"The inside poet,
caged but free"

Daniel Holmes

My Words

I've spent a lifetime keeping journals and writing stories and poems. It was always a way to release daily pressures, try to understand myself and the world around me. I never really thought I’d show them to anyone. I never really thought it was more than just a way to express myself to myself.

I was always keenly interested in writing both prose and poetry, and while still at school aged 16 I had an article published in Sport Diver magazine and a ‘highly commended’ for the first Poetry Competition I entered - the W H Smiths International Open Amateur Poetry Competition. My poem, Clouds, was published in the W H Smith anthology called “From a Laugh to a Tear”.

Most of my time is spent alone in my cell at the Corradino Correctional Facility here in Malta. There are few courses or activities available and very little paid work, so to pass the time I became an avid reader. This, in turn, has fuelled my passion for writing and I now write every day, while trying to block out a background of noise, whistles, shouts and the intrusive sounds created by too many occupants caged together. I write a daily poem which my parents post on Instagram for me and I seem to have built up quite a following. I have found it a great way for me to communicate with like-minded people in the outside world and to get feedback on my writing.

I’ve had several poems published in the Prisoners Abroad newsletter and I was surprised and delighted in 2016 when I gained a ‘Highly Commended’ certificate in the International Welsh Poetry Competition for my poem “Simple Beauty” which is published in their most recent anthology called “Ten Years On”. 

I thought that entering competitions would give me a clue as to the merits of my work so I also entered work in the Koestler Awards 2016 and won a ‘First Time Entrant Award’ for both a single poem and for a short Poetry Collection. As well as this I have also received the Prisoners Abroad Silver Award for my entries.

The support I have received on Facebook and Instagram has been overwhelming and has inspired me to write a book about my life since the time of my arrest. I am happy to say that, despite the fact that I am still in prison, I have now finally finished this first book of poetry and prose. Due to the restrictions of being in prison without access to a computer or even a typewriter, it meant going through the laborious effort of sending out hand-written notes or dictating my words over the phone, to have them typed up by my parents and then sent back to me for editing. It has kept me focused and been a thoroughly enjoyable experience, only becoming gruelling and frustrating on a few occasions. I am now seeking a publisher.

This first book is a mix of short prose to introduce each chapter, followed by a collection of poems on the theme. Its working title is “From a Cage on a Rock in a Puddle” and it's composed of seven chapters with over 100 poems.

I believe my book shows the natural progression of my story; the progression of my time in prison, and the progression of myself through life. I hope it not only delivers a true account of my situation but also shows my feelings and thoughts. I think many readers with see something of themselves in my words.

While the prose deals with my personal situation I hope that the poetry is not just my voice but is a voice for all those in similar circumstances who cannot be heard.

 


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Daniel Holmes was arrested in Gozo in July 2006 for growing marijuana for personal use, then forced to stay in Malta for over 5 years awaiting trial. In November 2011 he was sentenced to 10 years in prison and fined €23,000. We need your help in raising awareness and getting Daniel home to his wife and little girls! Please visit the Free Daniel Holmes facebook page and his Go Fund Me page.