Teen Poetry Collections

[Preface]

by RICHARD GOLD and TED RYNEARSON

"I Lost My Sense of Protection" was written in sad and serious circumstances - by incarcerated teens who are in grief therapy. The teens are at Echo Glen Children's Center, a Washington State juvenile rehabilitation facility that emphasizes its mental health program.

The grief therapy groups were run by psychiatrist Ted Rynearson and psychologist Jenny Favell, with funding from the Soros Foundation. Dr. Rynearson has been working in the field of traumatic grief for 30 years, and Dr. Favell has been his colleague for 3 years. There were four therapy groups in this program at Echo Glen, and each group met for ten weekly sessions. The first half of each session consisted of talk therapy and occasional drawing, led by Drs. Rynearson and Favell. The second half of each session consisted of a coordinated writing program, led by Richard Gold.

Richard Gold has been working for 11 years with teens who are homeless, in jail, undergoing psychiatric treatment, or in other ways leading difficult lives. The Pongo Publishing Teen Writing Project is his volunteer, not-for-profit program that helps teens to write about their lives and feelings, with the goal of publication. This is the sixth book of teen writing by the Pongo project.

The teens who participated in the grief groups at Echo Glen have all suffered the traumatic loss of a loved one, usually from sudden, unexpected causes such as murder, suicide, or accident. And the loss has had lingering effects. Some of the teens explain that these sudden deaths have changed their lives and left them depressed, angry, preoccupied with awful memories and persistent dreams, dependent on drugs and alcohol, and uncaring about their own lives. For many, such tragedies are only individual instances in a lifelong series of losses that may include abandonment, neglect, and physical and sexual abuse.

But along with the pain and sadness that are part of the therapy work and that permeate the writing here, there are also strong, positive outcomes for the teens, resulting from their strength and their dedication to the treatment process. As a necessary part of healing, the teens bravely allowed themselves to recall, often for the first time, both warm memories of the people they lost and horrible images of death. In this healing effort the teens experienced relief and change.

And in this healing effort the teens were teachers as well as participants. The group leaders would like to thank the teens for sharing their lives. We send them our very best wishes. And we would also like to thank the people at Echo Glen: Patti Berntsen, Associate Superintendent; Vicki Belluomini, Mental Health Treatment Coordinator; and group co-facilitators including Shannon, Mark, Vicki, Greg, LeeAnn, Michael, Kathy, and Leann. Finally, we thank the Soros Foundation for subsidizing this project.