It is an absolute privilege to share the last group of Hidden Voices for 2020 in this Christmas week.

Throughout this tough year we have strived to offer a platform for those normally denied such an opportunity to communicate with “us” on the outside of the prison walls and today – as they have on every other occasion – they have done so with a devastating mix of raw authenticity, talent and no little humanity.

The second part of Sleigh Cells Ring once again features creative writing in the form of poetry from the residents of HMP’s Edinburgh and Low Moss.


Between each of the poems you will find comments from our Hidden Voices community. A community drawn from all walks of justice both community and criminal, as well as the literary, arts and academic arenas as well as members with so called lived experience alongside a Scottish Govt Minister. That each and every one of them gave up their time over this past weekend to make this possible says so much for them and I think the project we have produced across this challenging Covid blighted year.

This week I thought I’d share just a few of their more general comments prior to your reading the poems to demonstrate the connection made with our community from inside to outside by our courageous authors…

“Again – what a high standard!  I am blown away by the talent and ability of people to express themselves so well on paper. The variety of themes is striking too – and that is after giving them a single topic on which to work – and I just love that.  It really demonstrates the broad spectrum of artistic talent. I do hope that all the participants are proud of their achievements and will acknowledge and develop their skills further.”

“It has been a crazy busy week but it was wonderful to spend time reading these poems. I loved feeling the human connection and found strength and wisdom in there – as well as some of the very raw emotions we are all feeling. Thank you.”

“As always, an extremely high standard of work and some challenging reads.  Special mention to another poem that really stood out, Under the Mistletoe – Loved this and it was almost in my top three.  Beautifully written and melancholic in nature. It strikes me that this must be a really challenging subject to write about when people are away from their families, particularly at this time in the midst of a pandemic.  This came through in many of the poems.  Huge thanks to each and every poet for laying their souls bare and sharing their thoughts and words with us, we cannot underestimate the bravery and courage this takes, whilst at the same time being cathartic for some.  Humbled to read and connect with the poets through their words.”

“What a joy and delight to read another brilliant round of Sleigh Bells Ring, Hidden Voices poems. I have found myself so moved at the honesty, skill and reflective nature of these talented poets. I feel so privileged to be reading their stories and choosing three has been near impossible. I want to thank them all for their writing, and I hope they all continue to write and tell their stories, we need to hear them.”

Without further ado please enjoy the Christmas themed verses from HMP Edinburgh and HMP Low Moss.


SRC – 1

Don’t be elfish this Christmas

This time of year, shouldn’t be associated with fear

It should be about good food with a wine or a beer

But we all have instead is sick people stuck in be

Think of how many we’ve lost I can’t get it through my head

No friends or even family, my god it’s a tragedy

What happened to help from the rich, what happened to philanthropy?

So Christmases are not the same, celebrated in Jesus’ name

So stay home this festive season cause pandemic does not mean game

Do don’t you try an play, so in your home you should stay

Trust me if you die you’re gone , there’s no coming back once you’re away

So stay in touch by phone, even though you feel alone

Be thankful you’re alive this Christmas, in your wee safe zone

Get yourself a little gift, to make your spirit lift

And this moment in time will be over, quick, smart and swift

So please just watch what you do, to make that year that’s new

That new year won’t be so great if that year is missing you

If you were a water bear, and so resilient you didn’t need to care

But human beings are so vulnerable so stay deep in your lair

So beautiful people, there is hope, just wash your hands with soap

I promise Father Christmas will come down your chimney on a rope

Even as he is doing his task, Santa wears a little mask

I wonder if he’s got your present, so if I see him I will ask


“There was something sweetly engaging about this poem – can’t quite put my finger on exactly what it was but I suppose that is the art of the poet – to make you feel things. The reference to “Your Wee Safe Zone” stood out for me – a reminder that some have been doubly locked down and that for them it really is just the size of their cell that they have.  There was also something brilliantly child-like and innocent about the Santa on a rope…”

“A fine effort at a fair length of rhyming verse but the poet should be congratulated for maintaining an engaging pace (meter) with a mixture of light hearted phrasing and yet serious health message to those celebrating Christmas during a pandemic. Perhaps the First Minister should read this at one of the Briefings.”

