Teen Poetry Collections

The Most Real I Feel


COVID-19 hit during the last quarter of Pongo's 2019-2020 residency at Child Study and Treatment Center (CSTC). Through the ingenuity and resilience of CSTC students, staff, and administrators, Pongo finished the year strong, rounding out the year's collection with some powerful poems.

You can't get any realer than the real in these poems! Writing on topics like physical and sexual assault, addiction, abandonment, and anxiety, these youth showed their courage packing some of the most complicated feelings a young person can feel into a poem dictated to Pongo Poetry Mentors (near strangers) over Zoom. In these poems, youth feel even more bereft than normal of family and friends, due to understandable, but unfortunate restrictions on passes, outings, and visits because of the quarantine. Yet through the Pongo process, they find motivators in special places, family, and their hopes and dreams.

Let this online collection be a testament to youth courage, strength, and resolve. We know you'll enjoy it, though it is only a small sample of the nearly 200 amazing poems youth wrote this year with Pongo Mentors at CSTC.

CSTC is a state-run residential psychiatric hospital for children in Washington State. Pongo Poetry Project partners closely with CSTC staff and teachers at the center's school program through Clover Park School District. It's through this collaboration that the poetry magic happens.

Pongo thanks the '19-'20 team of adult mentors (Alex Leviton; Rebecca Maison-Diop, and Heather Timken), Pongo Project Lead Ann Teplick, and Pongo's CSTC Staff Lead, Erin Carpenter, who was Pongo's hands and feet when we pivotted to online sessions, and Dr. Mick Storck and Principal Carolyn Watkins who helped advocate and coordinate.

Also, thank you to the 24 CSTC students who read poems at our 2020 Pongo Finale online and to the over 30 staff members, teachers, and administrators who attended. It celebrated 20 years of Pongo at CSTC in an unforgettably creative way.

Now, get ready for the most real...

Where are the Stars

An Unwanted Friend

Tick, Tick, Tick

On My YouTube Channel

Emotional Rollercoaster

When Someone Deeply Listens to Me

Keep Fighting for What's Right for You

A Thanksgiving Carol

The Power of Family

My Motivation

I Promise, I'm Sorry