If my hand had fallen into yours earlier, I might still be holding you
I'll always remember what you told me:
In order to build a castle, learn how to build a house first.
~ from 'The Pieces', group poem by John Morony students
Unlocked is an innovative creative literacy program developed and run by Red Room Poetry in collaboration with poets and educational staff from NSW Correctional Centres. The program unlocks the potential of inmates through the reflective and healing power of poetry, encouraging self-expression that helps people write and share their stories to reconnect with their families and communities. Since 2010, Unlocked has worked with over 250 inmates. The intensive writing workshops cover every stage of the writing process, from the initial exercises and experimentations, through the editing and rewriting process, to recording, performing and publishing their work in meaningful ways.
“The Unlocked program...was inspiring for them learning how to put their feelings into words and song. Everything was from the heart - the words put into the poems came directly from the heart and it will be remembered for the rest of their lives.”
~Chris Walker, Bundjalung Elder and Balund-a mentor, 2016
Celebrating Red Room Poetry’s 20th Unlocked program, participants at Balund-a Diversionary Program (Tabulam) created poetry, music and art, guided by Murri poet Lionel Fogarty and musician Joe Geia. Poems and songs written during the week of workshops were translated and recorded in Bundjalung with the support of local language holders and Elders. It culminated with the local community visiting Balund-a to celebrate the poetic, musical and artistic achievements of the participants in a NAIDOC-inspired event.
"This creative education program works to enhance literacy and expression in its many forms. Through conversations with staff, facilitators and the participating residents in the weeks following, it has been noted that as a result of the Unlocked Poetry Project the residents engage with increased self-confidence, increased self-worth, improved communication skills and a revived passion towards the Arts as an outlet for dealing with emotion. We look forward to future visits … adding to the holistic approach to breaking the cycle of offending.” ~ Rachel Soliman, Operations Manager, Balund-a & Richard Heycock, General Manager, Balund-a
After each Unlocked program, student poems are collected into an anthology available for $20. All proceeds support future Unlocked programs.
Donations of $2 or more to The Red Room Company in Australia are tax deductible for Australian tax-payers.
Unlocked is possible through support from Create NSW, Australia Council for the Arts annd Geoff Ainsworth AM and Johanna Featherstone.
- Red Room Library
- John Morony 2010
- Dillwynia Correction Centre 2010
- Dawn de Loas Correctional Centre 2011
- Mannus Correctional Centre 2011
- Dillwynia Correction Centre 2012
- South Coast Correctional Centre 2012
- The Compulsory Drug Treatment Correctional Centre 2013
- John Morony 2013
- Oolong House 2014
- South Coast Correctional Centre 2014
- Mid North Coast Correctional Centre 2014
- Dillwynia Correction Centre 2014
- The Compulsory Drug Treatment Correctional Centre 2015
- John Morony 2015
- Silverwater Women's 2016
- Balund-a 2016 (NAIDOC Week)
- South Coast Correctional Centre 2016
- Balund-a 2017
CDTCC Poets, MNCCC Poets, SCCC Poets, Ali Cobby Eckermann, Dawn De Loas Poets, Johanna Featherstone, Lionel Fogarty, Joe Geia, Philip Hammial, Gareth Jenkins, Gayle Kennedy, Dillwynia Poets, John Morony Poets, Silverwater Poets, SOLO, MC Trey, Lindsay Tuggle, Rob Wilson
Visit our online store to purchase publications and materials from this project. The Red Room Company is a not-for-profit organisation. All funds raised support the ongoing work of The Red Room Company.