When Times Get HardReino Unido

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When Times Get Hard

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This is an award-winning collection of poems and short prose (Koestler, Silver Award, 2021). It derives from a collaborative project between the women at HMP Downview, the librarians Kathryn Walter, Clare Canavan and Rebecca Lee, and the university researchers Lucy Bell (University of Surrey) and Joey Whitfield (Cardiff University). Before the Covid-19 pandemic, the plan was to run a series of cartonera (cardboard book-making and writing) workshops – “Creative Writing with a Twist of Art”. The programme was about to start when Covid-19 struck and all Downview’s library group sessions and workshops were suspended indefinitely. This was hugely disappointing, but we carried on working together remotely, and developed an idea for an in-cell creative writing project, which involved a structured programme with a printed coursebook to work through, entitled Creative Writing in Prison. This was accompanied by a DVD full of advice from an international line-up of writers and artists. The manual and DVD are designed so that participants’ engagement level is very flexible – you can complete the whole thing or just dip into the sections that interest you. We (Clare and Kathryn) advertised the project to all residents and 20 women signed up. Gradually and with a little cajoling, examples of residents’ writing were received by the library: one or two women sent a couple of poems, others sent notebooks full of drafts and writing. For library staff it was a fantastic opportunity to meet some of the women who had arrived during lockdown, and great to read some of their writing. Feedback was positive, perhaps the best comments were: “it opened up my brain to new ideas; and I’m really glad I’ve stated this new course! I’m learning how to teach others how to make positive change”. For the 2021 Koestler awards, the library team selected a range of texts resulting from this project, written by five HMP Downview residents: Xinia, Sonia, T’Nisha, A, and Katie. The collection opens with a grim depiction of imprisonment, progresses through powerful snapshots of the strange and grotesque experiences resulting from sharing cells with other people - other bodies in all their sensoriality - and accounts of the tedium of day-to-day prison routines, and finishes with poems expressing some of the human emotions most necessary to survival in confinement: hope and love. We would like to take this opportunity to thank all the contributors to this project, who have managed to put pen to paper in one of the most challenging circumstances of imprisonment: a global pandemic. In particular, we are grateful to the five authors who have contributed to this collection, all of whose voices come through with strength and conviction. Clare Canavan, Kathryn Walter, Lucy Bell & Joey Whitfield 24th May 2021

Año: 2021
Pais: Reino Unido
Editorial: Cartonera Publishing
Colaborador: Lucy Bell, Cartonera Publishing