The library at HMP Berwyn celebrated its first literary festival last week.

The series of events, held alongside World Book Night on April 23, saw authors and poets visit the prison to give the men the chance to write their own work.

On Monday, comic poet Les Barker performed to an audience of men from across HMP Berwyn, some of whom joined in with their own poems.


Feedback received after the event was universally positive with one of the men writing: “It was both funny and informative. I hope it will encourage others to read their work at future events. And let’s hope there will be many future events.”

World Book Night was celebrated with a quiz and book giveaway.

Later in the week Vaseem Khan, author of the Baby Ganesh Detective Agency novels, gave a talk to English classes at HMP Berwyn, and Welsh language author Sian Northey took the first of a series of workshops to encourage Welsh speakers at HMP Berwyn to produce their own written work in Welsh.

Ms Northey said: “I’ve enjoyed the experience immensely. The men have a wealth of stories to tell and I’m looking forward to returning.

“I’d like to thank Literature Wales for funding these workshops and giving me the opportunity to work with the men at HMP Berwyn.”

“Wealth of interest in literature and books at HMP Berwyn”

Librarian Alys Lewis said: “One of HMP Berwyn’s founding principles is the Principle of Normality, which requires us to replicate the outside world as closely as possible.

“In this spirit it gave us great pleasure in the library to welcome our visiting authors and provide a programme of events for the men here, in the same way our sister library in Wrexham does.

“There is a wealth of interest in literature and books at HMP Berwyn and a great deal of creativity among the men here and we were very glad to be able to encourage this during this week.

“We hope to provide many similar events in the future.”

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