Poetry and prisons

That’s what I like doing best – poetry and prisons. I’ve had some of each this week, but lots of other stuff as well.

On Monday I had the final final Artlift session this term, and jolly good fun it was too. I painted a picture! Not a very good picture, obviously, but not too bad. I did some prep, and worked with my little group of ladies who meet once a fortnight. I’ve got them doing something new and different, and they are taking to it really well, so far. And I managed to get up to Sunday’s emails.

On Tuesday I had a session in a prison, working on Shakespeare, but mostly poetry. It was terrific! They all contributed, even the ones who said that they didn’t really want to be there. I even had two fist bumps. Clearly I can’t initiate a fist bump – it would be like your dad dancing – but I was delighted to be offered, and responded appropriately. In the evening I saw Allied, which was ok but a little unconvincing in some of the detail. And predictable.

On Wednesday I did loads of Artlift stuff – mostly statistics, which I don’t mind too much – and got up to Tuesday with the emails. And then some Poetry on Loan stuff; and then I prepared a mailout list for the book of poems written with patients and carers at Hereford hospital. I want to email them all to tell them that the book is available, with their poems in, but I can’t. I have to wait until someone else has checked all the names to make sure that the people are still alive; it’s a different email if they are no longer with us. I don’t know how long I will have to wait for this, or to get paid for the books. Never mind.

I was back in the prison again on Thursday, after leaving home at the crack of dawn. It was even better this time. The group of men I was working with had each prepared a Shakespeare speech to read out to the others, but before we finished the officer came to take them away for lunch – but they wouldn’t leave until they had all read out their speeches. This is almost unprecedented – usually when they are free to go for a break they’re off like a shot. An excellent morning!

I did my end-of-month accounting, and the prison writeups, and in the evening went to a party to say thank you to the Ledbury Poetry Festival volunteers. Without these wonderful people, the Festival couldn’t happen. It was all very civilised.

Friday was prep, and Artlift stuff – lots of it – and finally, I caught up with the emails. Hooray! I did have a bit of time off over the weekend, but I spent a lot more time on the Artlift stats, which I finally finished today, in time for the Board meeting.

No more prisons this week, unfortunately, and not much poetry either; I’ll be stuck at my desk, starting the next Poetry on Loan funding bid, in my rather cell-like office. And I really ought to start thinking about Christmas…

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