…exploring the power and potential of creative writing
Writing to discover that’s the amazing thing…There is no wrong way to do it…it is your space to find the language where your everyday language fails to understand yourself a little bit more.
I have always believed that working in collaboration ignites unimagined opportunities for new ideas and developments, which could never possibly be known in the same way if we work alone. Collaboration offers witness – a witness to what the ‘I’ needs to speak, in order to be understood and acknowledged as our own voice is weaved in connection to other voices to become ‘we’. Herein lies a profound shift that offers our self to the world, no longer separated but part of a collective whole. As the lyrical German poet Rilke describes: “I live my life in widening circles to reach out to the world.”
In November 2020, Free Word invited The Forgiveness Project to collaborate with the poet, playwright and novelist Cecilia Knapp as part of their How to be Kind Season.
On meeting Cecilia, I felt an immediate kinship – to her curiosity, wonderment and passion to give voice to those under-represented in society through creative writing.
As programme manager of The Forgiveness Project’s RESTORE prison programme, I am crucially aware of the need to embed poetry, creative writing and visual arts into the fabric of our approaches. I have always known, as a creative artist myself, that in order to tell the stories of our lives, of our whole self, we must find other forms of expression not reliant only on the spoken word. A form that holds safety, non-judgement, care and kindness where the unbearable places of shame, guilt, harm, loss and pain can be placed. As a result, men and women in prison have felt safe to reveal themselves as poets, writers and artists, weaving different languages to express that which would otherwise never have been spoken. I believe, in the very act of expressing ourselves creatively, we can be our own witness, as a human being who has a right to exist in the world – a place to stand that speaks beyond the one story that we and others tell of ourselves.