Tag Archives: Poetry

PONGO POETRY: All True Story, No Lies

Pongo Poetry Project’s mission is to engage youth in writing poetry to inspire healing and growth. For over 20 years, Pongo has mentored poetry with youth at the Children & Family Justice Center (CFJC), King County’s juvenile detention facility. Many CFJC residents are youth of color who have endured traumatic experiences in the form of abuse, neglect, and exposure to violence. These incidents have been caused and exacerbated by community disinvestment, systemic racism, and other forms of institutional oppression. In collaboration with CFJC staff, Pongo poetry writing offers CFJC youth a vehicle for self-discovery and creative expression that inspires recovery and healing. Through this special monthly column in partnership with the South Seattle Emerald, Pongo invites readers to bear witness to the pain, resilience, and creative capacity of youth whose voices and perspectives are too often relegated to the periphery. For an opportunity to learn Pongo’s trauma-informed techniques for facilitating personal, healing poetry in your classroom, therapeutic practice, or community space, join their training on May 22.


ALL TRUE STORY, NO LIES

by a young person, age 16

Group homes and detention had me institutionalized 
so my behaviors are the reasons of me being traumatized 
The way I act towards people 
and 
the way I take situations 
The way I believe a lot of stuff is lies 
It’s hard to trust 
in my relationships with people
Me not having trust and not wanting to get hurt
has me break trust first
so I don’t get hurt first 
Ends up making the situation worse

Continue reading PONGO POETRY: All True Story, No Lies

State’s First Indigenous Poet Laureate Aims to Spread Awareness Through Poetry

Support the Emerald with me! I’m the publisher’s mother and an Emerald founding board member. I’ve lived in Seattle all my life. Over most of those 76 years, the brilliance, diversity, and beauty of our community lacked a constant spotlight. That was until the Emerald came along. I’ve seen my son and the Emerald team sacrifice sleep, health care, self-care, and better salaries elsewhere to keep the Emerald shining a light on our community. I’d never ask anyone to make that kind of sacrifice, but I do ask to do what you can today to support the Emerald during our fund drive. Help us celebrate authentic community stories during the Emerald’s 7th Anniversary campaign April 26–May 5. Donate here. 

—Cynthia “Mama” Green

by Chamidae Ford


On April 15, Rena Priest was appointed Washington State’s first Indigenous Poet Laureate. A joint program with Humanities Washington and the Washington State Arts Commission, the position is dedicated to connecting people and communities through the art of poetry while celebrating the importance poetry has had to our state’s culture. 

Priest, a member of the Lhaq’temish (Lummi) Nation, is an experienced poet, having published two collections of poetry, won the Vadon Foundation Fellowship, and received an Allied Arts Foundation Professional Poets Award in 2020. For Priest, poetry has always been a part of her life, but she didn’t fully dedicate herself to it until later, initially planning to major in theater.

“I’ve loved poetry my whole life, but I think it didn’t really start to play a big part in my life until I was in undergrad,” Priest said. “Once I started off in the English department, then writing altogether, it just kind of became it for me.” 

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POETRY: Fat Plaits and Ashy Knees

by Kathya Alexander


My Mama say when she a girl and she go to school, 
way back when, sometime back in a whole ‘nother century, 
that only the white children get to ride on the bus.  
Colored children have to walk.  And the white kids pass by and chunk mud rocks at them.  
She say the school that she go to is bout 10 miles each way.  
But every time she tell the story, the school get further and further.  
I done heard this story for so much of my life, 
I could tell it by heart.  I am dusting the floorboards 
in the living room.  And oiling our beautiful old wooden upright piano.  
These the two things that I have to do every Saturday  
along with wringing the clothes from out our new wringer washer 
and hanging them out on the clothesline in the backyard.  
Mama sitting on the couch sewing my new dress for school.  
The television is on filled with black and white images 
of little colored children trying to desegregate schools.

