Freedom to Write

It’s difficult, I know, to imagine what it is like to try to write/publish/read poetry or any creative writing in prison. In B Cat prisons – the whole last year of my sentence as well as the first five weeks – there was no access to computer facilities for this sort of activity, and, of course, no access to the internet as is the case in every UK prison. Amazingly, writing poetry got me banned from the library at HMP Highpoint – a Cat C prison – for a short while, which meant no access to computers, and, even before, every sheet of paper I printed was monitored. That led me to write a piece of doggerel called “Printing in Prison” which went down like a lead balloon! Please let me know if you like this poem and please subscribe if you would like to see prison conditions improved – and, pleases, feel free to circulate my work.
Those of you that are writers – professional or amateur – will know how ‘cathartic’ the act of writing is. It is difficult to imagine an inmate that is addicted to writing leaving prison and turning back to crime though, of course, that does depend upon the conditions of his release. Left on the streets with just £46 in his pocket, his perception might be that crime is his only means of survival. Don’t be fooled – that is what the system does. i am fortunate in that I have a wife, family and pensions to support me. Just try to imagine what it is like for someone who has lost everything.

Freedom to Write

Liberation; home at last

The computer, the telephone, the internet

Absent were these tools in recent past

 My mind must speedily be reset

Obliged to sleep at this house each night

But so satisfied with conditions where I can write

Be not mistaken

This fundamental liberty should never be taken


A bracelet on my ankle

Linked to a black box by the bed

Difficulty of exercise may rankle

As does the Orwellian vision in my head

But no trouble using the printer

No pathetic concern about exercise in winter

At least now I have a freeman’s choice

And, through my writing, a small public voice


Thus may I exercise my right to think

And to express to others my inner thought

Let me pay for electricity, paper and ink

This is the freedom for which heroes have fought

To be able to write of any instance

Any place, any time, over any distance

Some, inside, tried to suppress the word

They are the fools that find freedom absurd


Let their punishment be their ignorance

And their frustration their stupidity

This fruit is freedom’s fragrance

Let them wallow in their own cupidity

When I write I prove that I exist

I need not use force or otherwise insist

Others may with me not agree

By that expression they confirm they are free