The Radical Kindness of Forgiveness | Free Word

My collaboration with The Forgiveness Projects as part of the ‘How to be Kind’ season was one of the most enriching experiences I’ve had for ages. I learnt so much about how to use the concept of forgiveness as a tool for self enquiry, conversation and ultimately, kindness. I’ve always seen writing as a kindness to the self, a way to understand and discover, as well as a kindness to the world: an invitation for empathy. Combining creative writing with conversations around forgiveness seemed a perfect fit. It was a pleasure to read through the wonderful words that our generous participants have sent in. The little fragments of their lives were a privilege to glimpse. I hope they will continue writing in their spare time, and enjoy all the benefits of a creative practice. 

Cecilia Knapp, Young People’s Laureate for London, The Radical Kindness of Forgiveness facilitator. 

Cecilia lightly edited all submissions for punctuation and formatting, and selected two of the poems produced from the workshop to highlight. With thanks to Rebecca HarringtonDominique JethwaSusanna RolandHayley FrancesMarian De VriesSarah Davey and Anon. for sharing their work.


The Leaves Outside Are



Cut off from the sap that fed them.

Glowing with bronzed sugar in a final blaze of glory, 

glorious gold, red, orange flutter, spin, drift to the damp earth.


They were tight buds,

round hazel,

sharp beech,

fat sticky chestnut.

I watched their bright unfurling,

in the quiet time of birdsong, those clear blue skies.

Through heatwaves their green was my shade.


Now their tree 

hunkers down as chill creeps in,

storm rips limbs bare.


making ready

for the next life.


— Rebecca Harrington



I Don’t Know When


the rumbles and trembles started coursing,

sap through my veins,

when the russet blood-rust leaves took on 

a yellow hue.


But when the time came

it came.

An onslaught.

An axe cleaved down through the trunk.


Half fell away.

The years of retreat, retirement –

reduced now to a rotted heap of ash and fading embers.


But the other half sprang up.


In the breath of a week,

leaf clouds, foliage, new branches.

The boughs alive with chirruping, squirrelling, rummaging,

rebel flowers of different colours and shapes –

no care they were supposed to be growing from the same tree.


My birds sing happy songs now,

of me.


But still, sometimes

I think of sending 

my birds in your pursuit.


— Anon.


The full compilation of The Radical Kindness of Forgiveness poetry submissions can be found here.


Anne-Marie Cockburn shares her response to the prompt ‘Precious to me..’ at the workshop: 



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Cecilia Knapp

The Forgiveness Project

Anne-Marie Cockburn


Find out more about The Forgiveness Project’s work here:



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