“What a clear public health message that neatly sums up all the frustrations and limitations of self-isolation and bringing out the message that although this Christmas is special, it is but one (if you play safe) and that the new year won’t be wonderful if the person is not there because of not staying safe. Great story telling and good rhythm and rhyme.”

“I really enjoyed the light touch of the writing combined with the depth of the message and beautifully articulated advice that ran throughout this poem. Whilst realistic in the present , the hope for the future was clear and the final wee touch of humour wrapped it up in a perfect festive package.”


SRC -2

Under the Mistletoe

Under the mistletoe beloved’s kiss

Would open the door to bliss.

Shadows would move on.

Sadness will be gone.

Love will do its part.

Colours will fill your heart.

Hurry past under falling snow.

Dance merry under the light’s glow.

Kindness would remove wounding thorns.

Flames of passion will burn shames and scorns.

Mercy will illumine the Christmas Day.

Sighs and darkness would vanish away.

Caring will cool the blazing coals.

Sharing will set free the burdened souls


“Powerful words and powerful images. This writer really conjures up what they are personally missing about being locked up as well as underlining the importance of relationships. The more you read it then the more that you find in it…perhaps more complex than I first thought.”

“A poem of imagery which has been given some thought beyond the standard Christmas sparkly stuff and the poet deserves praise for the shaping of the poem. I liked this poem.”

“One small act – a kiss under the mistletoe – releases all the special experiences of passion, sharing, joy of life, shared with someone you are in love with. There is a sadness in the memory of the magical powers of being in that situation (which the poet is not).   I also felt that the shape of the lines laid out on the page looked like a keyhole that we have just looked through to see that scene.”

“Under the Mistletoe. The power of love was communicated throughout this wonderful poem. No mention of COVID which was also really refreshing. Life’s wider struggles were captured in the evocative language with the solutions all coming from caring, kindness, love and light. A poem that kept drawing me back in. Thank you so much for this.”

“This short poem packs a serious punch of love and Christmas wishes. This is a poem that left a smile on my face. With each line you have created such powerful and love filled images which makes it hard not to rejoice as each line comes to an end. The rhyming couplets add another joyful touch to this poem, which sees each line bounce and sway like a dance merry under the light’s glow. Please keep writing, I enjoyed reading this poem a great deal. All the best to you and yours this Christmas. Thank you for sharing your poem with us, it needed to be heard and read and shared across the web!”

“The poem ‘Under the Mistletoe’ is articulate and affecting. It shows considerable insight – into different emotions, into the value of connection, into what really matters at Christmas (and it’s not material things).”


SRC – 3

My Christmas Tail

Christmas morning in your house, up early so outside’s still dark

Presents in boxes with ribbons, some green and some red

But I wake up to doors banging, being counted is how my day’s start

There’s no selection box or stocking at the top of my bed

You sit on the floor with family opening presents of delight

Beside a tree with an angel, there’s smile and laughter

But Santa didn’t come to my cell in the dead of night

No bottles of aftershave, no CDs, DVDs or chocolates for after

Kids play with their toys and adults watch and relax

And mother puts turkey in the oven to prepare the meal

In the hall, nothing has changed, even at Christmas we watch our backs

There might be no trouble but it’s ingrained and just how we feel

We find solace with family at Christmas and enjoy a drink

Sing songs and build memories for our kids to remember

In prison Christmas is background noise and time to think

We’re all praying for January to come to say goodbye to December

Chocolate gadgets, new phones and selfies galore

Tinsels and mistletoe, candles and lights with some glitter

While we sit around glum denying we’re vulnerable are sore

False smiles and fake laughter to hide that we’re bitter

Roast potatoes and mash and pigs in a blanket and turkey so good

Paper hats and crackers, glasses of prosecco at the table

For us Christmas dinner is better but how we feel doesn’t change by changing the food

