Exciting News & PoetsIN
Long time no post. I’ve been absolutely slammed but while I have a minute or two, I thought I’d check in and let you know what I’ve been up to and let you all know about some exciting opportunities.
Some of you will remember the Letters from Prison Portal here, where Paul and I would visit prison, teach writing workshops, and post their pieces here. This is where PoetsIN was born. Paul and I realised that writing was a form of therapy and the prisoners were reporting astounding results.
After parting ways with Prose, we tailored our groups further with an emphasis on rehabilitation, mental illness, and suicide prevention. We began to measure the outcomes of each session, and over a set period of time had evidence that what we do worked with 99% of the service users. To put this into perspective, CBT in the UK via the NHS works in 48% of the cases they work with. If CBT doesn’t work, the service user is given no other therapy. Talking therapy such as counselling is no longer provided on the NHS because that was only successful 29% of the time, which is way below the threshold of success the NHS will work with.
With our 99% success rate we went to the UK Charity Commission. Wrote our governing document, recruited 5 trustees, filled in a ridiculously long application form to register as a charity, and submitted it. Then we waited.
Whilst we sat thinking of all the things we could’ve included in our application but didn’t, and worrying about all the things we may have done wrong, we carried on with our groups. Expanding them and trialling new techniques and measures of capturing data to ensure maximum impact. We got such good feedback from the prison directors that we were offered a grant from a trust for $50k - before we were even a charity - which is unheard of. Visit www.poetsin.com/testimonials to see what people have been saying about what we do.
Four months passed and we finally received our answer. We’d done it! We were a charity.
Since then we have won three awards. We were named Mental Health Heroes 2017 alongside Talia Bennington, Mental health workshop provider of the year 2018, and Nonprofit of the Year 2018. We have also employed some faces you may recognise. The lovely Karen, who used to design Prose images, the badass Lish, and we’ve just hired a wonderful fundraiser, Pippa. MilesNowhere and Amanda Cary have also joined the family and have been vital to PoetsIN, and my own personal sanity.
We are now a week away from launching online writing therapy groups that people can access from wherever they’re located, along with in-community groups external to prisons across certain parts of the UK to begin with.
We also have a growing Facebook Group (www.facebook.com/groups/poetsin) that is full of old faces from here and new faces from beyond, along with a website that has mental health and writing blogs galore.
We’ve opened our own publishing company, PoetsIN Publishing, that offers the best royalties EVER and any royalties taken by PoetsIN Publishing are all ploughed back into the charity to reach more people who need our help. The best thing about the publishing company is that we want to publish poetry. Many traditional publishers don’t. We do. We are publishing print and eBooks, and have already accepted submissions that will be released this year.
We have a current challenge running for an anthology. Our first anthology open submission call was a huge success and will be published within the next month - we’re just putting the final touches to it. The current submission call is on the topic of addiction, and you are all more than welcome to submit! The more the merrier. Visit this link to submit https://buff.ly/2EdHxwe
Those of you in the UK should come down to our huge all day fundraising event in Camden, London 28th July. It is being held at the iconic Nambucca venue that has housed Oasis, Blur, and many more. We have a full day of amazing lineups from spoken word poets, comedians, and acoustic and indie music. All acts are donating their talents and time to us for free along with many companies who have donated prizes that we will raffle and auction off at the event. We also have a Skydive coming up in September, more details about that can be found on our social networks.
There have been people that doubted Paul and I - along with our mission - but our determination, skills, and experience have served us well, built our confidence, and given a much-needed lifeline to those that truly needed keeping safe.
Setting up a charity is far harder than setting up a business, and if we can do that, you guys can do anything. One word, one poem, one story at a time.
Paul and I both hope you’ll join us elsewhere on the interwebs but in the meantime, write on!
#PoetsIN #PoetsINPrison #Charity #NPO #Publishing #WritingContests #GetPublished #Poetry #InsideOut
I was approaching my sophomore year when I finally internalized that I was a lesbian. My friends made this transition from a lost, questioning girl to a gender-unconcerned woman lover infinitely easier when they came out along with me. Although they do not know it, I am indebted to my friends for encouraging me to be confident in my identity. It also helps that my sexual orientation, lesbian, is recognizable whereas my friends, who are pansexual or nonbinary, have to lay the foundation of understanding with an unfamiliar vernacular. I truly wish I could help my friends overcome the homonormativity, or the idea that all those who are not heterosexual are homosexual, they constantly encounter.
