Teen Poetry Collections

No Air At All

These sample poems were written by teenagers in King County Juvenile Detention in Seattle during the 2014-15 school year. The young people express themselves on a variety of themes, including abuse at home, gaining closure and remembering deceased loved ones, identity confusion, the oppressive experience of incarceration , witnessing violence, unconditional love, addiction, loneliness, and hope. The teens in detention are awaiting trial or serving sentences for a variety of offenses, from running away and truancy, to prostitution, shoplifting, drug-dealing, and violent crimes.

Pongo has worked inside detention since 1998. The team of Pongo adult mentors who worked with these youth included Emily Holt (project leader), Emily Caris, Lynn Zhao, Carol Thompson and Mark Johnson.

These teen poems are great. And they are just a few of the great poems created during this Pongo writing project! Please enjoy the honesty, depth, and complexity of this work. (And please note that details within the poems have been changed to protect the teens’ confidentiality and their families' privacy.)

Selected Poems from This Collection 

The Abusive Father
Being Mixed
Black Hole
The Story of a Cell
People Fall
Dear Dad
How It Feels To Be Trapped
Am I Me?
Memories of Danny Fresh
I'm Locked Up
Fighting With IF
Clarity, Happiness and Love
I'm a Diamond
For You
How I'm Feeling
The Missing Puzzle Piece

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