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seen and heard
Russell Webster

Russell Webster

Criminal Justice & substance misuse expert and author of this blog.

Seen & Heard: The voices of those affected by prison

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100 poems by parents and children affected by imprisonment. Edited by Lucy Baldwin and Ben Raikes.

Last week (16 May 2019), I went to the launch of a new book: Seen & Heard. Edited by Lucy Baldwin & Ben Raikes, the book simply contains 100 poems (and drawings) by parents and children affected by imprisonment.

As always, the direct experience of being in prison, or having a parent in prison, is so much more raw and shocking than any recitation of the statistics.

The purpose of the book is for people to hear how our prison system affects people unmitigated or shaped by any professional analysis.

You won’t be surprised to know that going to the launch was a profoundly moving event.

I’ve reproduced a couple of the poems here and would urge you to buy the book yourself,  all the proceeds go to charities and organisations supporting children of prisoners.

The artwork reproduced above from the cover of the book was drawn by Matila Brookes-Jones when she was ten years old.

The first poem was written by Danielle, a woman in prison, who handed it to Lucy Baldwin, asking her to share it to “someone in government who makes the decisions that means we get sent here, make them see the harm it causes.” It was this poem which provided the impetus for the book.

 

Drifting Away

I was taken without warning, no time to prepare me, to prepare you

Wrenched screaming from court, you not knowing, blissfully unaware

You’re staying with friends, taken in, in pity, the outsider

We connect after days of mutual torture, fast words, anger, recrimination, loss

Pain

You hate me, I love you, a few short months, I’m sorry, driven by desperation

Every day, I heard your pain, you were adrift, untethered, a boat with no anchor

Drifting further away

The day came and went, no call, no you, where were you, the late-night knock on my door?

You are “missing”, they didn’t want to worry me, they found you

In the woods, you left a note, it was too much, you are sorry, you felt lost

You drifted away

I’m still here, now I’m lost, I’m drifting too, I never want to leave

I don’t want to be in the world outside, not without you

But I will. I owe you… To live my life and yours – and to live it well

No more drifting, anchors, a mooring, a safe crossing

In your honour.

Dad by Tom, aged 7

This next poem is by Sophie, aged 13.

It’s complicated

My dad has failed and so has been jailed
We are left behind
He was here one minute and gone the next
And nobody understands
It’s like he has died but we have to hide
From what he has done

It’s hard to describe how I still love my dad
Even though he did something bad
Other people don’t get it
And expect me to forget him
But love doesn’t work like that
There is no on/off switch.

 

Click here to buy the book.

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One Response

  1. this is sad and heart breaking 😓. i can understand how hard it is for kids from experience when my partner went to prison and the turmoil my kids went through and the emotions are all over the place. and no one understands

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