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Creativity Unlocked 2020

Published by holly, 2020-08-03 06:55:23

Description: This collection of poetry was written by the participants of Severn Art’s ‘Inspiring Futures through the Arts’ programme, as a result of a series of workshops run by Giovanni ‘Spoz’ Esposito and Holly Daffurn . The project was devised as a way of using art and therapeutic writing to empower people in the criminal justice system to turn their lives around. Severn Arts very much wish to thank the project funder, the West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner and the workshops host and partner, Warwickshire and West Mercia Community Rehabilitation Company.

Keywords: poetry,rehabilitation,therapeutic writing,probation,Worcestershire,arts in Worcester

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CREATIVITY UNL CKED2020 WRITINGS ON FORGIVENESS, SELF-WORTH, FREEDOM AND MORE…


Jail Birds – JC Harley We hear the clank of chains as keys unlock doors to release us birds, the prison flock. We’ve been caged all night, as we stretch our wings and fluff our feathers a loud voice rings. “Breakfast, ladies! Form a queue!” Even in here ‘it’s what us Brits do.’ Another call “freeflow” and the birds depart to other cages to do their part. Sort through rubbish, learn to count and write, help a broken bird take flight. Then the flock is called back together for feeding time, us birds of a feather back in our cages, locked up once more. We can hear our keepers walk up and down the empty floor. Then the birds are released to learn and work again, the keepers shout to the birds that remain “birds back to your cages, we lock you in to keep you safe.” The final feeding call at five, an hour to socialise and survive. Then the keys come out once more the clanging of each cage’s door. The flock locked up now for the night. Each bird can rest now out of sight. Pulling out feathers, shaking their heads, sometimes wishing they were dead. On and on until the day each bird leaves and flies away… FREEDOM.


CREATIVITY UNLOCKED Writings on forgiveness, self-worth, freedom and more… This project was devised as a way of using art and therapeutic writing to empower people in the criminal justice system to turn their lives around. Produced by The Word Association with


First published in the United Kingdom in 2020. © Creativity Unlocked 2020. Each poet has asserted their right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988 to retain copyright to their own work. All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher. First published in the United Kingdom in 2020 by Bite Poetry Press. www.bitepress.co.uk Cover illustration by Rosa McCarthy Design by Gerard Hughes Printed and bound in the UK by Biddles, Castle House East Winch Road, King’s Lynn, PE32 1SF


Severn Arts runs a series of workshops called ‘Inspiring Futures through the Arts’ and our Spoken Word/Creative writing groups produced this publication. We very much wish to thank our funder, the West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner and our workshops host and partner, Warwickshire and West Mercia Community Rehabilitation Company. We thank our workshop leaders, Holly Daffurn and Spoz, who enabled the groups to create this publication. Finally, our particular thanks go to the contributors – workshop participants who were willing to create and share the wonderful poetry and artwork you see here. CREATIVITY UNLOCKED 2020 7


CONTENTS 11 SAPPHIRE 12 Healing 14 Three Weeks 15 Something That I Once Lost... 17 JC HARLEY 18 Today You Are Unbroken 19 Forgiveness Letter To Someone 20 Forgiveness 21 Reflection 22 Self Portrait 23 Pandemic 24 The Four Seasons 31 LYNSKI SMILEY 32 Forgiveness 34 Self-Worth 36 Forgiveness Letter 38 Forgiving You 40 Forgive Them 41 Today You Are Unbroken 42 Stay Positive 44 Imagine Yourself In Five Years Time 45 MEL 46 Forgiveness 47 Today You Are Unbroken 49 MISCELLANEOUS PARTICIPANTS 49 The Commute by D.O. 50 Choices by D.O. 51 The Great Unidentified Metal Object by D.O.


