Creative Mornings are an international organisation, recognised from London to Paris and New York. It is an educational and creative platform designed to be a bastion away for an hour from everyone's work place to meet and share with other creatives, to garner some knowledge or maybe hear a few different opinions.

It was with pride that I was invited to be a speaker at the event last month on the evening of the 27th. It was certainly a break with tradition The events as the name suggests are normally hosted in the morning, special permission was requested from and granted by head offices located in New York. 

With this permission came no small amount of nervousness if I'm honest, I have had a quite a bit of experience now with media interviews, poetry performances and the like, but live events are a different experience and it's never comfortable discussing such personal matters.

Creative mornings are also a popular event and the tickets soon sold out. The full audience added to my growing trepidation, but I have made a commitment to this path now. I do also believe my lived experiences can be useful aids for professionals and hopefully can reach some folk who are currently struggling with some of the difficulties I myself was.

The theme of the event was sanctuary. The sanctuary we can find in creativity and the sanctuary found for some in Sheffield, the Uk's first official city of sanctuary and particularly how i found my own sanctuary in the creative arts.

I opened the event with a recital of my poem "journey"and then began a thirty minute talk about my life and experiences growing up in extreme poverty, witnessing and experiencing abuse of various forms and the various other traumas and troubles I encountered along my way. From addiction, homelessness and psychosis, from prison, darkness, violence, to books and learning and writing.

The events organisers could not have been lovelier to me, the event was well planned and organised and it was admittedly packed when I arrived. These last few years the nerves have faded away but in this instance I was more nervous waiting to go on than probably anytime I'd ever spent in prison.

Emily Redfern and Lisa Maltby are two amongst many of our artists at Printed by Us and it was with a feeling of coming full circle from my release in 2017 that I realised I would be speaking on the same platform as these two talented ladies, both of whom had hosted their own events. If I was still psychotic I would have been worried by the next turn of events, but now it is just serendipitous and triggers feelings of hope.

I found out, twenty minutes before I went live in fact, that another lady had also hosted a creative morning event. She's a lady who runs a creative arts charity here in Rotherham where I live. A person who has made a massive impact on my life, I won't share her name but I want to tell you all this story as I think it encapsulated the entirety of my experiences with creative mornings. 

This person is someone whom I myself committed a crime against, I was at the height of my addiction and psychosis, this person at the time possessed a business that I broke into, I'm ashamed to say I stole many things and caused such physical damage to the property and no doubt to hers and her families mental health.

In prison I took part in restorative justice, I got to meet with and in other cases exchange letters with some of the victims of my crimes. Hers was one such letter. I made initial contact through the RJ facilitators with the first letter. I told her about my life and was honest about my crimes against her and her property. She surprised me with a reply, it was full of praise for not only my writing but for me!! She told me I should do something with my writing upon release and to not beat myself up over it either, she forgave me instantly. This lady hosted the same event I was now about to and I really wish she knew this fact.

I had come full circle, my nerves diminished as this fact settled and then faded completely as I knew, this was what I'm meant to be doing, this is my purpose now and no-one can do it better than I. I then had an intimate chat with the audience about my life and some of the worst things I've ever done, and how I turned it about.

How The Archer Project helped me find my purpose and helped me find myself. How Printed by Us helped give me confidence and skills and the ability to work within a team, and hopefully demonstrate the indomitable spirit of the human being. That one would not throw in the towel no matter how bad things got ,and the sometimes negative consequences of surviving. Also hopefully demonstrating that now matter how dark the night may seem, it's always truly darkest before the dawn.


- Chris (@wordsfromtheshed)