Forming part of our ongoing efforts to prioritise arts and enrichment through our new reading agenda in prison environments, we have recently welcomed Mike Garry, the internationally renowned poet, to HMP Buckley Hall to provide a CPD session for colleagues and a poetry workshop for learners.
Creating opportunities for our colleagues to develop
Using an innovative hybrid delivery model for the session with the the long-time collaborator of New Order, Iggy Pop and Patti Smith, staff from across the country were able to attend either in person or online, maximising the impact and allowing for as much participation as possible.
Mike, who previously worked as a librarian and was brought up in a deprived area of Manchester, shared how this background lay the foundation for his passion for his career in poetry. He demonstrated to learners how reading and writing can be useful and enjoyable, regardless of education or circumstances in life.
After listening to his poetry, colleagues were challenged to create their own poems exclusively using newspaper headlines. Not only was this an exciting activity, but it is one that our colleagues are looking to embed in their own lessons with learners.
It was noted by the participants that this is a simple task that can be replicated with ease in a secure environment and will provide a creative outlet for our learners to express themselves. Projects like this go a long way in supporting the mental health and emotional development of our learners.
We’ve had some amazing feedback, with one colleague saying, “I thought the training was fantastic. The whole day was engaging, interactive, interesting, and useful. Mike was great, very personable, and 'real'! Mike has given me LOADS of techniques to use with the learners.”
Using poetry as a tool to engage learners
Described as being “passionate about bringing live poetry to places it wouldn’t normally reach and to people who wouldn’t normally listen to it”, Mike certainly did this during his learner workshop.
While at the establishment, Mike lead an interactive workshop with our learners. who listened to some of his poetry and had the opportunity to respond to it. This inspired an insightful debate on the poems, their subject matter, and the importance of reading and English education. They were also able to write their own poetry, experimenting with language to see ordinary concepts in new ways.
At the end of the session, learners were keen to continue the workshop and described it as “educational and thought-provoking” saying that the lesson had inspired them to work and “get better at thinking and listening”.