Avril Joy


The poetry of prison
With authenticity, poignancy, and humour, Avril Joy gives voice to the lives of women prisoners contained behind walls and bars. Based on her experiences of twenty-five years working in HM Low Newton, County Durham, she explores in poetry and prose the daily going in through locked gates to meet darkness and pain as well as laughter and hope. The style is intense and breathtakingly original.

This collection is based on Avril Joy’s twenty-five years working as a teacher and senior manager in HM Low Newton,  County Durham. Women prisoners trusted her with their life stories which she transformed into prose and poetry which sings with originality and compassion.

Publication date: September 2019
Format: Paperback
Price; £6.99


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About this book

Before becoming a full-time writer, Avril Joy worked for twenty-five years in Low Newton women’s prison in County Durham. Her short fiction has appeared in literary magazines and anthologies, including Victoria Hislop’s, The Story: Love, Loss & the Lives of Women. Award listings include the Bridport, the Manchester Prize for Fiction, the Fish Short Memoir, and the Raymond Carver Prize. Millie and Bird won the inaugural Costa Short Story Award, 2012. Sometimes a River Song won the 2017 People’s Book Prize for
outstanding achievement. Her poetry has appeared in print and online. Skomm won the York Literary Festival poetry competition, 2019. Avril lives with her partner near Bishop Auckland, in County Durham and posts regularly at www.avriljoy.com.

Additional information

Book Type

E-Book, Paperback


-Poetry is a natural place to express the most intense feelings. But for it to work it has to be more than just expression; it has to be transformational…Avril’s poems have that quality. Skomm is an absolutely shattering poem and it’s not going to leave me.
– Clare Shaw

–Women in prison are neither seen nor heard, their stories seldom told and even more rarely understood. Avril Joy spent twenty five years teaching in prison and as well as teaching, she listened and tried to understand. She wanted to give the women she’d known a voice so they could be heard. In this selection of scene-setting prose and powerful poetry, she has succeeded brilliantly.
– Sharon Griffiths, Northern Echo, Eastern Daily Press.

– Avril’s work is unsparing but humane, a plea for understanding for those women on the margins of our society, who all too often end up in prison, doubly victimised. Buy this book, keep it by your bedside and read it over and over again .
– Caroline Beck – journalist and radio producer, – Ten Words From a Northern Landscape podcasts

– Listening to Avril Joy yesterday was a treat. She is simply captivating. She also made me cry. Not an easy task with my heart of stone…I’ve been thinking about Lisa since yesterday. Your words about her have left such an imprint on me.
– Phil Mews, Author of Orphan Boys.

–The highlight of Durham Book festival 2019 was Writing from Inside. Inspiring readings and stories of prison life from all three writers… I was close to tears at times at the beautiful poetry and emotionally charged stories from the writers involved – a special event.
– Natalie Crick, poet.

–A powerful and absolutely devastating read… The women have become so much more real for me – and I am humbled by the support you gave them both then; and now in this legacy of poetry. I feel that you do them proud – deserving as they surely are of more care, love and understanding than society deigns to give them.
– Lynne Evans