Through the prison walls: Using published poetry to explore current UK prisoners’ narratives of past, present and future selves

Article


Devaliant, G., McGrath, L. and Kougiali, G. 2018. Through the prison walls: Using published poetry to explore current UK prisoners’ narratives of past, present and future selves. Qualitative Research in Psychology.
AuthorsDevaliant, G., McGrath, L. and Kougiali, G.
Abstract

Prison is a complex, hierarchical environment, which has been shown to both prompt existential reflection and act as a barrier to authentic emotional expression. The risks associated with emotional expression within prison are further suggested to inhibit forms of self-reflection crucial to successful desistance. This paper explores the use of poetry as a practice and a research method within such an environment. Using Narrative Thematic Analysis, 27 poems published in Inside Times magazine were examined, selected because of a focus on inmate subjectivity. Findings focus on the emotional, reflective and transportational qualities of poetry. We explore the capacity of poetry to both mediate reflexive, emotional experiences, and mitigate counter-therapeutic aspects of secure environments. We suggest shifting professional’s focus from changing inmate behaviours to the creation of ‘safe spaces’ or atmospheres within prison which will allow inmates the opportunity for emotional authenticity and the exploration of non-criminal selves.

KeywordsQualitative research; Subjectivity; Prison
JournalQualitative Research in Psychology
Year2018
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Accepted author manuscript
License
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)doi:10.1080/14780887.2018.1442701
Web address (URL)https://doi.org/10.1080/14780887.2018.1442701
Publication dates
Online20 Feb 2018
Publication process dates
Deposited28 Feb 2018
Accepted19 Feb 2018
Accepted19 Feb 2018
Copyright holder© 2018 Taylor & Francis
Copyright informationThis is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Qualitative Research in Psychology on 20.02.18, available online: http://www.tandfonline.com/10.1080/14780887.2018.1442701.
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