Todays Hidden Voice belongs to one of our writers from the Hidden Voices initiative known as Saughton Sonnets.

What you will read below is in my opinion a tale of hope, a realisation that aspiration is not exclusive to a certain cohort and a window to the thoughts and dreams of a very a talented human being.

Someone said – The most liberating feeling is the realisation & acceptance that you are not the expert but that you can through a process of collaboration add value to and create a fertile environment that offers a level of expertise to engage those who need a wee helping hand. It’s a source of great pride that Hidden Voices is offering a helping hand.

In addition the author’s note their winning poem is attached below for your consideration, stay safe folks and now over to PSD (you’ll figure that out).

If I’m being completely honest I originally entered into the Saughton Sonnets for the prize, I was skint and thought I’m in this crazy lockdown and doing nothing else – or at least that’s what I told myself – but with hindsight I think in a strange way that was me justifying my participation with the part of my ego that got me into my current predicament. I was also extremely aware of my environment and the general view amongst my peer group as normally any kind of self-expression in the medium of poetry is ridiculed and I was slightly afraid of the reaction.

So I decided to hatch a plan to write under a pseudonym originally so that no one would find out I’d entered the competition but it soon became so much more to me.  I played around with a lot of names before settling on one but even at this point my creative juices had started flowing and my wheels were turning and thank God because I was in a really bad place psychologically and emotionally. Here we all were in a self-imposed state of limbo (Prison sentence) with an imposed state of limbo (lockdown) and that means plenty of time to think, regret and worry about your family. I had put myself here by breaking the law they had done nothing wrong, I was the one in a place of safety and that upset me.

Once I had settled on my pseudynom (P Sue Denim) I just sat in front of a blank piece of paper and wrote the first thing that came into my head and that meant my poetry was about my emotions, the way I was feeling and then the subject matter took care of itself. I never sat down with an idea first. I realised thinking about it first made my poetry less authentic compared to when I just sat down and let it spew from my mind to the page.

I can remember feeling really proud of my first poem and I kept reading it over and over again thinking to myself “Did I really do that?” All I knew for certain was I felt so much better because of it. It was as if it had provided me with some closure over the subject and emotions attached to it.

The next seven days were quite literally the most exciting, expressive and emotional of my life to date simply because I had found a way of coping with all my thoughts and feelings through an art form and I was truly proud of what I was achieving. I’ve always been opinionated and quite political but now even the if the subject is brutal the words themselves make it beautiful and spur me on to challenge myself with ever more personal subjects. As I conquered each subject my self-worth and confidence grew and before I knew it the last day for entries had arrived.

If only I hadn’t waited so long to get started but the truth is you never know how something is going to be until you get involved so in a way that was a lesson in itself.

When the competition was over I thought what will I do now I was a bit overwhelmed with the hole that not writing poetry had left in my life.

So as I had done during “Saughton Sonnets” each time I was overwhelmed with emotions I got a pen and paper and bled on to the page. That was my salvation in that moment and every moment after that and that means more than any prize because that is mine forever and nobody can take that away from me. It is mine and mine alone, I can create beautiful things that come out of moments of despair or anguish and then come back to them at any time of my choosing and that’s a powerful tool to manage my life.

I must admit it felt like an eternity waiting for the results to come back and I would check the prison tv channel religiously hoping to see something but each time there was nothing self doubt would creep in and I would remember that everything is slow here for us but I also had achieved so much already. Some time later and when I’m no longer checking the TV me and another prisoner were summoned to the governor’s office. In my experience that had never been a good thing but he then proceeded to explain how Saughton Sonnets had had taken on a life of its own on the internet and had been viewed an unbelievable amount and that people were even subscribing to read it and that the following day the judging panel would be picking their winners. People like Ian Rankin and Darren McGarvey were reading or judging my poetry. I was so overwhelmed as I listened and to be honest part of me thought it was a joke and I was acutely awaiting the punchline but it never came.

It felt like I floated back to my cell. My feet not once touching the ground, I felt extremely proud and just kept bursting into fits of laughter and saying Ian Rankin out loud. I couldn’t get it through my head that educated people were interested in anything a convicted criminal would have to say but I was wrong and wrong Big!!!

The next day I was handed sheets of paper and I read the comments of the judges on each of my pieces and was blown away. Here were people talking about my fears and hopes and connecting with it like they were living my words. Let me tell you there’s truly no greater feeling than moving someone to tears or having them truly engage with your body of work, I felt bullet proof and as if I could achieve anything I put my mind to and to be honest I’ve never looked back since and now I attack life like I do poetry with confidence and emotion and kindness.

I am confident and happy with a vision of my future that doesn’t include crime and prison. I wrote to the chief executive of Scottish Prisons and congratulated him for hiring good forward thinking and progressive minds that are finally taking SPS out of the dark ages and embracing rehabilitation and I meant it. The people running prisons are starting to attack the old problems that existed with new directions and opportunities that promote self growth just as Saughton Sonnets did for me.

Looking back now I can see the points in which I had changed and if I could go back I’d change nothing I feel incredible.  Blessed to have taken part, it has gave me the confidence to try new things and helped me grow as a person. I have become extremely passionate about my poetry and have entered other competitions and one of my poems was singled out by the poet laureate I would never have done any of this without taking part in Hidden Voices and Saughton Sonnets it has allowed me to create my own superhero. That allows me to right poetry in a subjective way. P Sue Denim has become my alter ego of sorts and lets me express myself in ways I didn’t think were possible.

It’s crazy that I made the name to hide behind it and now I claim it with pride and confidence.

Thanks to all those who listened and cried along with me and thanks to the few who made it possible. Thanks for letting me dream and believe I could rub shoulders with giants, even if it is just for a breath.


A Little Jail Phone Call

Lying awake in the dark my thought’s are of my children & the wife
Im worried for their health my precious children are my life
And now theres no visit’s or bonding absaloutly nothing at all
All I can give to them is a little jail phone call

This call originate’s from a Scottish prison if you don’t want this call please hang up
But they have been waiting patiently I thank the stars for my luck
I chat away or listen intently to all they say and when its over Im standing tall
This is what they give back to me with a little jail phone call

Daddy I drew you a picture and can we sing you a song
Obviously I say yes and was over joyed to try and sing along
These are all the thing’s that pick me up when I feel I could fall
I don’t know what Id do with out a little jail phone call

I’m starting to realise the wife is struggling just to try and cope
I can hear it in her voice she’s reaching the end of her rope
I need to support her emotionaly & mentaly I can not drop the ball
This is what I give my wife with a little jail phone call

I also phone my nana and get a big family report
Im the one ment to be strong but she’s the one giving me support
This is what my family & I need if not I would hit the wall
The only thing keeping our spirits up is a little jail phone call

So goodnight my little babies sweetdreams when you goto bed
Dear wife I love you remember every single word Ive said
If we didnt have these moments I don’t think we would cope at all
We might be locked down but Im still grateful for,
A Little Jail Phone Call

Thanks to our wonderful writer and thank you for taking the time to read this Hidden Voices account, have a safe and relaxing weekend.

@FirstTimeInside out.


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