Continue reading POETRY: Fat Plaits and Ashy Knees

PONGO POETRY: Strength and Hope

Pongo Poetry Project’s mission is to engage youth in writing poetry to inspire healing and growth. For over 20 years, Pongo has mentored poetry with children at the Child Study Treatment Center (CSTC), the only state-run psychiatric hospital for youth in Washington State. Many CSTC youth are coping with severe emotional, behavioral, and mental health challenges. Approximately 40% of youth arrive at CSTC having been court ordered to get treatment; however, by the end of their stay, most youth residents become voluntary participants. Pongo believes there is power in creative expression, and articulating one’s pain to an empathetic audience. Through this special monthly column in partnership with the South Seattle Emerald, Pongo invites readers to bear witness to the pain, resilience, and creative capacity of youth whose voices and perspectives are too often relegated to the periphery. For an opportunity to learn Pongo’s trauma-informed techniques for facilitating personal, healing poetry in your classroom, therapeutic practice, or community space, join their training on May 22nd.


STRENGTH AND HOPE

by a young person, age 12

Strength is something you
get by being brave,
willing to put your life
in the eternal grave.

Risking everything to save 
the one thing you want most,
going back and forth 
coast to coast.

Continue reading PONGO POETRY: Strength and Hope

PONGO POETRY: I Hope

Pongo Poetry Project’s mission is to engage youth in writing poetry to inspire healing and growth. For over 20 years, Pongo has mentored poetry with youth at the Children & Family Justice Center (CFJC), King County’s juvenile detention facility. Many CFJC residents are youth of color who have endured traumatic experiences in the form of abuse, neglect, and exposure to violence. These incidents have been caused and exacerbated by community disinvestment, systemic racism, and other forms of institutional oppression. In collaboration with CFJC staff, Pongo poetry writing offers CFJC youth a vehicle for self-discovery and creative expression that inspires recovery and healing. Through this special monthly column in partnership with the South Seattle Emerald, Pongo invites readers to bear witness to the pain, resilience, and creative capacity of youth whose voices and perspectives are too often relegated to the periphery. For an opportunity to learn Pongo’s trauma-informed techniques for facilitating personal, healing poetry in your classroom, therapeutic practice, or community space, join their training on May 22.


Continue reading PONGO POETRY: I Hope

PONGO POETRY: I Still Speak

Pongo Poetry Project’s mission is to engage youth in writing poetry to inspire healing and growth. For over 20 years, Pongo has mentored poetry with children at the Child Study Treatment Center (CSTC), the only state-run psychiatric hospital for youth in Washington State. Many CSTC youth are coping with severe emotional, behavioral, and mental health challenges. Approximately 40% of youth arrive at CSTC having been court ordered to get treatment; however, by the end of their stay, most youth residents become voluntary participants. Pongo believes there is power in creative expression, and articulating one’s pain to an empathetic audience. Through this special monthly column in partnership with the South Seattle Emerald, Pongo invites readers to bear witness to the pain, resilience, and creative capacity of youth whose voices and perspectives are too often relegated to the periphery. For an opportunity to learn Pongo’s trauma-informed techniques for facilitating personal, healing poetry in your classroom, therapeutic practice, or community space, join their training on May 22nd.

Continue reading PONGO POETRY: I Still Speak

POETRY: Use Your Words (or Unsolicited Advice to 2nd and 3rd Gen Asian Americans)

by Jen Soriano


After: Jeanann Verlee’s “unsolicited advice to adolescent girls with crooked teeth and pink hair.”

When they ask how you speak English so well, don’t feel proud.
When they tell you to go eat bat, tell them to go eat baby cow.
When they ask if you work at the Chinese restaurant down the street, ask if you can take their order — and their money.
When they harass you, push you, spit at you and blame you for COVID-19, raise your voice: 
Say no to racism and xenophobia, and demand a world without scapegoats and hate

Continue reading POETRY: Use Your Words (or Unsolicited Advice to 2nd and 3rd Gen Asian Americans)