We need kindness and charity, even criminals deserve some room at the stable

But I get it for now I’m not so much as an equal to you

And you no doubt think that I deserve all I get

I hope I have Christmas’s like this when my life becomes new

And I’ve repented and society says I’ve repaid all my debt


“Two sides to this poem: – the happy images of Christmas past and with which the writer aspires to engage with again coupled with the accurate and brilliantly worded experiences of being in the jail. You can feel the stress and pressure that people who are serving a sentence are often under – Foucault was right when he described it as moving from physical punishment to mental torture. This poem endorses and expands on that view…but also finishes with HOPE!”

“A poem which pivots subtly but doesn’t lose any of the power of its message: the difference between the perceived festive normal with all its trappings and the stark reality of Christmas inside from an inmates perspective. There’s a saying that a poet should in most circumstances only draw from personal experience and not try to create imagery from a false perspective. This is such a set of circumstances.”

“This is an epic description comparing domestic Christmases past with a prison experience; a day that is little different from any other.  There’s an energy in the swings back and forth between the two scenarios from warm, sociable scenes to clashing noises and nervous tension.  The author is clear as to what type of Christmas he prefers and wants to experience again when he’s completed his sentence.”

“The poem ‘My Christmas Tail’ captures the rituals, routines and symbols of Christmas well – the things we decorate our lives with in this festive season. The author communicates with a sense of longing. We are offered insights into what Christmas is like in prison through their perceptive writing. Well done.”



SRC – 4

Story of the 25th

Story of the 25th

Is it just a myth?

Whether this be truth of foe

We are just dipping our toe

In one version of a story.

The one we believe on these isles

Is what is written in the files

Christ was born this day

How we celebrate

Is often up for debate.

It now known a Christmas Day

We give presents to friends and family

When we are young all this is great

But all this can lead us to an uncertain fate

I hope we are not too late

Most of us will get ourselves into debt

However, we must not forget

To truly appreciate how we should celebrate

This day.

Gifts do not matter

Even if they do flatter

Being with friends and family

Should be number one on our list this year

After the year we have had

Everyone is feeling sad

If coronavirus has taught us one thing

It is that we must appreciate what we have

Because as if by the flick of a switch everything

Can be taken away

Life is too short so we should always forgive and forget.

Typical winter weather has set in

The weather outside is frightful

Lockdown not so delightful

So we have nowhere to go

So let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.


“I cannot be the only one who heard the music in the last stanza, or perhaps I am! A very clever way to examine and evaluate the meaning of Christmas – simple construction and it engenders a warm glow on the inside…”

“Fine poetry which has trimmed the excess of fat of unnecessary words and is the better for it and I liked the temptation at the end of the poem where it strays the reader into singing Let it snow! I ain’t no Frank Sinatra or Dean Martin so will leave it at that having enjoyed the poem. PS – did you know the original number was written during a Californian summer heatwave?”

“This poem covers everything in different rythm and style. It highlights the variety of thoughts we individually experience or know about Christmas ie sceptical about the jollity, religion, (too many) presents exchanged, and that the material things are not really important.  Of all years, 2020 has revealed that it is people who matter- the most and it has been from people that we have suddenly been cut off.  It ends with a look to the weather and familiar song suitably adapted for Lockdown.”


SRC – 5


Looking to the stars, wondering if Santa can fit through bars

Chuckling to myself, imagining his lack of stealth

I can’t help but wonder, if he went on a diet

Then maybe he could try it?

‘Cause if he lost some of that gut,

and a couple of inches round the butt

Minus his humungous swell,

he could sneak into my cell

Though I think he may be a tad pissed,

that I found my way onto the naughty list

I hope he still comes

after all we are chums

Years of cookies and milk left at the door

One would hope he appears with gifts galore

But if he doesn’t show up here,

then in future I fear

There will be no more sweeties,

just a burning paper bag filled with faeces

And a small note from me, saying – shove that on your tree


“Describing this poem as “being funny” is doing it a great injustice – it was fantastically fecking funny, as well a whole list of other adjectives that can precede funny. This also brought back some of my own childhood memories – I often wondered how Santa got into my house because we never had a chimney either. And, as the last paragraph shows, even though locked up there is still some compassion and the intention to share with others…brilliant poem.”

