In exactly 7 days - which is only 168 hours - we will reach the end of this Kickstarter campaign. So far we are more than 70% funded - thank you all SO MUCH for getting behind this project!
We're not quite there yet, we just need to raise another £800 - we can definitely do it. Please continue to tell your friends - share our project on social media or via email, so we can bring WINGS to fruition...!
Earlier this month, while having a new year clear out, I found a stack of mostly unused exercise books. One, however, contained a few notes scribbled by one of the men who participated in our project at HMP Wandsworth. Let's call him Prisoner A.
This particular notebook contains just three pages of writing that was a response to a class storytelling exercise about opposites. Wallis and I would devise various creative games and exercises to use with the men, to loosen up their creativity. We’d come up with this particular ‘opposites’ exercise specifically for Prisoner A because we’d noticed that not only did he struggle to write, he’d frame a lot of his spoken statements as contradictions. I privately suspected that Prisoner A had literacy problems.
Turns out I was wrong.
The opposites game consisted of a list of opposite word pairs - black/white, in/out, open/closed, red/green, guilty/innocent, etc, etc - all daubed on a whiteboard. Everyone then (including Wallis and me, who always took part in the exercises along with everyone else) had 5 minutes or so to write a paragraph, or a poem, or whatever, using all the words. Some responded less well to this task than others, but it seemed to bring out the best in Prisoner A...
One of his 5 minute writing exercises is reproduced here.
Inside prison I have felt claustrophobic
Outside prison is a whole new world
Darkness means another day is done
Light means the cycle is starting again
Asleep I have been blessed recently with vivid dreams
Behind me is old news.
In front are new chapters
The past will be my building blocks
The future is bright. The future is orange.
On the next page was written:
“I closed the door quickly. You have to keep your mind open, I kept telling myself. They was hot on my trail. My heart had turned cold many years ago. Black as the plague. Grey clouds have no white lining. I hoped I could find something to keep the door shut. I reminded myself fear was an emotion that had no value by this stage. Love had got me in this position in the first place. Hate would get me out of it. The room was empty. I was not full of hope."
Many of the men we worked with were emotionally conflicted about a lot of things. Many felt guilt about families they'd left behind, or confusion about choices that had led them to prison. For some, like Prisoner A, prison had become a revolving door, almost a natural progression from being raised in the care system - a sort of grim finishing school.
Looking at Prisoner A's poem, I wonder why he stumbled on 'Awake'...