54 Anger Poetry And Words by J.S. 55 Forgiveness by W.W. 58 Homeless by N.C. 61 You Call This What? by J.M. 62 Recipe For Forgiveness by S.J. 64 Letter To Ten Year Old Nick by N.C. 66 Daughter by S.J. 71 ESME RAE-HARPER 72 Lost 73 Feelings 74 Loss 76 Why Me? 77 The Abused Child 79 ROSA McCARTHY 80 Forgiveness 81 Blessed 82 Countdown To 80 84 Fish 87 Optimism 88 Heal 88 Disillusion 89 Ringing in My Ears 89 Freedom 89 Stone 90 Exposed 90 Believe 91 Unworthy 92 Glass Clouds 94 Smeared Glass 96 Friendship


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SAPPHIRE So, my work is a part of how I’m living at the moment. It gives me an escape when I’m not feeling myself. It helps me remind myself that things can get better, and hopefully it can help someone else too. X CREATIVITY UNLOCKED 2020 11


Healing I’ve been writing down what is in my head And I have been drawing what I see I have opened up and talked much more To make me as light as can be It’s hard to face the demons As it causes me despair But please give me the space I need To breathe so I can repair This has taken me courage And a strength from deep within For one day I will see the light And on that day I will win I know it will take time And a level of control To face the shadow and demons To make myself feel whole 12 CREATIVITY UNLOCKED 2020


It has never been this cold and dark It makes me feel so alone For it feels like I am drowning Into a world of the unknown I need to keep on fighting I want to win this war For the demon wants me to hurt But the scars are getting sore It’s hard to keep it quiet now The feelings are so unreal The shadow never sleeps But my brain needs to heal CREATIVITY UNLOCKED 2020 13


Three Weeks It’s like darkness A hand that takes away the flame Constricting and suffocating It used to come and go But now it sits in the corner It consumes the happiness It fills my head like a shadow Tall, dark and mysterious He awakes of a night And knocks away at the wall Brick by brick the barrier comes down But the strength to push him away… It keeps me alive Knowing that one day he won’t consume me Anymore 14 CREATIVITY UNLOCKED 2020


Something That I Once Lost… I lost a part of me back in April. Control. Something I was always terrified about. People don’t understand how hard it is to keep control for years. My brain hurt. My heart hurt. My body broken and bruised. I always thought it was me. That I was doing something wrong. To this day I don’t understand why. I saw red and lost control. But in this process, I lost so much more. My privacy, friends, freedom. I feel like I lost my worth. Even now I sit here still feeling lost. But now it’s in my own mind. Every turn I take there’s a wall. A wall of anxiety. I still don’t feel in control. But I know that each day I wake and get out of bed, put my shoes on, and leave that door, that I’m giving myself chance to control my life again. And to me that takes so much when you are lost, not knowing which way to go. CREATIVITY UNLOCKED 2020 15


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JC HARLEY I am nearly 60. A mum, daughter, aunty, great nan and nan. I love creative hobbies, ceramics, bookfolding, knitting and crochet. Now I love writing too, after trying to write for the first time in 44 years. CREATIVITY UNLOCKED 2020 17


Today You Are Unbroken Today you are unbroken, Those hurtful thoughts left unspoken. Stay strong, stay true, Be sure that happiness will seek you. You may be down and feeling low, But you will rise like a phoenix for the next show. Shining and glistening like a bright star, As that’s the strong person that you truly are. Your fate lies with safe within, You just have to believe it to win… Forever remain unbroken! 18 CREATIVITY UNLOCKED 2020


Forgiveness Letter To Someone It’s taken me a long time to have the strength to write this letter to you. I thought I knew what forgiveness was. I thought forgiveness was accepting excuses for how you hurt me, but it’s not is it? Forgiveness to me means a whole lot more, it is about me letting go of the memories of your behaviour towards me. It’s about me not allowing you to break my heart. I hope you understand this message I’m giving you. Because it’s about ME not YOU! You can’t hurt me anymore, because I’m finally FREE OF YOU! CREATIVITY UNLOCKED 2020 19


Forgiveness Forgiveness is healthy they say, You have to let go to live another day. Life is oh too short to carry grudges, Some let them go now and some ain’t budging. Some can forgive but not forget, I for one will never regret. After forgiving my mind is clear once more, It’s time to restart and open another door. After all life is like a book, I finished the last chapter, now turn the page and take a look. My future is down to me, Only time will tell you’ll have to wait and see. With hope the right path will be taken, And your forgiveness not forsaken. 20 CREATIVITY UNLOCKED 2020


