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Prisoners’ poetry available in Northland medical centres

NRCF prisoners’ poetry available in Northland medical centres

Patients visiting Northland medical centres can now read poetry written by prisoners from Northland Region Corrections Facility (NRCF) while awaiting their doctors’ appointment.

NRCF has distributed about 200 copies of ‘While U Wait’, an anthology of poems by prisoners, to medical centres in Kaikohe, Kerikeri and Kawakawa, as part of the 20th anniversary of National Poetry Day, today.

“This is a great opportunity for the wider community to read the men’s creative work,” says Michael Rongo, NRCF Acting Prison Director.

“NRCF’s creative writing course gives prisoners the chance to address their offending behaviour and hone their literacy skills, which enables them to take part in training that can assist them in finding a job once they are released.”

NRCF has been delivering a creative writing programme to prisoners over the past two years, conducted by tutor Bridget Jochems. Between 10 and 15 men take part in the class at any one time.

The programme aims to give the prisoners the opportunity to express themselves in a creative way, articulate their thoughts and teach them constructive criticism. At the same time, it contributes to the men’s literacy skills, as they actively read, write and edit to find the best way of communicating their ideas.

“I like the focus this gives me, and I like the homework as it gives me something to think about when I’m in my cell,” says one of the prisoners.

The creative writing group has also published ‘Reflections’, a journal of creative writing, which is available for sale in a local art collective in Kawakawa.

An example of one of the poems in ‘While U Wait’:


There’s one of two possibilities
Either you’re interested or you’re not
It you’re not, that’s okay
But if you are
There’s one of two possibilities
Either you’re bored or you’re waiting
If you’re waiting that’s okay
But if you’re bored
There’s one of two possibilities
Either you can read this alone or share
This with someone.
If you read this alone that’s okay
But it you want to share with someone
There’s one of two possibilities
Either they’re interested or they’re not


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