Unlock the talent inside

Since 1962 the Koestler Awards have played a unique, national role in motivating prisoners, secure hospital patients and immigration detainees to take part in the arts. The awards are simple and powerful – we reward achievement, build self-confidence and broaden horizons for some of society’s most disadvantaged and marginalised people.

Our work harnesses the uniquely transformative power of the arts to help individuals learn the skills and gain the confidence to live creative, positive and productive lives. Each year we receive more than 7,000 entries from over 3,500 entrants across the UK in 52 categories. More than 2,000 Awards are granted by over 100 esteemed judges, and each year culminates in a curated exhibition at Southbank Centre which showcases the incredible power of the arts to transform lives.

  • Koestler Voices

Knowledge Through the Window of Glass, HM Prison Dovegate, Pat and Bill Gordon First-Time Entrant Award for Themed Category: Window, 2020

Koestler Voices

Thank you for helping make our third anthology of poetry from prisons a reality

This year, thanks to your support, we are very excited to be launching our third volume of Koestler Voices: New Poetry from Prisons.

An enormous thank you to everyone who joined our crowdfunder and helped make the anthology a reality.

We are delighted to have exceeded our £5,000 target, with every donation helping to get more copies of the publication into secure settings across the country.

Edited by Martha Sprackland, Koestler Voices Vol. 3 will collect poems from the 2020 and 2021 Koestler Awards, showcasing just some of the inspiring poetry written by people in custody living through lockdown. This year’s publication will feature a foreword by Jackie Kay, award-winning author of—among other books—The Adoption Papers, Red Dust Road, Trumpet, and Fiere and former Scots Makar, the National Poet for Scotland.

After more than a year in isolation, poetry has been a lifeline for people in prisons, and many of our entrants have written about the power of writing in prisons. Thank you for helping to build more connections between people in the criminal justice system and readers on the outside.

Although our crowdfunder campaign is now over, you can still show your support for writers in prison by joining our growing family of supporters below.

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Koestler Voices Vol. 3 Crowdfunder

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Koestler Voices: New Poetry from Prisons Volumes 1 and 2