Reflection I feel sad, I feel angry, I feel helpless hearing that another young life has been lost to mental health. How in this day and age there is such little help for those who are in these dark places? Why do they have to wait so long to talk to someone who would be in a position to try and help them? Medically and physically. Why do we feel stigmatised about asking for help? Lying, saying we haven’t thought of suicide because we are frightened of what might be said about us. Putting on a smile when we are crying inside. Afraid to let on that we can’t cope. Feeling lonely in a crowd. Not wanting to admit that we are weak with no self-worth or self-esteem. It’s hard to value yourself when you can’t see a light at the end of the tunnel. Some will get through this to the other side and slowly rebuild their self-worth. Others will lose that battle and sadly depart this world. It’s sad but true. There just isn’t enough help out there when it’s truly needed. Mental illness isn’t something that happens to order, it can happen at any time. So why isn’t help on hand? CREATIVITY UNLOCKED 2020 21


Self Portrait At this point she is sat in a sumptuous leather chair beside a roaring fire, looking comfortable, cosy and relaxed and so engrossed in her book. She looks lost in the story, oblivious to anything else around her. She looks up and for a fleeting second, I can see the sadness in her eyes. Then she paints her smile on, pretending all is well, but I know she is trying to hide her real emotions. She doesn’t want us to feel them or take them on, because she thinks she is the strong one. 22 CREATIVITY UNLOCKED 2020


Pandemic Ghandi once said... “The world has enough food for everyone’s needs, But not enough for everyone’s greed.” The corona virus aka Covid-19, Has caused society to act so obscene. No tins, no loo roll, not meat or soap, For the elderly and vulnerable there is little hope. The supermarket shelves are empty, But some of you out there have plenty. Protect them is the advice being given, But oh no the community is panic stricken. So please stop and think about those who are vulnerable, Give them your help and make their lives less miserable. We will get over this terrible disease, and once again we will be at peace. CREATIVITY UNLOCKED 2020 23


The Four Seasons Winter Short days and long nights, a harsh reality that nature has its work to do. Icy fingers spread across the landscapes leaving behind sheets of white frost on everything they touched, like a fluffy duvet spread out across a bed. The Winter winds whistle through the woods, a feeling of magic is in the air. Smoke billowing out of chimney tops as families snuggle up together around an open fire, watching the flames dance around the hearth. The delicious taste of hot chocolate and melted marshmallows tickle their taste buds making them feel warm, comfortable and serene. The feeling of happiness as they watch the first falling of snow, descending from heaven like soft white feathers dancing silently to the ground, covering everything with what resembles white cotton wool that twinkles in the moonlight. On long dark nights coldness creeps into their souls, they wish for the day to break bringing with it the sun and her golden tendrils spreading glowing warmth and 24 CREATIVITY UNLOCKED 2020


releasing the hold of coldness, and leaving a smidgen of warmth in the air, all be it for a short while before the winter night creeps back in. Lying in bed listening to the fierce sound of a tempestuous storm arriving and the shock at how harsh Winter can be, destroying homes and wildlife, flooding causing such devastation in the world. The overwhelming feeling of the anticipation of falling asleep and dreaming of the long-awaited arrival of Spring overtakes their gloom, bringing hope for the new beginnings that Spring promises to bring. Spring The earth and her inhabitants wake up from the long cold Winter sleep. Rebirth, new life, new hope, new joy and new beauty. Leaves growing on the trees and hedgerows in different shade of greens. Daffodils pushing up through the soil to reveal their bright yellow flowers, that emulate the golden glow of the sun peeking through the white fluffy clouds floating in the pastel blue skies. CREATIVITY UNLOCKED 2020 25


