Teen Poetry Collections

Nobody Knows My Name

These are just a handful of the memorable poems written by teenagers in King County Juvenile Detention in Seattle during the 2017-18 school year. Youth write about their losses: of loved ones who have died violent deaths, of homes they have become disconnected from, of their younger selves. These survivors of loss are left with haunting memories, a sense of isolation, and emotions that gather into stanzas, sound, and strength. "If they would just listen," one writer laments. Well, here's our chance...

Pongo has worked inside detention since 1998. 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. Many of them deal with depression from the memory of abuse, anxiety over what’s coming, and concern for loved ones living without them on the outside. Please enjoy the honesty, depth, and complexity of their work.

Helping youth produce poems during the 2017-18 school year, was a team of Pongo adult mentors which included Arlene Naganawa, Raúl Sanchez, Sara Jones, Kiana Davis, and Amani Carithers (Project Leader).

The Pongo Teen Writing Project is grateful to its many kind supporters, including the City of Seattle, Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs, which has generously provided Youth Arts grants to Pongo’s project at King County juvenile detention since 2007.

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Note* Details within the poems have been changed to protect the teens’ confidentiality and their families' privacy.


Selected Poems from this Year's Collection:

The Fear of Love

Killing Me Inside


My Roots

Black is Beauty