Sunday, August 05, 2007

Inspired Incarceration

Oscar Wilde did it. So did Brendan Behan, Cervantes, Thomas Malory, John Bunyan and Voltaire.

And, of course, Jeffrey Archer.

(And in South-East Asia we could also add Pak Pram.)

In the Times Peter Wayne, newly released from prison salutes great writers who drew strength from their incarceration which they used to fuel their writing.

Wayne is himself has:
20-odd years’ worth of scintillating journals that I have hung on to come hell or high water in 30-something prisons ...
and now plans:
... to anatomise incarceration in a way that will enlighten and entertain future generations. It is my hope that, in future, readers will be able to read my work and say: “That was how it really was.”
I hope it works out for him and that he doesn't need to ... erm ... go back and collect more material!

Incidentally, I am very interested in initiatives like the Writers in Prison Network in the UK. Wonder what the possibility of setting something up like this here would be?


Quinn said...

I don't know if there is a national program in place in the US currently. Individual prisons sometimes offer literacy projects or writing programs (usually sponsored by a local university).

The PEN American Center gives an award for prison writing annually:

There is a prison library project:

Prisoners Literature Project (San Francisco-based)

There is also a book edited by Bruce Franklin called Prison Writing in 20th Century America (Penguin Press). For the review:

Quinn said...

Not having ever been in a Malaysian prison myself, I wonder if there is an annual report re. prison stats, facilities, etc. somewhere out there? Does Kajang Prison have a library or law reference resources for inmates? How about educational programs, like in the US for inmates to get their high school diplomas while in prison?