Babbling brooks and streams meandering down the hillsides glistening in the rays of sunshine, providing moisture to help life grow. The chirping of newborn chicks waiting in anticipation with their beaks gaping open for any morsel that is scavenged by their parents to feed them. In sumptuous lush green fields, lambs are born taking their first tentative steps into life. A soft gentle breeze whispers through the trees, promising that new life is evolving and ready to spring into Summer. Summer The fluttering soft breeze blows in Summer. Bees are flitting from flower to flower gathering in the pollen to help new life evolve. The sensual flow of the corn in the summer breeze dancing in unison under the clear blue skies. People basking in the warmth of the summer sun, feeling at peace and complete with life. Feeling the grass under your feet as you stroll bare footed in the lush green meadows. 26 CREATIVITY UNLOCKED 2020


Vibrant shades of colour dancing into vision, the emerald green grass, golden sunshine and a magnitude of rainbow colours from the flowers and blossoms. Fruits growing on trees and bushes fodder for the upcoming harvest and sustenance for all, helping sustain life. The busy beaches full of joyous holiday makers having fun and relaxing by the shore. The ebb and flow of the salty waves rushing in and back out, taking the sand with it, washing up treasures from the deep blue seas. The birds hover above the waves waiting for the opportunity of an unsuspecting fish to feed their appetite. Summer glides into Autumn. Autumn Warm summer nights give way to the soft chill of Autumn. Autumn fruits are abundant and glorious in colours pleasing to the eye, ready to be harvested, their sweet aroma reaching across the gentle breeze. Haystacks stand proud in fields, like soldiers standing to attention. CREATIVITY UNLOCKED 2020 27


The extraordinary changing of colours, from green leaves to russet, golden amber and browns before they float down to earth creating a crisp carpet under foot. Shiny brown conkers lying on the ground waiting for discovery by excited children who are ready to do battle with them in their Autumn games. In the woods, early morning dew revealing the delicate evidence of mischievous fairies who have spent the night playing around the toadstools. The sight of the scurrying squirrels as they forage for their supply of nuts for the Winter months ahead. The sound of the migrating flocks of birds as they soar above, their wings a flurry of motion climbing high through the clouds out of sight on their way to warm shores. Bright orange pumpkins, like ghosts staring through windows at Halloween. Some look scary, some are really grotesque and others somehow resemble familiar things. After the harvest pagans gather bare footed around fires celebrating Samhain the feast of the dead, giving thanks to Mother Earth for her gifts and riches as well as paying homage to their ancestors. The feeling of emptiness as the trees lose their foliage letting us know that Winter is imminent. 28 CREATIVITY UNLOCKED 2020


Seasons Exercise If the four seasons were a band, what songs would they play? What instrument would each season play and what would they be called? My band: Weather The Seasons Season: Winter Name: Storm Instrument: Drums Song: Sound of Silence - Disturbed Season: Spring Name: Hope Instrument: Violin Song: April Come She Will - Simon & Garfunkel Season: Summer Name: Joy Instrument: Guitar Song: Here Comes The Sun - The Beatles Season: Autumn Name: Dusky Instrument: Flute Song: Forever Autumn - Jeff Wayne CREATIVITY UNLOCKED 2020 29


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LYNSKI SMILEY So, I grew up in the country, a little quiet village. I have worked hard all my life and I try to be a positive, helpful person. I like to make people smile and help if I can. I love being creative and the fresh air in the countryside. I hope you enjoy my work and it makes you smile. Stay positive and keep smiling, Lynski Smiley CREATIVITY UNLOCKED 2020 31


Forgiveness Forgiveness for me means peace of mind. It’s not about the thing or person. It’s about me. It’s about loving oneself. It’s moving forward not back. It’s remembering that life throws us curve balls And how we deal with them. Do you dodge the curve? Or do you ride it? If we don’t forgive others, then we are really not moving forward. We are punishing ourselves. Forgiveness does not mean that I forget But more that I accept. That I still try. And that I believe in hope and kindness. 32 CREATIVITY UNLOCKED 2020


Forgiving takes strength, courage and determination. Forgiveness is love, understanding and most importantly I think forgiveness means peace and less anger. Whether it’s forgiving ourselves or others Be kind. Life is hard enough Without punishing ourselves or others. Everyone is travelling a journey But we all end up at the same destination Eventually. CREATIVITY UNLOCKED 2020 33


