Inspiring creativity and encouraging personal and social change through the arts

The Prison Arts Foundation is as important as it is unique. Thanks to our pioneering work with people with convictions lives are being transformed and patterns of behaviour changed for good.

Our team of experienced professional artists working across the criminal justice system in Northern Ireland are offering people with convictions a life-line, helping to improve their creative and communications skills, which is key to personal and social development, building self-confidence and unlocking people’s potential.

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Writing (Poetry)

All Souls

for Brian Keenan

The swapping of the shirt was so symbolic;
as though your father’s soul was intertwined within its threads and given onto you for darker, dreadful times ahead.
The souls of a thousand other men through time:
the warrior,
the painter,
the wording,
and the rhyme of everything they ever said or done
ancestors, whose wisdom, strength and DNA were hoarded up and passed through eons in anticipation of some evil day.

The prone figure reaching out his hand for you to take…
make no mistake dear friend,
that was the soul of a forefather reaching through the mists of time
‘Don’t break.’
The presence of your Father felt,
the scribbled codes upon the page,
the Magnus Opus filled with cryptic rage,
“Poetry written by some other hand than yours?”
Twisted reflections on a twisted spoon,
a spider’s cocoon,
tribal dancing to the beat of an unknown tune,
the art of making music from the noise,
the voices on the streets were Belfast boys’,
not breaking the neck of the bird,
your anguish at the cries and songs of other men…
And Homer’s words…
‘To strive,
To seek
To find…
And NOT to yield…’
Don’t you see?
that it was your soul, my friend when your soul became your shield…

HMP Magilligan

Bronze award for poetry, Koestler Arts, 2020

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