Tag Archives: Pongo Poetry Project

Pongo Poetry: My Heart is No Longer…


Pongo Poetry Project’s mission is to engage youth in poetry writing to inspire healing from trauma. 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.

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PONGO POETRY: Where I’m From


The Pongo Poetry Project’s mission is to engage youth in poetry writing to inspire healing from trauma. For over 20 years, Pongo has mentored poetry with youth at the Children and 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. 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.


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‘The Shadow Beside Me’: Seattle Nonprofit Debuts Poetry From King County Juvenile Detention

by Mark Van Streefkerk 


“You see that I am always getting in trouble

Trouble follows me

like a shadow right behind me, always

You see that I am always in fights

Always rebel fights, arguments

But you don’t know me. I’m not that type of person

I’m really caring, giving

Always trying to help people”

Those are the opening lines to “Josiah,” a poem by 16-year-old Damian, a youth incarcerated at Seattle’s Children and Family Justice Center (CFJC), formerly King County Juvenile Detention. “Josiah” appears in The Shadow Beside Me, a new anthology of poems from youth at CFJC, published by the Pongo Poetry Project. In the poem, Damian writes about how life changed when his friend Josiah was shot and killed. “Josiah was the only person we knew who had graduated / had a job, and had something going for him / When he left, it broke me.” 

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