Self-Worth BE KIND TO YOURSELF! So how much do you value yourself? I’m unique I’m priceless I’m one of a kind I’m kind I’m helpful I’m too soft I can be too trusting I’m hard working I’m creative I’m confident when I need to be I’m a good listener I’m patient I’m outspoken… sometimes I’m emotional 34 CREATIVITY UNLOCKED 2020


I’m triumph I’m despair I’m pride I’m shame I’m self-understanding It’s how you regard yourself Self-love Self-acceptance Self-worth CREATIVITY UNLOCKED 2020 35


Forgiveness Letter To The Police, I am writing to let you know that I forgive you for stealing my identity and not doing your job properly. I forgive the fact that you couldn’t tell that I was telling the truth and also that you couldn’t tell when others were lying to you. I forgive you for blocking and deleting me when I tried to sort things out and book an appointment. I forgive you for giving me that much stress that I got cancer. I also forgive you for the neglect I received whilst in your care, and not giving me any fluids or any food. Due to my health and diet, you labelled me “difficult.” I forgive the fact that even though my ex neighbour admitted I never threatened her that you still turned down my appeal with no apology. I forgive everything because - even though this now means my 20 year career no longer means anything and I now need a third career – it has taught me that there isn’t any justice in the world and that people are cruel. It’s helped me to see that being a good person and doing good things makes no difference, that people get jealous and that working hard means nothing. I forgive this and more because I’ve loved probation so much. The people, the differences, pottery 36 CREATIVITY UNLOCKED 2020


and new challenges. So I forgive you, because now I want different things. I now want to travel and enjoy life rather than spending my time helping others. I forgive the fact that hidden disabilities are not recognised or the fact your officers aren’t trained to know how to help these people and I hope more training is given. It takes strength to forgive, so I hope you forgive me for pointing all of this out. Thanks, Lynski Smiley CREATIVITY UNLOCKED 2020 37


Forgiving You I thought about forgiving you While I had my morning poo I thought about forgiving you But I’ve got a lot to do I thought about forgiving you For causing me such strife I thought about forgiving you While getting on with my life I thought about forgiving you With a smile upon my face 38 CREATIVITY UNLOCKED 2020


I thought about forgiving you Now I’m in a better place I realised while forgiving you That I already do I realised I’d already forgiven you And that made me smile too CREATIVITY UNLOCKED 2020 39


Forgive Them Forgive them they say But it doesn’t “go away” Forgive them they say It will make your life feel “better” Forgive them they say And then I got another letter Forgive them they say It will give you “peace of mind” Forgive them they say Because life is a “ride” Forgive them they say Your life is a “journey” So, go change the end Or start the next story 40 CREATIVITY UNLOCKED 2020


Today You Are Unbroken Today you are unbroken and you live to fight again, so take the opportunity to have another go. Because tomorrow isn’t promised to be better than today, but you woke up this morning to try a different way. So put your best foot forward and give your biggest smile. Be grateful you’re unbroken and can try again tomorrow, because some people only know sorrow. Remember everyone’s fighting a battle and travelling a journey. Be grateful you’re unbroken and start another chapter to your story. CREATIVITY UNLOCKED 2020 41


Stay Positive I was asked to write about forgiveness and forgiving people, so I thought I’d tell you about what I think about it and how I deal with it, because we need to forgive for our own self-worth and benefit. If you look at it the right way it can help your mental health and wellbeing, and help you move forward in life. The way I look at it is whether it’s about something you did to someone or what they did to you, you need to remember that it’s in the past and the past can’t be changed, so anything from there onwards needs to be about moving forward not backwards. So, the way I deal with things is I have a theory that revenge is for the weak and happiness is the best cure or revenge as your enemies hate seeing you happy and succeeding. Remember, life’s about moving forward. So in my mind I have an imaginary bookshelf that when a chapter or thing occurred in life then when its finished I put it in a box, label, put the lid on the box and store it 42 CREATIVITY UNLOCKED 2020


on the shelf, similar to how a phone or computer sorts its files into order to stay running smoother. This won’t work for everyone and sometimes the lid gets opened and revisited but you can always put the lid back on. I believe everyone has a talent or skill you just need to find it and do what makes you happy. One of my favourite quotes is “If you don’t have a go, then you will never know!” and the second is “If you judge a fish by climbing a tree it will always fail, but put it in a swimming race it might win!” Life is too short to be anything but happy. So, listen to music, colour something, make something, get a hobby, try anything you enjoy to stay happy, keep smiling and stay positive. Love and bubbles, Lynski Smiley CREATIVITY UNLOCKED 2020 43


