Teen Poetry Collections

Martha's Preface

Every Wednesday for six months my colleagues and I spent three hours writing with the youth in detention. Every week we moved through a metal detector and past two checkpoints. We exchanged our personal IDs for detention badges and descended into the lockdown world where these youth spend variable lengths of time, many of them returning again and again up until their 18th birthdays when they turn into adults.

Many aspects of this reality resonate in the writing in this book. At the very core of my experience, however, are the kids themselves: their fierce desire to tell their stories, the power of their voices even when their writing skills fail them, and the difficult history they bring with them into the juvenile justice system. When these youth share their personal stories, they contribute to our collective history as a community and as Americans.

My respect for the courage, strength, and vitality these young people possess, despite the gravity of their circumstances, is tremendous. The book’s title, How Tucked in the Corner Was Sadness, is a line from one author’s poem. Unlike the tumultuous rage and bravado explicit in much of the writing – protective traits that have served these youth and helped them survive on the outs – the sadness
is quietly and safely “tucked” away. We as mentors and readers have the privilege to listen and understand.


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