Friday, 26 October 2012


I listened, captivated by the words of Alex Alexandrowicz, to a poem about journeying to the stars.  It was a beautiful, moving poem written by a Category A prisoner serving two life sentences in Parkhurst.  Here was the work of a gifted writer whose poetry proved that though he was physically confined his imagination could not be imprisoned. 

I caught this poem when I flicked on the radio on Wednesday (Radio 4 Midweek).  When Alex Alexandrowicz wrote a fan letter from jail to actress Fiona Fullerton in 1976 a correspondence began which continued for over 30 years.   The story is told in Fiona's book Dear Fiona: letters from a suspected Soviet spy.

I thought of another prison-poet, the late Greek poet Yannis Ritsos.  His books were burned by the Metaxas regime.  The Papdopoulos military dictatorship send him to island prison camps where he was forbidden to write.  This didn't stop him.  He hid his poems in empty tins and buried them in the prison compound.  It is humbling to remember someone who continued to write under conditions of such severe persecution.

On a lighter note, I was up in court on Thursday with fellow Flambard poet, Rebecca Goss.  We read together at the old Magistrates' Court in Chester as part of the Chester Performs literary festival.  It was the most unusual venue I have ever read in - all the court furniture is still there.  A big thank you to everyone who came and to Paul Lavin for his practical help.

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