Conclusions Drawn From the Corner Seat
Two sweat-dried ladies
Walk into the bar
Freckled by the sun and
By the sand and by history
They announce: It's a road trip
And someone buys them a round
They are returning from the beach
Back to reality and
To monotony, waiting
Their baggage is stuffed
With disappointment and
Pink souvenir glasses
They toss their hair --
Over-processed and dry
And frayed in concert
With the over-processed laughs
Their trip didn't bear
The fruit they had craved
Two 40-something lookers
Revealing a grandmother's secret:
Lightened by lemon juice
And, desperately, they flirt
Erupting with weeds, the seeds scattered helplessly
I heard Time whisper
As it began to fade
As it balanced intently
Above an oak tree and
Through the melancholy lens
Of my childlike eyes
I watched the trigger
Sparking a chain reaction
As it walked tightrope on
A crooked branch
High and forgotten
And preparing to dive
As it tripped on the bark
Scabbed with a hiccup
Before nosediving to Earth
With flaked ash in follow
And eyes-closed it plundered
Into the mouth
Split wide and hungry
As evolution swallowed
The splash we created
5 Fun Facts Challenge
1. In Australia, there is a small mouse-like creature called an Antechinus. During its mating season, it will have so much sex that it will disintegrate. These violent and frenetic encounters can last up to 14 hours at a time. This is the one chance he has to pass his genes on. In the process, he will exhaust himself so thoroughly that his body will start to fall apart. His fur falls off, he bleeds internally, his immune system weakens and he will become riddled with gangrene.
2. If you took out all the empty space in our atoms, you can fit the entire human race in the volume of a sugar cube.
3. It’s estimated that the combined weight of ants on earth is greater than the combined weight of people on earth. There's an estimated 1.6 million ants per human.
4. A Banana is classed as a berry.
5. Andromeda and The Milky Way will eventually merge into one galaxy. Because of the distances between the stars, few if any of the stars in either galaxy will actually collide, so it's unlikely to be a catastrophe.
Return to me
It is a mystery
I am the lunatic
My feet point in the direction
My heart refuses to follow
It is hidden
Just beyond my reach
Or at very least
It is a hole
A wound sustained
From which I have no clear recollection
It could heal
If I could quit prodding it
Quit squeezing the edges
Dipping my fingers in the pus
Like a milky spring
From where my words originate
From where my art takes shape
The nucleus of my pain
Real and conceived
The real reason I can never love
Or be loved
I cannot let heal
I refuse to let dry
I cannot ignore
I will never fill
That forever return
How I became the Most Intelligent Person on Earth
19 August 2035
My name is Rose Frank. I am twenty-seven, but what does age matter, after I invented the Immortality Pill? Yes, I was the one who invented the Immortality Pill, not that odious narcissistic rodent Watson Crick. So what if he had a perfect IQ score of 162 on the Mensa test? I still won in the end.
20 July 2030
"Frank! I told you to do the paperwork last week. When did you schedule my meeting with Dr. Gnikwah?" Crick shouts from his office down the hallway.
I sigh, pulling my gaze from the poster of the real James Watson and Francis Crick, the scientists who discovered DNA, hanging on my wall. I guess I got half of my wish, working for someone whose name is close enough to my idols. But you'd expect that I get proper work, what with an undergraduate education in Cambridge and two PhDs from Harvard and MIT. Too bad it isn't good for Dr. I'm-so-smart Crick. Crick only ever associates with people around his intelligence level. I'm out of his league. So I get the dirtiest, most boring work - the paperwork, ordering the chemicals - you name it, I do it. I don't have a labcoat with my name. Heck, I can't even access the lab unless Crick or one of his cronies allows me in to wash the test tubes and apparatus.
"FRANK! DID YOU OR DID YOU NOT SCHEDULE MY MEETING WITH DR. GNIKWAH?"
"Yes, sir, your meeting is at 3 in the afternoon today. Dr. Gnikwah is in the Marina Trench today. He wants everyone in your lab to take the Special Trench Elevator down to find him." I cross my fingers and pray silently that Crick doesn't ask any questions. If all goes well I'll be in the lab in no time.
Crick absorbs this information without question. Dr. Gnikwah has always been quite eccentric. He has labs all over the world, including the Marina Trench, but because I never scheduled a meeting with him I'm not sure if he would be there at 3 p.m..
"Frank!" I jump, scattering my plans for later all over my desk. Crick pops his head into the storage room, otherwise known as my office. He throws a bag of clothing at my feet and turns to walk away. I heave a silent sigh of relief, gathering up my papers and tucking them into an inconspicuous drawer.
"Make sure that's ironed by noon." This would be the last time.
By 11.30 a.m. Crick and co. are ready to leave. I hand them their freshly ironed blazers and walk into my office with a spring in my step.
At noon they board his private jet to the Pacific Ocean. I pick up a silicon mold of Crick's thumbprint and stride towards his lab. It's time.