Imagine Yourself In Five Years Time, Where Do You Want To Be? It’s a lovely sunny day and my toes are dangling in the water of the stream as it meanders on by, the trees rustle lightly with the breeze but my husband is busy trying to catch tea fishing and the kids are looking for adventures in the meadow. I should get the camper ready for bedtime and sort some food in case the fish don’t bite. As night falls and the stars light the sky, we light a fire and toast marshmallows while chatting about where our next adventure will be. Our holiday will be over soon and then back to reality, but reality is my own part time pottery business called Smiley’s Ceramics which is doing ok and we top up my time with van conversions and furniture revamping and teaching the kids skills for life like cooking, budgeting, saving and enjoying life. The dog’s always under my feet tripping me up but I wouldn’t be without one, they listen and sometimes surprise you. We have a cosy little home and look forward to many happy years. This is where I would like to be in five years! Ps. I’m still trying to learn the guitar… 44 CREATIVITY UNLOCKED 2020


MEL I was brought up in Birmingham but when I had my children we moved to the countryside. I love being around people, I also love animals and eventually would like a job working with animals. CREATIVITY UNLOCKED 2020 45


Forgiveness Why should I forgive you? You hurt me so much With your poisonous tongue And your hurtful look You watched me like a hawk You controlled me all the time Why should I forgive you? When you think you’ve done nowt wrong And you blame it all on me Saying I was in the wrong Now that I’ve moved on And am enjoying life I still forgive you Cause you’re not in my life 46 CREATIVITY UNLOCKED 2020


Today You Are Unbroken Today you are unbroken But tomorrow you may not be It’s not my fault so stop saying that it is I didn’t choose to be this way Why would I? People don’t care either way All you do is blame me What do you see when you look at me? Fragile brown eyes and a pale face Delicate arms and a weak body Powerless In need of assistance I’m not a china doll I am me I’m simply born this way I don’t care what you say I don’t care what you see I don’t need to be fixed I’m not a broken toy In order to be left alone, what must I do? CREATIVITY UNLOCKED 2020 47


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The Commute by D.O The morning bus was late and you waited in the rain You got to work to find your boss was in a mood again As you arrived at work out of breath and all sweaty Wave your hand and greet the receptionist Betty At lunch you managed to find a bench but your shirt got stained After work you walked to the bus stop and again it rained You fought your way through crowds to find a seat Only to have someone’s suitcase run over your feet You press the bell and push your way to the front Once you get off light your cigarette and burn your thumb You head home dodging puddles trying to toke a wet fag Finally, you reach your house and put your key in the latch Stepping over bills on the welcome mat on the floor You think back on your day and wonder what was it for CREATIVITY UNLOCKED 2020 49


Choices: The Opportunities We Had As Children by D.O How can our kids ever think that they are child soldiers? They’re not out in the killing fields or down mines breaking boulders Yet everyday pressures weigh heavier on their shoulders Growing up too fast the youngens becoming olders The kid who a few years ago was in the playground trading cards Is now driving round the estate selling drugs from stolen cars His weary face has aged now showing lines and scars His dead eyes are as lifeless as the surface of Mars But his very best mate who had gone to the same schools Had realised pretty early on the estate game was for fools Though it meant money being cool and power if you had tools It also meant more than detention if you were caught breaking the rules These two lads grew up together on the same estate Both wanted so desperately to find a means of escape The only difference was in the chances they would take One played his position the other studied hard and worked late The one is in his office now getting coffee from the machine The other’s lads in another new prison following the old routine They had the same upbringing and even similar dreams The difference is the choices they made and what they have achieved 50 CREATIVITY UNLOCKED 2020


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