Trigger warning: references to death

This poem was written and recorded by Red*, a member of the Freed Voices. The Freed Voices are a group of experts-by-experience, people with lived experience of immigration detention who are committed to speaking out about the realities of immigration detention in the UK. Between them, they have lost over 20 years to detention.

Here, Red tells us about the context of writing ‘When I become untamed’.

I was in immigration detention for 10 months. I thought that I would be there for a short period of time until things were clarified. I thought I was there due to a misunderstanding. I have always been naive, and this time was no exception. 

I wrote this poem while I was detained in Colnbrook IRC, near Heathrow airport. I was held in Colnbrook the whole time I was detained, until I was released earlier this year.

Writing a poem was a way to exorcise the demons that grow inside you while you are in detention: feeling hopeless, helpless and oppressed; feeling like there’s nowhere to go and there’s nothing you can do to overcome the situation. In detention, there’s only uncertainty and you have to fight to stay alive and keep your mind sane. All the frustration and negativity that grows inside you can take control of your thoughts and your life. I was trying to defend myself from all these things when I wrote this poem. It is inspired by the impossibility of communicating with members of my family while I was in detention.

*Red is not his real name but has been chosen to protect his identity.

Image by @Carcazan