Saturday, September 08, 2007

Prison Writer

So much has happened -

I've just been away for a week in Wales with the Writers In Prison Network. I'm going to be a writer in residence, for the next year at least, in a prison near Nottingham. I'm both scared and looking forward to it, which is apparently the right attitude to have. During the training, I got to make, along with a whole bunch of other writers, a video, write a radio script, put together a pamphlet of poems, learnt about storytelling and other things useful to the job. It was a very exhausting week and I'm still reeling from it. Clive and Pauline, the co-ordinators, did a terrific job with the whole project, and I met Pat Winslow again, one of the bubbliest, loveliest people I know and a terrific poet. She herself is at Long Lartin.

I know it's going to be a steep learning curve for me, especially considering the nature of the prison. It's a training prison for adult male sex-offenders who are all "addressing their offending behaviour", that is, all attending treatment courses to help address their crimes and prevent them re-offending. That's the theory at least. It's going to be a challenge form the get-go.

Before that, I did an interesting thing. I went, as a Quaker, on the Manchester Pride March on the August Bank Holiday. It was odd being straight among gay people, but also remarkably celebratory, especially when we passed the usual sad contingent of fundies with their banners quoting obscure verse of the Bible to justify their prejudice. As if the Bible were some kind of collection of magic formulae, not a book of stories, which, like all stories, are seeking to discover truths about the world.

It's good that some Christians (and their were about 30 Anglicans and Catholics alongside us, as well as some Unitarians) are not entirely negative about alternative ways of living. Sometimes I think that the Church is pointless, but not that day I didn't.

Anyway, there's some big changes happening in my life, and I'm looking forward to them.