The boiler at the side of the lab hums merrily as I distil the yellow liquid into a round-bottomed flask. Detaching the flask from the distillation column, I take a deep breath. The heavenly aroma of the Essence of Immortality wafts into my nose. I grin. It's working.
The next step is to crystallise the Essence of Immortality. This takes another hour. I glance at the clock. It's 2 p.m. now, so I take a short lunch and restroom break.
At 3 p.m. I hurry into the lab and look at the golden yellow crystals which I left to dry on the bench. Now Crick would have realised my deceit; now he would be rushing back. I fumble for the melting point determination instrument and test the purity of the crystals. Perfect. I smile as I grind some of the crystals into fine powder and pack them into a capsule. I'm sure I won't have to work in that musty storage room anymore.
When 4 p.m. rolls around I'm clearing up the work space, capping the bottles of Longevity Potion and Telomerase Activator and placing them into the cupboard. In a Ziploc bag by the side are large golden Immortality Pills. My invention.
5 p.m.. I pace anxiously around the lab. Suddenly the lab door bangs open and Crick's standing in the doorway. "Frank!" He booms, his face contorted in fury and disbelief.
I walk towards him, both hands up in an attempt to calm him down. "Crick, I can explain," I say placatingly, "I got you out of the lab so that I could prove my worth. I have a wonderful idea. Here's the Immortality Pills I made in your absence. We still need to conduct some clinical trials --"
"Immortality pills?" I nod.
"My colleagues and I will take it from here. Now, out!" I'm shoved roughly towards the door.
"But, sir --"
"What do you know? You haven't won any Nobel Prize -- you're not like us," someone else in the corner sneers.
I return angrily, "Yes, because I've never been given the chance to actually do something," but I'm speaking to the door.
20 January 2035
Everyone's celebrating today. Watson Crick and his colleagues have just won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the Immortality Pill that I created. I still try to smile anyway, because my idea was at least recognised by the international scientific community, even if it wasn't labelled as mine. But, you know what, this is all for humanity, right? Who came out with the idea doesn't really matter; how the idea is made use of does. At least I try to tell myself that.
Crick asks me to take a picture of the victorious scientists, who are high-fiving each other for their ingenuity and intelligence.
"Hey, Frank, why are you still here?" Someone shouts.
"Yeah, that's right, why are you still here? Five years with us, and not one achievement under your belt! We only accept the very best here!" Another scientist yells at me from across the room.
Suddenly the air is filled with shouts and flying peanuts. I exit the room silently, my hands bunched into fists by my side. I'm still smiling but the monster in me has its head reared, its fangs poised to kill.
30 March 2035
I gaze admiringly at the Species Gun I've created, turning the sleek pistol over in my hand. I've been staying up till the wee hours of the morning day after day for the past two months just for this. Obviously, I couldn't go into the lab while Crick and co. were still there. So I had to sneak in when I was sure that everyone else had gone to sleep to work on my newest invention. Which is now ready to test on its first victim.
I aim the gun at a black lab mouse in a cage by the corner and flip the switch to "Hamster".
"Frank!" Someone shouts from behind me. I spin around so that the barrel of the pistol is facing him.
It's Crick, staring at me with narrowed eyes. "What are you doing here?"
I ignore his question. "I didn't want to do this so fast, Crick, but I guess you'll just have to be my first victim."
"What are you--"
I pull the trigger and a yellow ray shoots Crick in the chest. The light wraps around him so that he's practically glowing. Crick's terrified now, his mouth open in a silent plea for help. I smile. "Goodbye, Crick. I hope you enjoy your new life as a less intelligent form."
And then the light vanishes and the lab is dark again. A squeak emerges from the floor. It's worked. "Hello," I say, scooping up Crick and placing him in a new cage.
19 August 2035
Over the past few months I've hunted down every single brilliant mind out there whose IQ is higher than mine. I still do. I've invented other tracking machines along the way so that every time a new smart baby is born, I'm always there to add a new animal to my collection. Sometimes it's cats, other times dogs. Or tortoises. Or mice. But I mostly prefer hamsters.
No one knows about my inventions -- to others out there I'm just a crazy animal lover. Oh, I don't need recognition. It just feels good to wake up every morning knowing that you're the Most Intelligent Person on Earth, doesn't it?
Rain on Snowman remains
Drips on lead roofing
Light on in a room
Phonecall in anticipation
Great fungus Tinhead robot child at play. Forrest fable. We hear no sound. Gum rubber and xantham colours shimmer in memory and past futures now. Green. Silver gold and bronze and velvets of green and autumn. Clack and tick of boy toys and wheels and all laid out.
Its a picnic now. But no one is eating. there is no one there
I could feel him inside me. Hard. Warm.
Though he only pressed against me, it was enough
As his mirror played with tongue
And the air was sucked from gum
I craved to have something more between my lips