A Prison Chaplain Poet

Image – zenosfrudakis.com/freedom-sculpture – “I wanted to create a sculpture almost anyone, regardless of their background, could look at and instantly recognize that it is about the idea of struggling to break free. This sculpture is about the struggle for achievement of freedom through the creative process.” – Zenos Frudakis

My Story Part 4

For two years, from 2017, I was a volunteer Prison Chaplain in the Women’s Correctional Centre one day a week. I started sharing my poems with the ladies as I made my way around the prison units. Each week I would hand out select poems that blended with the conversation I was having with a woman at the time.

In 2018, I accompanied another chaplain into the Men’s Correctional Centre. I started a small guitar and singing group which provided the music for the prison chapel service that we conducted once a month. I would also recite a Christian poem at each service.

I was very nervous reciting my poems to an audience. Even though I practiced reciting each poem many many times throughout the month, I could not remember the words and I had to read from my cheat sheet. I was so nervous, I wouldn’t take my eyes off my sheet in fear of losing my place or making a mistake. Both the men and the women prisoners loved my poems and were encouraged by them. I was encouraged by their positive response to my poetry.

My method of sharing my poetry was clunky, messy and time consuming. At home, I photocopied, cut and pasted each poem into a notebook as my master copy, which I had to leave at the prison office. Then each week, once inside the prison, I would photocopy poems from my notebook to give to the prisoners as loose pieces of paper.

I started thinking of how I could publish my poems into book or booklet form, or on greeting cards, not only to make available inside the prisons, but also to the general public.

When I left prison chaplancy, I kept my notebook of poems. It is a visual tangible goal for me. I often flick through it knowing that one day, soon, I will hold a published books of poetry in my hands.

Up until the time of my prison chaplaincy days, I had not shared my poems with anyone outside of sharing a few of them with my husband, family and close friends. I was too nervous to share my poetry with the public. I didn’t think anyone would be interested. I felt frustrated and selfish that I had this gift, this talent, that flowed out of me, but I was too shy to share it. I would freeze up at the thought of it.

It was time to release myself from my own prison of fear and free myself to move toward my goal of sharing my poetry with the world…

Beverley Joy of Simply Story Poetry

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