Pongo Project Journal

Sharing stories of our work with teens
Feb 11
Dreaming Big This Black History Month

Dreaming Big This Black History Month


Langston Hughes's poem "The Dream Keeper" , got the Pongo team thinking about the big dreams and hopes of Black youth poets now and through the ages. Inspired, Poetry Mentors at CFJC (King County Juvenile Detention), led a group exercise using 2 refrains from this poem (Bring me all your...So I can...) to structure a co-created poem:


THINGS WE CAN TAKE

by CFJC Youth Residents & Adult Poetry Mentors

Bring me all your happiness, anger and tears
Bring me your emotions—your tattered
rain-soaked worries, your cold, cramping fears
Bring me all your joy, pain, and wisdom
Bring me your hates—your skin crawling
chalkboard-scratching dislikes
Bring me your broken dreams

So that I can understand your life
and I will relate on your faults
So you are not alone in your world of hatred and greed
So that I can understand your pain
and understand the weight of who you are
I will hold your emotions—not as who you are,
not even as the many-facetted diamond of who you are,
but I will hold them as feathers—light leavings
of flight that I blow away
with a kiss
goodbye


A special thank you to Tamara Keefe at Seattle Parks Department for sparking this idea through her column in the Parks' February Newsletter, 2021.

Feb 01
"Stepping Up to Be a Queen"

"Stepping Up to Be a Queen"

In honor of Black History month, 2021, Pongo would like to share a poem by one of our authors. Like so many of the poems written by Pongo youth poets and like Black History itself--especially in the U.S., this poem is filled with resilience in the face of severe abuse. Read this author's realtime process of putting themselves back together--a process that for this poet is reminiscent of Audre Lorde's quote, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”

BROKEN INTO PIECES
by an African American student writing with Pongo

I was hurt

I don’t know what to do
I can feel it in my soul
God, I can feel it through you
There’s this battle
that I’m fighting
This is exactly why I’m writing

I was misunderstood
I was misused
I was hurt
I was abused
I was beaten till I was black and blue
Nobody ever understood
what I was going through

I feel that’s all I really cared about
Was just not being someone’s toy
Not being someone that could always be hurt
Not knowing who I am

is what affects me now

I gotta step up to be a queen
and put on my crown
It’s a thorn crown
That’s why God died on the cross
because he knew that people in his nation
would be lost


I don’t know what to say
At times, I don’t know what to feel

I love writing
I love being myself
I love being a queen
and it’s not all about wealth
You don’t have to have money to care
You have to have a heart to be who you are
This is why I’ve gotten so far
This is why I’m cared for
and that is where this ends
    

Dedicated to my brothers