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13 November 2014

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You are in: Dorset > People > Your stories > Prison poetry on Portland

Looking down onto Portland (Photo Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

Looking down onto Portland

Prison poetry on Portland

Young offenders imprisoned on Portland have produced a new anthology of poetry as part of Black History Month.

A special project at Portland Young Offenders Institute has seen inmates from black and ethnic minority communities writing poetry and prose about their own experiences.

A new book of the work - We Black Men of England - has been published to coincide with Black History Month.

Project leader and the book's editor, west Dorset writer and poet Louisa Adjoa Parker, believes it to be first book to be produced by black and ethnic minority young offenders in the UK.

Louisa, who is based in Lyme Regis and has previously researched Dorset's black history, was inspired by her own experiences of growing up in the county.

Louisa Adjoa Parker

Louisa Adjoa Parker

This has led her to look at the experiences of other black people in Dorset.

She says that in light of all the recent gun and knife crime in London, she felt it was important to provide an insight into the experiences of the young men at Portland Young Offenders Institute, and the world they live in.

Louise also believes it helped to improve communication between white, Dorset prison staff and the black and ethnic minority communities there.

'Positive effects'

Governor of Portland Young Offenders Institute Steve Holland says the workshops have had positive effects - not just on those directly involved in the project, but on the whole institution.

He says: "I've seen a difference in these young men but also within the prison as a whole - we've seen prisoners take much more responsibility for their lives.

"This prison is changing quite dramatically for the better, in terms of less violence, and the poetry is one reason behind that."

Listen to Governor of Portland Young Offenders Institute Steve Holland talk to BBC Radio Solent's Steve Harris.

last updated: 21/10/2008 at 10:59
created: 21/10/2008

You are in: Dorset > People > Your stories > Prison poetry on Portland

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