“The chute should have shot out immediately, but nothing.”
The creative writing tutor here at Wakefield went through a period of setting us a check list of things to write about a while back. Each story had to include all five things on the list and the list would change week on week. The only thing that was on the list each week was expert knowledge which actually isn’t true. You can see that in a few of my stories now. It’s in The Forcefield. It’s in Dumb Luck. And it’s in The Jump too.
With this story I really wanted it to be a simple stream of consciousness, told in real time. I wanted to see if that would draw the reader in and add a sense of emergency.
“This guy’s like the Angel of Death. He’s big time. The End.”
I wrote Dumb Luck as a sort of modern retelling of an old religious story I heard about a man who sees the Angel of Death in Jerusalem and fears he is going to die so he flees all the way to Damascus in an attempt to cheat death. The only problem is, death doesn’t just work by chance. Does he?
I very rarely plan to write poetry in a particular form. I usually just start and the form either finds itself or it all becomes a piece of free verse. That’s something I hope to change this year. I want to write in as many different forms as possible. To experiment. To see what I like.
Seasonal Revelations are a set of Haiku (or Haiku No Renga), based upon the biblical nature of the seasons and the year. I originally wrote them for a creative writing class at HMP Frankland and I must admit that I don’t like the form all that much, but they still hold meaning for me as each year blurs into the next and time leaves me behind.
It’s You is a poem I wrote years ago. I had just met The Woman with Eyes of Fire (see my story The Fire and the Sea for details) and was struggling to get my head around my feelings for her, especially given our situation. Then I read some poetry by Robert Burns and decided to start a poem from one of his lines and work into what I really wanted to say from there. I never gave this poem to her as such, but a couple of years after I wrote it she did happen to read it (along with most of my poems) when she got hold of my notebook. She didn’t have a clue it was about her until we got back in contact just last year.
This drawing started out as a simple sketch but it has actually been changed a number of times since then. The funny thing is that I don’t even feel like it was me who changed it. I knew it wasn’t complete (until it finally was) and I searched for what was missing, but I don’t really feel like I thought of it. I simply put it down on paper. The idea behind it already existed. It was always going to be what it eventually became. I just didn’t know it until I saw it there in front of me.
I’m fully aware that that probably sounds completely nuts to everyone but me, but there it is. Like most of my drawings it is full of symbolism and hidden meaning (beyond the obvious), I’ll leave you to judge and interpret for yourselves.
“Nothing mattered more to him than the woman’s happiness, and he would gladly embrace any pain or sorrow if he could save her from the same.”
The Fire and the Sea has actually been on this site since I first set up. It is not a new story. But what I never expected was for the person I wrote it about to find it and, on this very day last year, to write her own second part to it and attach that as a comment (yes, it is a true story – albeit one that is told through symbolism). I was over the moon that she had found me, and that she made contact in this way, and I soon wrote a third part as a comment myself.
No more was added, although much happened in the lives of the woman with eyes of fire and the man from the sea, and today seems like the perfect day to post part four as another comment, updating the story and sending my own song out upon the wind.
Whether or not this is the end of the story is not my decision. I can only hope that there is more yet to come.
I started my Travels of a Virtual Nomad some time ago to campaign against the impact that Ministry of Justice policies have had on prison arts and to raise money for The Koestler Trust. After 228 miles I have already reached Whitby and my travels continue but policy changes are already apparent.
Over the summer the MoJ reversed the decision to ban steel strung acoustic guitars, and recently they decided to remove the limit on the number of books allowed in a prisoner’s possession. But don’t be fooled. Electric guitars remain on the banned list despite many prisoners having invested months of wages in what is for many a very important coping strategy and, speaking for Wakefield at least, it is harder than ever to get other instruments such as keyboards. And the issues don’t stop there. Drama courses remain rare, creative writing is still often censored or even removed from prisoners’ possession, and it takes longer and longer to get hold of art and craft materials.
I have reached the northernmost point in the Yorkshire leg of my journey and I am now heading back south again, but I can only argue that the whole policy area needs reviewing if you all get behind me to sign my petition and sponsor my travels. Please do what us prisoners cannot do for ourselves.
Sponsor me if you can, at my Just Giving page
and sign my petition, at 38 degrees
I’ve written a fair bit about how other people have been affected by the prison service attitude towards the arts. Now I’ve been hit by it myself.
In my twelve years inside I’ve never entered the Koestler Awards. I write fiction, non-fiction, poetry, autobiography, and articles, and I draw and paint too. But I’ve never had the right pieces around at the right times to submit. This year I thought I’d make an effort to address that. I pulled together a lot of my work, in all different areas, and was in the process of preparing it to send off when the Koestler co-ordinator here at Wakefield voiced ‘concerns’ about one of my entries.