BELK: A Ballad of Reading in Gaol (full version of essay published in Scottish Review of Books)

A Ballad of Reading in Gaol

(Full version of Scottish Review of Books Essay.)

By Martin Belk

A young woman hangs back after my writing seminar at the new City of Glasgow College with a question: “What’s it like, ya’ know, in there?” For a second, I’m thrown, forgetting that in the preceding class I’d alluded several times to my prison writing workshops. Before I could respond, huge, heavy tears welled up and fell from her eyes, falling down to her denim jeans. She didn’t say anything more, she didn’t need to – she has a loved one on the ‘inside’. I didn’t quite know what to tell her: a ‘modern place of rehabilitation’, to reassure her, or, a ‘bona-fide prison’, to confirm and confront her worst fears? Neither is entirely true, there are problems in the narrative.

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ONE blogs — Polmont Young Offenders: VIEWS FROM THE PEN 2

'Family' by Jule_Berlin/Flickr

 Family Visits
by Alexander Morrissey

I am just back from visits. My son and partner were up today and it was good. I had been looking forward to it for two weeks.

We were talking about what changes both of us have made since becoming parents. My partner seems to have made loads of changes but when she asked me what I have changed, I couldn’t think of anything. Then I thought about it and realised that I have in fact: stopped taking drugs, started attending courses to manage my anger and I have really improved my attitude.

I said to my partner that although I have changed these things there is still a long way to go. I said that I realise there are always things that go the wrong way in life and things don’t happen as you would like. I believe that you have to be strong and face these situations head on, rather than jumping over them or just pushing them to the side. If you tackle the issues you can overcome them.

This is all we talked about through the visit. My son was smiling and having him on my lap brought a tear to my eye. I was so happy yet so sad at the same time as I knew I had to leave them.

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ONE blogs — Polmont Young Offenders: ViEWS FROM THE PEN

 And So We Begin

By Bash Wallace

 Today was a gainful day. I left my cell and walked the enclosed pathway to my creative writing class. This pathway, referred to as the route, is six feet wide however us, the prisoners, are restricted to two feet of this, making out walk more like a march. In single file and all sporting short back and sides we resemble soldiers and I suppose in a way, we are. Street Soldiers. read more —>