London Open Mic Poetry Night has been doing its own poetry events in London for over three years. We are now thinking of working out in the community as well. We would like to start a poetry workshop, and later possibly an open mic, in a prison, where the writing of poetry could do wonders for inmates, in terms of self-therapy and rehabilitation.
Inmates have very little that is positive in their lives. Yet they have as much creative ability as the average person on the outside. Writing poetry is something they could do with the little they already have: literacy and a pen and paper. And the creative energy involved in working on a poem could temporarily free their minds from their harsh environment. Holding poetry workshops could be a way of getting inmates interested in poetry, and then of mentoring them and keeping them moving forward. Unlike other workshops, which are meant to allow inmates to let their feelings out in a controlled environment but for only a limited period of time, poetry workshops do just the opposite. They promote creative work between workshops, when the poems would be written. This could positively affect the entire emotional and mental lives of inmates. Our next step would be to convince the institution to allow a poetry open mic for the general prison population. At this event, the new inmate poets who read their stories in poetic form to the applause of their fellow inmates might get a very rare boost to their self esteem.
We have the beginnings of a committee now, consisting of three senior female London poets, one of whom is also a psychotherapist. But we would welcome other women who have skills that could be of help, for instance social work, or a knowledge of institutions, especially the prison system. Anyone else who would like to help is certainly welcome.
Contact London Open Mic organizer Stan Burfield at firstname.lastname@example.org