• Writing

Postcards to Myself, Haringey Probation, Platinum Award for Anthology, 2015


Visitors reading written entries at our exhibition RE:FORM, 2015

Poetry and prose have a long tradition in secure establishments and the criminal justice system. Requiring only pen and paper, we receive thousands of written entries each year. Poetry is the most popular type of submission – with over 1,000 poems submitted annually across the poem, anthology, poetry collection and themed categories.

Other written categories in the Koestler Awards include: flash fiction and short story, longer fiction and novel, non-fiction, blog, essay, article and review, life story, braille, poem, poetry collection, anthology, stage play, radio play, screenplay and song writing.

Koestler Arts continues in partnership with Synergy Theatre Project to deliver the Stage Play category. Synergy are offering playwriting workshops to support entries. If you are interested in Synergy coming to your prison then contact neil@synergytheatreproject.co.uk. All Stage Play entries will be read and judged by a team of theatre professionals and ex-prisoners and every entry will receive written feedback. Find out more about our 2020 Stage Play Awards.

We look for innovative ways to present writing to the public, within exhibitions, books, events and posters.

Our poetry anthologies, Koestler Voices: New Poetry from Prisons Vol. 1 and 2, present some of the best poetry from the Koestler Awards. Volume 1, which features entries from 2016 and 2017, includes a foreword by poet Benjamin Zephaniah. Volume 2 presents works from the 2018 and 2019 Koestler Awards alongside a foreword by George The Poet.

To read a selection of written work from the Koestler Awards, with writing tips and ideas to inspire you to pick up a pencil yourself, click here to download our booklet Voices from Prison.

Scroll down and click on the titles to read some previous Koestler Award-winning pieces of writing.