hardship comes ease.
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C. A. R. H. / HMP Unknown
My life is an endless complex of anxiety, with every day turning into torture. I pray to be released from this state, and I have hope that this can happen one day. My hope is like an eternal flame that leads me on through the grim days, the hope that is implicit in my developing faith and trust in God. When this faith becomes strong enough, and I pray every day that this will happen, then I will have the confidence to know that God is in charge and that my good is close to His heart. My anxieties will be eased. I will be a transformed person. I know that the change can only be gradual, but I pray with all my heart for Godâ€™s transforming grace.
E. Ampofo / HMP Unknown
Oh, prison, you have remained As a source of my peacefulness That has increased my inspiration To show how to take orders That will create newness in my soul. You are the prize to my own realisation That institutes a song on my name As an organ. Continue to pay me for my own acts Whenever I sit on my bed To remember your name. Oh, prison, you clarify my struggle In serene living In a world that accepts me most.
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Not Shut Up Academy
Not Shut Up Academy opening in London… After a decade of publishing Not Shut Up from our own homes, it is time to get serious – thanks to the generosity of Lambeth Council, we have secured a building in Oval, London in which to set up a proper editorial office.
ut it will not just be a place for our regular staff – it is also the start of our NOT SHUT UP ACADEMY, where we will work with those who have been in custody on new publishing and media initiatives. There are numerous prisoners who have written book-length stories and journalism which are unlikely to see the light of day in conventional formats. By training those who have been “unfree” to understand publishing formats and sales processes, giving them the skills and tools to put this training into practice and helping them become arts entrepreneurs of the future, we will share their work with the wider world and help turn their art into profit, something particularly important for artists who come from dis-privileged backgrounds.
Write for Not Shut Up
“Most writers start writing because there’s something they need to get out of their heads and onto a piece of paper. They have
a story they need to share... good writing – really good writing – is not something you do just for yourself but something you do for other people.” Mark Haddon Whatever your reason for writing, we want to read your work to publish in our magazine! We are also very keen to hear from those writing upon release from custody – if your stuff is good, we will pay for publication of any of the following: •Comics •Essays •Journalism •Life writing •Plays •Poetry •Prose •Reviews •Song lyrics
The Not Shut Up survey Spring 2013 Books behind bars In preparation for the opening of our NOT SHUT UP ACADEMY, we are interested in hearing from or about anyone who has been behind bars and has a book idea to talk to us about. If you are a writer or a teacher or a librarian or a member of staff or family or simply know someone who has been in a secure hospital, immigration centre, children’s home or any other form of custody – and who has written or is writing a book – we want to hear from you. It does not matter if the book is long or short, a cracking best-seller or a collection of children’s poems, if it was written “inside” or already “on the out”, whether it is about prison or about anything but – we want to hear from you! Write to us at the usual address – you never know, it might lead to a publishing contract...
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Not Shut Up News
Managing Editor: Marek Kazmierski Poetry Editor: Anna Robinson Art Editor: Matthew Meadows Creative Director: Phil Tristram Thanks to our Trustees: Tim Firmston Simon Kirwin Sarah Leipciger Simon Miles Annette Prandzioch Kate Pullinger (Chair) Raphael Rowe Ella Simpson Jane Wynn (Treasurer)
Not Shut Up is a registered charity (Charity No. 1090610) and a company limited by guarantee (registered in London No. 4260355).
NOT SHUT UP received initial encouragement from the Writers In Prison Network, and funds from Arts Council England, our major supporter for the first three years. We have also received support in the past from the Batty Trust, the David Hammond Charitable Foundation, the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, Garden Court, the City & Metropolitan Welfare Fund, the Mercer’s Company and the Tudor Trust. More recently we have gained support from the following: 29 May 1961 Trust Anton Jurgens Charitable Trust Authors’ Licensing & Collecting Society Bonus Trust Coutts Charitable Trust Eleanor Rathbone Charitable Trust English PEN Foyle Foundation Garfield Weston Foundation Garrick Charitable Trust Harold Hyam Wingate Foundation Jessie Spencer Trust J Paul Getty Jr. Charitable Trust Goldsmiths’ Company Lady Hind Trust
Winners from issue 21 Koestler special
Koestler Trust Lankelly Chase Foundation Leigh Trust Michael Varah Memorial Fund Norda Trust Royal London Society Swan Mountain Trust Topinambour Trust W.F. Southall Trust Writers In Prison Network Our website is kindly sponsored by the Michael Varah Memorial Fund.
Order now for three issues, priced £3.50, to be sent to you p&p included for just £9.50. Cut out and send the coupon to BCM NOT SHUT UP PO Box 12 London WC1N 3XX
Each receives a £15 cheque The Valley p 51 Anon / HMP Frankland Buried treasure p35 Peter / HMP Wandsworth With Mum at the station p 11 Maddison / HMP Shrewsbury Green Hornet p50 Anon / HMP Frankland Blue screen of mirth p 9 Michael / HMP Long Lartin
Please send me three issues for one year. I enclose a cheque / postal order for £9.50
Prizes kindly sponsored by Jeffrey Archer
✁ www.notshutup.co.uK 51
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Art behind bars
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!
art-alIve arts trust employs the therapeutic and
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
Art-Alive Arts Trust, C/O The House of St Barnabas, 1 Greek Street, London W1D 4NQ
Inside Job Productions, 16 Hoxton Square, London N1 6NT
educational benefits of art tuition and work with two groups: 1) young people of primary school age with behavioural and or learning difficulties and 2) ex-offenders and offenders in prison.
clean breaK is a theatre company with an independent
education programme. Both strands of their work are rooted in the belief that theatre changes lives. Clean Break 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
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
the Irene taylor trust ‘MusIc In PrIsons’
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.
