Poetry by Prisoners

Support the Koestler Collection Vol. 1 – the first edition of a biennial anthology of poetry by people in the criminal justice system

We did it!

On 2nd Aug 2017 we successfully raised £5,895 of £2,500 target with 174 supporters in 35 days

New stretch target


We are thrilled to have reached our target of £2,500 in just 10 days! THANK YOU to the 75 people whose generous support has made this project a reality.

Because of the stunning generosity of the donors so far we have not yet used up even half of the rewards on offer so we are going for it... DOUBLING THE TARGET to £5,000. The nice people at Crowdfunder says it's a good idea and they have sent us a load of statistics and graphs which show that our supporters would like the chance to win the remaining rewards. So who are we to deny you...

Funding from the TS Eliot Foundation and the £2,500 raised so far will be used to fund the design, production and marketing of the Anthology - including free copies to be distributed to 300 prison libraries. 

The new 'stretched' target will kickstart the fundraising part of the #PoetryByPrisoners Anthology. Every penny from every sale of the Anthology will be going towards the core costs of running the Koestler Trust. That's the tricky bit of running a charity - paying for everything from our team salaries to the photocopier.

2017 is the Koestler Trust's biggest year ever.  This year was want more entrants to our awards and more visitors to our exhibitions than ever before. Sir Antony Gormley is the curator to help us achieve this.  Big plans need big money and the crowdfunding will help get us there...

Grab yourself one of the great rewards and play your part in our big year - helping more prisoners change their lives and more people change their minds about prison and prisoners.

As a thank you, here's another wonderful poem, written in HMP Brixton,  from the Anthology read by our amazing trustee, Femi Martin 

In September 2017, the Koestler Trust will publish a collection of poetry selected from the very best poetry entries of the 2016 and 2017 Koestler Awards.

The Koestler Awards are an annual arts award programme for people in the criminal justice system across the UK.  Over 3,000 people take part each year, sharing their writing, performance, fine art, design and craft. Entrants gain certificates and feedback and can win awards, apply for mentoring and exhibit their work. Each year the Awards generate over 1,000 poems – making poetry one of our most popular artforms.

Award-winning pieces often give insights into living apart from friends and family, memories of home, and life in custody, but many are about the experiences we all share.

The Koestler Collection will showcase this writing, increase its prominence and respond to the question we hear every year at exhibitions – How can I enjoy these poems once the exhibition is over?

With the help of the T S Eliot Foundation and this campaign, Volume 1 will be the first of what will become an ongoing series, and this year will feature a foreword by poet Benjamin Zephaniah (who curated our UK exhibition in 2016). The collection will cover the range of settings and people that we work with, as well as the diversity of concerns that our entrants write about. But most importantly, we want to produce an anthology of excellent poetry that moves and inspires readers.

We would love it if you supported this project, all money raised will go towards making it happen and to finally give this powerful poetry the showcase it deserves. 

Our 2017 Koestler Award judges reading If, A Prisoner's Perspective with Apologies to Rudyard Kipling, an award-winning poem from the 2016 Koestler Awards

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