Angela Franklin

When did you first learn about Pongo Poetry Project?

In June 2020, I signed up on a whim to participate in a HOPE series session hosted by the UCLArts & Healing program, where I was introduced to Pongo’s methodology. I typically explore ways to stay engaged and connected to the writing community. Since I was returning to Antioch University Los Angeles, to complete an MFA, I thought my participation in the Pongo session would keep me pushing my creative pen.

During the workshop session, I coaxed a poem out of Jacinta, my class “partner” who, at 11 years old, had actually experienced a revolution in her country. She hadn’t thought of the incident in many years. The piece she wrote was about fear, courage, and her eyewitness account of what she saw and felt. The final product, her poem, amazed both of us. Shaun McMichael, deemed the poem good enough for publishing. I was impressed with the raw honesty Jacinta expressed during our simple virtual exercises. Who knew what could unfold in such a short time. Shaun kept extolling the virtues of the work and the good job we’d done. The process was so natural and the results so raw, I was and still am quite impressed.

Soon after, he contacted me and reiterated the fine job we’d done and asked if I would I be interested in participating in the Pongo poetry program. I didn’t hesitate. The only thing holding me back was I was in the process of completing an MFA, but felt the invitation was one I couldn’t refuse. I know the power of poetry and how it helped me pole vault over some of my own personal challenges.

What do you do/did you do professionally? What's your educational background?

I’m a retired management/budget analyst, personal analyst, and former public relations manager.

What drew you to Pongo's work?

I firmly believe that all that I am I owe back to my community. I’m standing on the shoulders of others’ greatness. I have a responsibility to nurture and encourage others in the arts, which I love participating in and teaching about. Utilizing the arts can foster communication, and initiate healing and understanding, when other methods fail.

What do you find most challenging about Pongo's work?

Hearing the pain and suffering of children spilling on the page. It’s as if they slice open their veins and bleed the ink of their sorrow.

What has been a highlight of your work with Pongo thus far?

Most recently, one of my students had a tremendous breakthrough when he inoculated himself with a dose of his own truth serum. During our session, he wrote three poems.

What keeps you coming back each week?

Knowing that I will learn more about human nature. Knowing that I’m making a small difference. Another reason I return each week is for the opportunity to serve and bless others, as well as prepare for an eventual opportunity to implement a Pongo-like model in Los Angeles or volunteer in a similar program.

Facilitating and guiding students through writing exercises aids in their self-expression as well as providing a release of anger or other emotions.