delivers high quality creative music projects in prisons throughout the UK and has worked at the forefront of arts and rehabilitation since 1995. Bringing music-making to men and women of all ages, the Trust provides positive experiences and helps in the process of rehabilitation, education and the forming of life skills
Fine Cell Work, 38 Buckingham Palace Road, London SW1W 0RE
The Irene Taylor Trust ‘Music in Prisons’, Unit 401, Bon Marche Centre, 241 Ferndale Road, London SW9 8BJ
Geese theatre coMPany is a team of actors and group workers who present interactive drama and conduct workshops, staff training and consultation within the Criminal Justice System.
only connect works to prevent crime by helping offenders
Geese Theatre Co., Woodbridge House, 9 Woodbridge Road, Birmingham B13 8EH
Only Connect, York House, 207-221 Pentonville Road, London N1 9UZ
restore their lives practically and emotionally. They assist members in the seven pathways to reducing re-offending used by the National Offender Management Service.
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Art behind bars
Playing for Time TheaTre ComPany stages plays with prisoners and undergraduate students working together. Students act as mentors helping prisoners with aspects of their performance, for example, line-learning and aspects of selfpresentation and performance.
Playing For Time Theatre Company, c/o Annie McKean, Faculty of Arts, University of Winchester, Sparkford Road, Winchester, Hampshire SO22 4NR
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, London SW2 5XF
rideouT (Creative Arts for Rehabilitation) was established in 1999 in order to develop innovative, arts-based approaches to working with prisoners and staff within UK prisons. They have retained a special emphasis on working in the Midlands where the company is based. Rideout, The Roslyn Works, Uttoxeter Road, Stoke-on-Trent ST3 1PQ
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.
synergy TheaTre ProjeCT works towards rehabilitation with prisoners and ex-prisoners through theatre and related activities whilst placing the wider issues surrounding imprisonment in the public arena. Established in 1999. Synergy Theatre Project, 8 St Thomas Street, London SE1 9RR
TiPP work from the belief that theatre and related arts have the
power to transform people’s lives. They develop and implement participatory arts projects and undertake training for artists and for professionals working in the Criminal Justice System. TiPP, The Martin Harris Building, The University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9PL
WriTers in Prison foundaTion are one of the
premier arts in prison organisations in the UK working towards raising self esteem and discovering hidden talents amongst both offenders and staff. Writers in Prison Foundation, P.O.Box 71, Welshpool SY21 0WB
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 one-person exhibitions for prison artists – all part of finding wider audiences for the masses of lockedup talent – and unlocking it. I work as an artist too, doing lots of drawing and printing strange political wallpaper…
Storybook Dads, HMP Dartmoor, Princetown, Yelverton, Devon PL20 6RR
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Ex-prison artist going strong! An exhibition of paintings and other artwork by Birmingham-based artist Garvey opens this coming July, as part of the 40th anniversary celebrations of Adullam Homes.
arvey has an expressive, colourful style which communicates feeling very distinctly: “My work helps me release my emotions, it reflects the mood I am in - when I am happy my work is bright, colourful and smiley, when I am feeling melancholy my work is subdued and not so smiley, a lot more tears.” He uses acrylic paint, as well as graphic media like pastels. Founded in 1972, Adullam Homes Housing Association works across the West Midlands with some of the most vulnerable and excluded people in society, providing them with housing and support. As well as young people leaving care, those recovering from drug and alcohol addiction, people living with mental health problems, vulnerable excluded families, refugees and asylum seekers, young men at risk of becoming involved in the gun and gang culture, Adullam helps ex-prisoners with housing and mentoring support. It was during his last sentence that Garvey’s art really took off, and he gained quite a few Koestler Awards for pictures submitted by his prison art teacher Paula. He recently commented that “The Koestler programme made me realise how art can inspire and unleash a talent within you. My passion for abstract and expressionist art started while I was in custody, through the Koestler programme. This programme is a great driver of delivering art within
prisons to people like me who never had the inclination to do any sort of art before entering into custody.” Since leaving custody, he has been supported by Adullam Homes’ Young Men at Risk (YMAR) project based in the West Midlands that provides housing, mentoring and training opportunities leading to employment. Garvey has also been supported by Dorcas Housing and Community Support Association Ltd based in the West Midlands, in converting his artistic pursuits into reality. Garvey’s exhibition opens at Rowan Court, 92 Herbert Road, Small Heath, Birmingham B10 0PR, on Friday 5th July, from 1pm. Phone 0121 500 2828 for further details. We will be publishing a review of the exhibition in a future issue, hopefully accompanied by an interview with the artist.
NOT SHUT UP artwork appeal PORTRAITS: Most wings have a portrait artist producing great portraits of partners, children, girlfriends, boyfriends etc. We want to feature the best of this traditional prison art form, so if you’re a portrait artist, or know a good one, send us photocopies if you can. Perhaps an officer or education tutor can help with this. MODEL-MAKING: Another traditional prison art/craft form, usually - but not always - using matchsticks. Again, if you do this or know someone who does, try to get them photographed. Not easy in prison, but maybe an art tutor might help. Finally, any art work will be considered for publication: biro drawings, graffiti, paintings, tattoos... We are also looking for a cartoonist to provide a waspish commentary on life inside, contained within 3-4 frames. Could you do this for three issues a year? Matthew Meadows, Art Editor BCM Not Shut Up PO Box 12 London WC1 3XX or Freepost RRXA-AHGR-ZCZL It’s best to send photocopies - I can’t always guarantee to return original work.
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Kissing Tears / garvey / acrylic on canvas
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Next door / donald Grayson / Acrylic on canvas
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