“Irreverence is beautiful when shaped into a poem of this calibre and any poet rhyming ‘sweeties’ with ‘faeces’ gets a bonus point – not in a burning paper bag.”

“I smiled all through this and laughed out loud at the end – the wonderful dreamlike imaginings of Santa and how he could arrive into the cell, and the joy our poet would experience from that visit. He reflects on his offerings of cookies and milk to Santa in the past and ends with the threat/promise that if he doesn’t turn up this year that his offering will be different next year!  I can really imagine a guy telling this story!”

“The poem ‘Manipulating Santa’ is written in a way which suggests a cheeky and cracking sense of humour, with a defiant sense of protest at the end. It made me smile. It is quite relatable content – Santa may not be the only one in need of Weight Watchers this lockdown!”


SRC – 6

The Ghost of Covid Present

Another year has almost gone, this one here felt twice as long

So much about it felt so wrong, keep moving forward

And you might be an average Joe, paranoid everywhere you go

Maybe the feelings will change with snow, keep moving forward

Little children singing silent night, accompanied by stars so bright

Then a Christmas morning that’s crisp and white, keep moving forward

I don’t think everyone understands, it’s not the normal Christmas plans

Social distance and washing hands, keep moving forward

Do that and lives you will save, by preventing another wave

This Christmas you be brave, keep moving forward

It’s natural to have your doubts whenever your child pouts

When confronted with Christmas Brussel sprouts, keep moving forward

Realise what you have got, think about those who have not

Spare them a little thought, keep moving forward

Stop a virus being on the breeze, cover your face before you sneeze

Enjoy your day around Christmas trees, keep moving forward

Savour those family meals, contact is contact no matter how it feels

Keep corona on its heels, keep moving forward

Keep positive you won’t fail, with winter breeze in your sail

We smile though we’re in jail, keep moving forward

As God is my only witness, covid is an evil mistress

So please have a safe and Merry Christmas

As you move forward


“Long-term prisoners often face barriers to their progression. They can come from a multiplicity of sources but for any chance of parole you have to keep moving forward. An interesting mash up of issues in this poem, it certainly got me thinking.”

“A brilliant title for a poem and the use of the repeating phrase ’Keep Moving Forward’ as a hook maintains the pace of the poem with solid imagery in between and as whole lives up to the title’s promise.”

“This should be called ‘Keep Moving Forward’ I love the pace of this poem; the rhyming is so lyrical describing each scene in 2 lines and ending with ‘Keep moving forward’.  It really reflects the plodding pace of 2020 – all of us not knowing exactly where we are going but doing what we need to do, and, ‘keep moving forward’!  I can’t get this one out of my head.  Love it.”

“I’ve picked this one as my Number 1 because it is very cleverly crafted and really original in style, with the repetition of ‘keep moving forward’ and conclusion of ‘as you move forward’. It’s a tale of survival, and a plea to keep going, and captures well how we all feel, leaving to one side that it was authored by a person in prison, for whom this drive to survive must be magnified and intensified, with or without Covid. This mantra of moving forward conveyed to me a focus on a time yet to come, the promise of another time, as a way of getting through a present life which is not in any sense lived, both inside and out.”

The Ghost of Covid Present. Really enjoyed reading this one.  Good rhythm, to the writing and use of language.  Reflections and memories of the past combined with hope for the future by moving forward consistently.  One of my favourites.”

“this has been the toughest of years but we have found strengths we didn’t know we had and this poem conjures up all of that. Despite everything – we find the strength to keep moving forward. It’s good to remember that.”

