Inside Poetry (Voices From Prison)
(2009) Inside Time
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Prison and poetry don’t seem like two words that fit together. Prison and drugs would be more obvious. Or prison and violence. Or maybe prison and cockroaches. Badly run prisons with badly behaved prisoners, like Birmingham recently or Liverpool not so long ago or Exeter, give all prisoners a bad name.
But there is another side to the story. This year I’ve edited a collection of poetry written by prisoners. It’s the seventh volume published by Inside Time the national newspaper for prisoners where all the poems have already appeared. This volume covers four years. With Victoria Grey, of the charity Give a Book, I’ve chosen the best. It also has the first Pinter prize in honour of playwright, Harold Pinter and given by his widow Antonia Fraser.
It’s good to look behind the obvious, and these 200 pages show men and women who feel love, shame, joy, terrible sadness and hope for a better future. There is anger too, but often against themselves. How could they have got to where they are? These poems tell more about life behind bars than a hundred television reports or newspaper articles. A free copy of the book is in every prison library and it can also be ordered from Inside Time (£9.99).