Prison poems: inmates share with students

  • Breaking down walls: Shawnette Somner, left, education officer at Westgate, embraces Sharon Virgil of the Bermuda College’s literary analysis class (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

    Breaking down walls: Shawnette Somner, left, education officer at Westgate, embraces Sharon Virgil of the Bermuda College’s literary analysis class (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)


A writing partnership between Bermuda College students and prisoners at Westgate yesterday unveiled its work.

Shawnette Somner, an education officer at the prison was stunned at the display at the college’s library.

Ms Somner said: “I’m speechless — this is amazing, I didn’t know it was going to be this elaborate.”

Ms Somner was contacted last autumn by Sharon Virgil, a senior English lecturer at the college, to link students with “a few inmates” from her class.

The pilot programme, named Connecting Sentences, allowed authors behind bars to share their work with students, who gave feedback on the writing.

Much of the work created was poetry, with the help of the Bermuda College Literary Society and is now on show in the library foyer.

Ms Somner said: “Everything was anonymous. It was amazing for students and inmates to be able to read into each other’s writing and pick up on some things about the other person.

“It was a very successful venture, something we will continue, and something that’s going to be ever-evolving.”

Dr Virgil said the aim had been to “create a public space for inside voices”. She added: “This is the first, with more to come.”

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Published Apr 6, 2018 at 8:00 am (Updated Apr 5, 2018 at 10:13 pm)

Prison poems: inmates share with students

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