“My Christmas Tail – a heartfelt and honest reflection of what it means to be in prison at Christmas, reminding the reader that life inside can be forgotten whilst others are enjoying their Christmas Day meals and gifts. It offers hope at the end, that society will be kind and that the poet can celebrate Christmas one day too.  It gives the reader time to pause and remember those who won’t be celebrating this year in the way others do.”


SRC – 7

It’s virtually Christmas

Christmas should be family, Christmas shouldn’t be political

Christmas is customary, ceremonial and habitual

But because of covid, it’s became virtual and digital

Where communication electronically is normal an reciprocal

Disconnected personally into a world that’s not relatable

Mechanical and technical not loving or spiritual

That takes away the identity of every single individual

Human kind has been careless, stupid and remissible

Our world is finite not infinite or renewable

It’s plain to see that man is so stupid and reprehensible

Not beautiful, trustworthy or even sensible

This is plain to see, the subject is not debatable

Covid stole Christmas, a debt that’s not repayable

You got here in your life, what’s next is residual

No longer in a world that’s perfect or irresistible

So out of touch and completely unconnectable

Their flaws unbelievable on a level that’s unexplainable

Sorry for going on but Christmas with family is so valuable

But it won’t be long until Christmas is unobtainable


“What a magnificent insight in to the issues surrounding Christmas this year and so eloquently put! The writer uses big picture elements to get across personal regrets and issues. Clever writing…but there is the lingering feeling that there is still time for change.”

“Capable, Remarkable, Notable, Relatable – Overall a poem that’s connectable.”

“I loved the Gilbert & Sullivan quality to the poem; playing with the rhythm, the shape and sound of the words.  The dislike of the 2020 requirement to use digital communication in place of 1:1 human interaction causes the poet to feel angry with the alteration of what Christmas should be ie all together, to relying on machines. The stupidity of man is not overlooked.  This year Covid restrictions makes it feel as if Christmas has been stolen and there is a frustration that people are not appreciating the importance of a shared family Christmas sufficiently with the inherent possibility that it may disappear altogether.  It is a poem of our time and reflects the huge shift in human communication.  Will the move to digital be temporary or permanent?”

“What struck me about this poem was the brilliant rhyming nature of it, this felt like a piece of spoken word or a rap, the rhyming keeps it moving line after line after line. I loved reading this and I loved reading it aloud – I’d love to hear this performed one day! You also make some very important political points about our environment – the lines: ‘Our world is finite not infinite or renewable It’s plain to see that man is so stupid and reprehensible Not beautiful, trustworthy or even sensible This is plain to see, the subject is not debatable’, really stuck with me and it was very difficult to ignore, much like our climate crisis. You mix the messages of Christmas to make important points about the environment, I like this comparison and I totally agree with you. You really are a wordsmith, you have crafted something so skilful here, it has such a driving flow, each line flies off the page with passion and energy. Keep writing, keep rhyming!”

“The poem ‘It’s Virtually Christmas’ is melodic and clever with its hip hop-style rhyme scheme, which I love. It has oomph and acumen. It is very well written. Well done.”

“Another superbly constructed and intelligent poem, ‘virtually Christmas’, in terms of a virtual Christmas and it being virtually here [insert clap emoji]. There is a sense of sadness and reproach throughout this poem, and of disconnect – from Christmas past, but on a broader scale too.”

“It’s Virtually Christmas. So well written!  This was another poem that I could imagine being read out loud or used as a rap.  It nodded its cap to the damage we continue to do to the environment within which we all live, blaming no one but ourselves for Covid and the ensuing chaos.  Recognised the clear disconnect between the digital world, the fakeness and disconnect of that compared to real connections and relationships.  Brilliant!”


