At SMK’s first ‘digital’ Change Network event ‘Children and Young People in Custody’ on 22 April we welcomed writer Jhanzab Khan from Leaders Unlocked, who gave a live recital of his poem Caged Revolution. It was moving and thought-provoking. Here he speaks about his background and experiences of prison.
During my time in prison, I felt that writing was such a strong necessity. Because I was someone who struggled to communicate my thoughts and feelings.
I didn’t have a specific interest in literary arts. In fact, I didn’t finish secondary school so I came to prison without any GCSE’s. I wasn’t writing to meet some sort of standard or education level. I was writing because I felt that self expression in a place like prison was a biggest part of my survival.
When you spend 23 hours a day in a cell, you quickly learn that the greatest danger to yourself, is you. Especially when you consider the fact that most people in prison have been exposed to so much adversity, even at the earliest stages of their lives.
All we are left with is regrets and painful memories. That solitude forces you to reflect upon. If we aren’t given an outlet for these things that we’ve been through, the consequences can be life threatening. It’s well known that suicide is no stranger to prison.
What started as daily diary entries expanded into poetry and short stories. My passion for creative writing grew. Despite not learning it in your typical classroom settings, I began to read more and study creative writing through the books I borrowed from the library.
I have a specific interest in working with young people and I would like to do more with what I’ve learnt. In the future, I hope to build stable relationships because I know how much consistency matters. I want to be that person for young people. The one that they trust enough to challenge themselves and do something different.
Leaders Unlocked enables young people and underrepresented groups to have a stronger voice on the issues that affect their lives. In education, policing, health, justice and elsewhere, we help organisations to involve the people who matter and shape decision-making for the better.