Tales of bravery and stupidity. Memories of better days.Recollections of being arrested and imprisoned. Poems of love and reflection. Honest, poignant and hugely powerful.

“Prison strips you of everything while absorbing you into itself, leaving nothing of the person you were before – at which point it will be a full stop or a first step on a path to who you will be …”

Funded by the Lankelly Chase Foundation, produced by Durham City Arts, gathered and edited by Richard W Hardwick, this book is an outcome and celebration of work produced by prisoners over a two year period. Prisoners participated in a range of creative writing focused projects that helped give them a voice and a platform to be heard in wider society.

Inside, lie tales of bravery and stupidity, memories of better days, recollections of being arrested and imprisoned, poems of love and reflection, prose that strips the reader of all that is unnecessary and helps them realise and appreciate the most important things in life.

Honest, poignant and also hugely powerful, this book reveals the creative and thoughtful side of a section of people often only referred to in terms of offence. And yet, this book is about far more than prisoners and prison life; it is about people, and the terrible and wonderful paths they often find themselves on.

 

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Razor Wire

Every window I look out from, I see nothing but razor wire. Coils of it sitting up high above every fence, every wall.

Sometimes ragged pieces of clothing hang flapping in the wind. Pigeons look for food thrown out of windows by inmates, until the crows come and scare them away. The lay of the land, survival of the fittest. Some of the pigeons look sad, some missing a foot, bald patches in their feathers. Who really are the survivors in life, I wonder…

That’s where the saying comes from.

Plenty of bird and bars, not the kind I would like. The saying ‘doing bird,’ ‘doing sparrow,’ relates to birds in cages. Some prisons, lifer jails, allow prisoners to keep budgerigars as pets, companions in their cells. Home Office legislation is now putting a stop to it, as prisoners who own budgerigars cause problems for the prison service when being transferred to other establishments.

A man convicted of murder can show love and care looking after one of God’s small creatures. Even the hardest of men have a heart. It’s just finding it. But prison does not encourage finding the heart. It destroys it. Binds it with coils of razor wire so tight it chokes the meaning of life from it.

One day I hope to see from my window a clear view, not obscured by fences and walls laced with razor wire. Maybe a little knee-high picket fence. Beyond that fields, trees and blue sky. Animals grazing. And hopefully my grandchildren, playing with my son, who will be a man. The pigeons won’t be the scrawny little survivors. They will be big overfed wood pigeons and collared doves. The clothes flapping in the wind will be washing on the line. I will see my wife folding the clothes and putting them in a basket. The smell of fear, hate and desperation will be gone, replaced by certainty, love and happiness. That’s my window; the window locked within my mind. A prisoner, never knowing the day of his release; doing time, doing bird, doing sparrow.

Mitch

 

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Suppressed

 If there’s one thing she knew, it’s that she knew nothing at all

For she could not see repressed love in his saddened eyes

Integrity could not rise passion in a sleeping heart.

If there’s one thing he knew it’s that he knew nothing at all

Mistook pain for anger, insecurity for scorn

A decade past, a new day is born

The prickly rose has lost her thorns.

And there’s one thing they know now,

It’s that they know nothing at all

Sam

 

There are a limited number of copies of Shattered Images and Building Bridges available for £10

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Told with courage, humour and love, Andalucia weaves past and present with great skill so the pace of the narrative never falters. A zest for life on every page that I found both moving and inspiring

Pat Barker – winner of The Booker Prize

This absolutely captivated me. I couldn’t put it down. One of the best books I’ve read…breath-taking

Janette Jenkins  – author of Angel of Brooklyn, Little Bones and Firefly

Tender and potent: a beautifully crafted narrative, rich with love and free of sentimentality. A story for every family that has been menaced by cancer

Barry Stone, author of Barking at Winston

When someone you love is diagnosed with cancer, every second you have left with them is precious.

Richard W Hardwick wrote about his partner’s breast cancer to help him cope, and then he wrote about their past because he was scared she might not be there to help him remember it for the children. Andalucía tells the story of a young couple falling in love in the Golan Heights and Israel, living in the cheapest hostel in Amsterdam’s red-light district and becoming homeless in Greece. Past and present is skilfully woven together to form a unique and beautiful portrait of a family facing the ultimate fear.

Gripping, heart-breaking, raw and inspiring, Andalucía is an unforgettable journey, both geographically and of the soul. It is also a life-affirming celebration of the strength of human spirit, the healing power of nature, and the endurance, and importance, of community.

 

 

Andalucia front cover

 

Absolutely beautiful, heart-breaking story, written with the deepest passion. I was bawling within the first couple of paragraphs

–Genevieve Graham

 

A beautiful piece of work, deeply moving. Your writing flows effortlessly and you are a wonderful storyteller
– Mala Iyer

Every reader will empathize with the words and wish they could express their emotion so well. So well they draw tears from strangers
– Francene Stanley

Andalucia can be bought here for £5.99. If you want a personally signed and dedicated copy then please contact richard@lapwingbooks.com or leave a comment below when ordering

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A novel to stand up alongside Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting, offering a window into

the youth of today. A fantastic book expressing the cynicism and

dissatisfaction of those on the edge of society

Waterstone’s Recommended Read

 

The narrative is so strong, the characters and dialogue so real, the situation so heart-breaking.

This is masterful and should win several literary prizes

Patricia J. Delois, award-winning author of Bufflehead Sisters

 

Hardwick’s writing has the power and humanity to make you wonder about

the way you see the world, and to give voice to those whose stories

usually remain untold

Laura Brewis, New Writing North

 

A truly compelling page-turner

Inside Time, the national newspaper for prisoners

Kicked Out pic (2)

 

Sixteen-year-old Danny is kicked out by his parents and has nowhere to go but a shelter for homeless teenagers. There he finds a friend in the more experienced Goochy, who helps him find his feet. But the other residents are every bit as troubled and complex as Danny, and with drugs, alcohol, crime, sex and violence always on the cards, the house is soon simmering like a pressure cooker about to blow. In this turbulent environment, between binges and wild escapades, Danny begins to reflect and grow. But a discovery about his family places him under a pressure he cannot contain…

Kicked Out draws on the author’s experiences of working with young homeless and young offenders and is essential reading for anyone hoping to understand today’s unwanted youth. Hard-hitting and unsentimental without being bleak, gripping, at times hilarious – you will never look at kids on the street in the same way again.

 

Copies available for just £3.99. If you would like a personally signed and dedicated copy then please contact Richard at richard@lapwingbooks.com or leave a comment below

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