SRC – 8

A Child’s Tip from Dad

Christmas is a selection box and getting new underwear with socks

Reindeers pulling sleights and landing beside chimney tops

Where Father Christmas’s magic can make your chimney wide

So he can get those presents and him inside, he does his job well

He does it with pride, if you are still awake he will wait and hide

The very moment you fall asleep he will pile those presents deep

As long as you behaved, his promise he will keep

Softly and gently silent, no sound not a peep

As long as you left Rudolph a little treat, a little carrot or something sweet

Their trip they won’t mind to repeat

To remember what house is yours in that snowy street

But they’re not off to see your neighbour, because of his past behaviour

He does not deserve Santa and his reindeers labour

Being good from now on will be his only saviour

So children keep your good behaviour up

Behaving is a choice, it is not luck

It’s not easy its hard work, so do not drive mum and dad berserk

Please, please, please help Santa to do his business

Of spreading joy to one and all this Very Merry Christmas


“This was a difficult poem to read. The imagery conjures up perfection and how a fall from that expectation can result in punishment. Whilst expressing it as a wish for the child it is clear that a whole lot of self-introspection is going on. It projects sorrow, remorse and a commitment for better. However that was not the initial difficulty – I just could not get the image of “underwear with socks” out of my head, a new sort of onesie for the world, it made me chuckle.”

“A poem that I found myself as I read on whispering and realising I was really speaking to the Bairns whisky occasionally checking over my shoulder just in case the Elves heard me. Lovely idea and poem.”

“I can hear the Dad telling this story and imagine it being a bedtime tale of how Santa magically arrives, what he does and what he looks for. In common with good fairy tales there is a cautionary message for children – to be good – to help Santa do his work!  A lovely Christmas story.”


SRC – 9

An atheists Christmas

The time has returned, for us all to get burned

It’s Christmas again, when I feel in pain

Where I’m forced to pay, through the nose for one day So just stop buying, I hear them all sighing

I’d risk my Girls loathing, if I bought them no-thing

So I do as I’m told, and wonders behold

They love their daddy, and I admit, sadly

The joy that I bring, outweighs my chagrin.


“Bah humbug I say and two fingers to global capitalism. Short, succinct and very much to the point. A rebellion with added conformity – loved it!”

“Honest, short and to the point as is this review. Good poem with the right balance of the poet’s take on Christmas without slipping from poem to rant.”

“This is a wonderfully conflicted father’s view of Christmas and one with which I think many empathise! The financial extravagance, pushing people beyond their means, feeling the social pressure to do so, and to take part even when others know how you feel and say ‘just opt out then’, is so true.  But the poet, like us all, reluctantly is forced to agree/accept that the joy on his daughters’ faces at Christmas does bring him real joy!”

“There is something very relatable about the anti-capitalist defiance in the poem ‘An Atheist’s Christmas’, whether readers are people of faith or none. The Western societal pressure to spend substantial sums on gifts warrants this critical analysis, a reflection which is especially timely in a year dominated by inequalities and the realities that demonstrate that what matters most cannot be bought. The sweetness of the author’s daughters’ joy is a lovely way to end the poem.”

“this poem is very thought provoking. Succinct but highlights many of the conflicts we feel at this time of year – even in a normal year – and the lengths nearly all parents go to, to make good memories for their children.”


SRC – 10

Christmas Future!

If I was to tell you what a Christmas future is, or what it means to me

It would be a celebration but only if I am free

I want to wrap presents up, and place them below a tree

And seeing my children happy, will be enough for me

I want them to write to sant, to ask for what they’d like

I think it will be a phone, these days kids don’t want a bike

Or a karaoke machine so they can sing along with a mic

It doesn’t matter what they want, their wish is my delight

Id put the decorations up, to get the family in the mood

An help my wife with the preparation, like a husband should

Maybe Itll be my turn to burn the Christmas food

Never mind my children can binge on Christmas pud

The main thing is we’re happy together with each other

My beautiful children and their gorgeous mother

And covid is gone, a nightmare of Christmas past

So we can go to church for the midnight mass

Families and friends together, in one place at last

Warm and safe we light candles, and watch the shadows cast

So this is my wish, and what Christmas future is to me

But can only be my Christmas, “if I am free”


“Insightful inside line on how important relationships are – a recurring theme for these poems! It comes across very strongly in this. The notion of freedom, families matter and helping others are not normally the traits associated by people on the outside but time and time again these poems, and this one in particular, articulate and express these values. I liked it!”

