Portland Poetry Slam Success
The SLAM Poetry night at HMP Portland was held after a day of immersive and informative events centred around the celebration of Black History Month. Learners from across the prison were invited to perform poetry, spoken word, rap, lyrics or songs that they had created during their time at Portland. Our cookery class mentors made an amazing Afro-Caribbean themed meal for everyone who attended.
It takes a lot of bravery to perform in front of others, let alone in a prison setting, but every learner who did perform showed how much talent (often hidden) there is here. Some learners mentioned that the evening felt as if they ‘weren’t in prison for the evening’, or they felt ‘like a normal person again’ and ‘I’m proud that I got the guts to do that’. A special bit of feedback was from a learner who said he felt as if he was ‘in a light, happy place for a couple of hours and every time I thought about it for the next few days I smiled.’
An important part of prison is having a space to tell your story, to be heard and understood. Creative events like the SLAM night allow learners to show who they are, what talents they have and what their story is. Not only are we focusing on crucial informal learning that leads to desistance, we are implementing the lasting wellbeing that comes from being seen and heard, and having your creativity and humanness valued. The Library at HMP Portland is a fantastic space, and the hard work of our Library staff is a source of great pride.