Pongo Project Journal

Sharing stories of our work with teens
Apr 03
A Prize Poem

Writing poetry can be an unexpected good. And for people in distress, isn’t it wonderful that the world contains unexpected good. When Pongo had its finale at the psych hospital on March 22, the teens were happy and excited to read their work, which was often about loss, anger, and self-destructive feelings. Yet poetry made the young people feel better.

People who have suffered the deepest losses may suffer a cascading series of tragedies, from abuse and neglect in childhood to rape, drug addiction, illness, being a survivor of a violent death. People in distress can also make poor choices that add to their losses.

But what difference does writing poetry make after life-altering tragedy? What is this unexpected good?

There are several features of the good. One feature is that poetry writing objectifies experience. There is a transformative moment in which people can see that something terrible has happened to them – but with more clarity and without an obliterating sense of shame. A second feature of this good is that writing is a communal and affecting experience. There is a transformative moment in which people recognize that their vulnerability is shared. In this second transformation, listeners participate as well as writers.

These thoughts provide the context for announcing Pongo’s first winner of the Pongo Poetry Prize. It is a poem about sex addiction. I value the author’s writing and her openness on a very personal but very human topic. This poem was written on the Pongo web site using the activity Addicted.

Addicted
by a young woman, age 16 

I am addicted.
I am addicted to Sex.
In my addiction, my life is filled with only thinking about sex.
In my addiction, I am glad to feel loved and needed.

I am addicted.
I am addicted to Sex.
In my addiction, I hate to think about that they don’t really love me.
In my addiction, the real me becomes hidden and ignored.

I am addicted.
I am addicted to Sex.
In my addiction, betrayals of myself come in the form of moaning and scratches.
In my addiction, I struggle to feel real.

I am addicted.
I am addicted to Sex.
In my addition, I am hiding my true needing of LOVE.
In my addiction, I’m in a constant battle with myself.

I am addicted.


The Pongo Poetry Prize is presented quarterly to a poem submitted on our web site by a young person. There is a $50 award. Please encourage young authors to submit their creative work! You may click on the following links to read this quarter’s Honorable Mention poems, as well.

The Sick Boy
Emotions Lost in a Musician's Fingertips
Thanks to Mom (Stings Like an Eel)