“An honest expression of the poet’s wishes through the use of creative phrasing the length of the poem which has a comfortable scan about it and at no point does it feel weighed down with extra stuffing.”

“This poem is from the heart. I hear clearly the longing. It is a very idealised, clear imaging of a family Christmas.  The poet wants to observe the happiness of his kids and wife on the day – but only when he’s free.  He wants to be fully engaged in community life.  He desperately wants to join in with company and have left all the nightmares of prison and Covid behind.  I hope he gets it soon.”

“After the year we have all had this poem left me feeling hopeful. And I too look forward to a time when you can fully enjoy the Christmas you described, back with your family and hopefully not burning the turkey. I love the story you’re telling; you’ve woven beautiful images of you and your family together, with hope and humour, and the rhyming last lines keep the poem moving forward, it keeps a beat of a brilliant poem. I wish you and yours all the best, please keep writing, your stories need to be heard and when you craft something like the Christmas Futures! The world needs to hear more!”

“I picked this poem because it made me feel happy, it was both nostalgic and hopeful, and again, like so many of the poems in this series, brilliantly put together. I hope the author is free for next year, and gets to live their dream of a perfect Christmas, their future Christmas.”

“The yearning for freedom can be felt throughout.  There’s a wish for normality and the things many of us take for granted.  This one really made me think, it almost lulled me into thinking this was a nice wee Christmas poem before bringing me back down to earth with the line ‘only if I am free’”


SRC – 11

This Christmas

Oh my friends, I hope on this Christmas

You may share with family merry moments

And dream of the marvellous days to come.

May this Christmas take you closer

To God’s Divine grace and

Bestow upon you pleasant and precious memories

To keep you going until next year.

May this blessed occasion open the door of your heart

And fill your life with peace and prosperity.

May this Christmas reveal to you

The secret of eternal bliss

And escort you to the gates of mercy.


“Short, succinct and spiritual. A plea for all that is holy. Strangely, the voice in my head reading this was President Bartlett from the West Wing, he often went off in a spiritual soliloquy too…great writing by Sorkin and great writing by this poet too.”

“A short but no less sincere verse blessed with a message of hope. A fine effort.”

“This poem is a blessing to all to have family sharing, to be brought closer to God and to build precious memories in peace.  A welcome and surprising theme from an obviously very spiritual person.  It really did have a calming effect and gave me peace.”

“A poem of faith, filled with hope and loving thoughts for others, with no suggestion of the present situation of the writer given away in even the slightest hint. For me, this heightened its impact even further. A very special prayer that could be shared in any Christmas message.”

“The poem ‘This Christmas’ is written with generosity and cheer, like a blessing or a prayer. I can easily imagine it being a message of encouragement in Christmas cards. Well done.”

Thank you to all the poets who shared today their words will linger in the memory for quite a while.

Having read though all of todays poems from our poets from both HMP Edinburgh and HMP Low Moss as well as having considered all of the judges comments it is almost a travesty that we had to score each of the poems at all because they were all fantastic and a credit to the writers themselves. That said we did score and when you consider the breadth of the panel it was an incredibly close run event.

Our winners are:

1st Place  SCR 7 – It’s Virtually Christmas

   In joint 2nd place :

SCR  6 – The Ghost of Covid Present       &       SRC 10 – Christmas Future 

Congratulations to our winners and a massive thank you to all of our authors who have selflessly provided a festive banquet of authenticity for us to absorb this week before Christmas.

Thank you for taking the time to visit the Hidden Voices blog today, we hope you found Sleigh Cells Ring as powerful, challenging and uplifting as we did ourselves. Apologies if your own particular favourite didn’t win todays competition but I’m sure you will agree there are no losers on display here today.

Thank you to everyone who has engaged with our #HiddenVoices throughout 2020 and to everyone reading today have a safe, wonderful and relaxing Christmas.

Feel free to join the online discussion via Twitter @FirstTimeInside and comment on your favourites or just the work in general.

You cannot copy content from this site.