Residency: PEN sends writer and journalist Bidisha into HMP Downview

English PEN’s work in prison continues to flourish and inspire as we look  for new ways to encourage the prison community to engage with reading and writing. HMP Downview expressed an interest in a return visit from writer and journalist Bidisha, so we set up a mini-residency:

My three days at Downview, following two prior visits of one day each, were absorbing, inspiring and thought-provoking .We worked on everything from drama and poetry to letter-writing and diaries and even had a hack through the Prologue of Romeo and Juliet. In one piece a student said, “I am determined to come out of prison with more than I went in.” This summed up just how rewarding the experience was from my own position as a teacher. It was a creatively inspiring and deeply life-affirming 3 days and I emerged, as always after prison work, amazed at the women’s talent, intelligence and determination.   – Bidisha

Several participants have said how much they valued and were inspired by the experience. I really hope that you will be able to visit again very soon – your sessions provide so much more than the obvious.  – Librarian, HMP Downview



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