English PEN’s Life Stories project has been sending writers, memoirs and the gift of a journal to young men in HMP YOI Isis to encourage writing and thinking about their lives, recording their time in prison and reflecting on the importance and the potential for change.
This six week course, led by performance poet Joelle Taylor, produced some great feedback from the men:
‘At first I didn’t get it, I didn’t even want to be here. But now I think it’s the best thing that’s happened here since arriving.’
‘I look forward to this. It’s the highlight of my week.’
‘See you next week miss. Ah shit, no I’m getting released.’
Joelle Taylor added:
‘One of the most empowering aspects of the course was watching each man be listened to, and wondering whether this was one of the first times that it had happened for them. They quickly learned not just from me, but from each other.
It was more than words on a page.
It was the possibility of life. The possibility of alternate futures suggested by the use of words.’
The Life Stories project is supported by Matrix Causes Fund.