It’s not always easy to write letters (especially if you don’t know them personally). So here are some ideas. If you have some more, that aren’t listed, feel free to add.
Any funny or crazy things happened to you lately? Or someone told you something? Doesn’t matter if it seems trivial. Stories are Stories! Just keep in mind that the cops are reading, too.
- My housemate Alex found a lame pigeon and looks after it now. We called it Mike…
- Last week we skipped 10 kilos of candles and Caviar. It tastes like salty blackberry jam…
- I’m reading a book about a princess that really wants to marry a frog. Great book!…
Write about things that are happening in the world. Prisoners normally know the stuff from mainstream-medias. Still can’t hurt to puke your guts out on it. Otherwise it might be interesting to write about stuff you heard about or that’s written about on alternative media platforms. You could also write about stuff, that’s going on around you (for example: “Last week people squatted a new site.” Or “There was a demo against rat poison”. But pay attention to not to mention your or others involvement!)
Tell people inside about struggles against law and prisons outside or in other prisons (for example: “In Berlin and Bremen people put fire to court buildings lately” or “In a Prison in Bristol there was the first legal meeting of a prisoners union”), stuff like that gives hope and encourages people to get active and change something about their situation.
Lyrics, poems, riddles, origami folding instructions… everything that distracts from the gray monotonic everyday life can help!
Paint something or get crazy with glitter and glue. That can also help when you’re stuck on the writing. Maybe during that you’ll think about something else to write. (Lots of guards don’t let glued stuff through though)
Put photos, glitter, riddles, stickers, feathers, pressed flowers and leaves, dog’s hair, cuttings and pictures from papers and magazines, … into the envelope. (Again, if you want to get sure that the written stuff arrives try not to overdo it. On the other hand it is super nice for the prisoner if an overloaded envelope gets through the control)
If you don’t have so much to tell you could just write a postcard instead of a letter
There are also this paper games for groups. You could play them with others and send the results in:
- Someone is drawing a head on a piece of paper and folding it away. Next one is drawing a body, then legs, then feet…
- Someone is writing a sentence like “Uncle Alfred and a monkey are shopping”. Next one is drawing that and folds the sentence away. Next one interprets the drawing and writes it down, and so on…
Weep about your house-, relationship- and work dramas (ok, that isn’t really necessary if you don’t know the person inside but why not. It could be nice to write about it and it can be interesting to hear some gossip. At least I would love it…)
Write how much you hate the cops, the state, prisons and tell why it is so, just shouting phrases is as boring outside as it is inside.
If you hope for an answer, always put some stamps into the letter. In prisons you get even less money than outside. Don’t be sad if you don’t get an answer – people inside have other stuff to do as well and might not be in the mood to write back.
Especially with long time prisoners in can be important to write continually, to have discussions and to argue. Pay attention to the answers. Letters are of times the only Contact with people outside and then it is important to not just fill them with random bullshit. Ask the person for needs, folks inside don’t have many options that we take for granted outside (for example looking something up in the internet). Care about the connection to this person and if possible don’t just break the relation!