Pongo Project Journal

Sharing stories of our work with teens
Oct 30
Watching Her and Her

With today’s journal, I’d like to announce the latest winner of the Pongo Poetry Prize. In “Watching Her” you’ll hear the voice of a strong young woman. It makes me think about the resilience that we see all the time through our Pongo work.

The experiences of abused and neglected youth are terrible when you read about them in the teens’ Pongo poetry, but I always encourage readers to think beyond the sad content - to celebrate the resilience it takes to write and heal. Writing exposes a wound to light and air. After they write, the Pongo teens are proud, feel capable, and gain control in their lives. Instead of being merely reactive to pain, a person who writes can integrate that painful experience into a multi-faceted and cognizant personality. There is still sadness, and sometimes struggle, but a person’s losses can be mourned and a future envisioned.

And complementing the role of writing itself is the ability to be heard, which breaks down the walls of isolation. At Pongo we sit with our authors and listen to their stories as an important part of what we do. An awful reality of abuse and neglect is that the hurt often contains terror, blame, coercion, control, guilt, and helplessness. Abuse and neglect are a pointed injury to a person’s soul. And abuse and neglect throw their victims into terrible isolation. Yet we can help people to heal when we’re strong enough to listen to their stories and to accompany them out of their solitude.

So please read “Watching Her” and watch the author, too. Celebrate the latest winner of the Pongo Poetry Prize. Following the winning poem, there are links to three great poems that received Honorable Mention. Cheers!

Watching Her
by a young woman, age 16 

i've watched my mother all of my life

i watched her let my father beat her till her skull broke open and bled across the hardwood floor

i watched her recover from that incident, return to my father, and become pregnant with yet another child whom she'd always ignore

i watched her struggle in chaos and self punishment while she filled her 135lb body with vodka, beer, and rum

i watched her get so angry at my older sister that she'd beat her till her fragile 98lb body was forced to become numb

i watched my mother live the life of an addict, an abuser, and a manipulator

i watched her try and hide these things that she'd always reveal until the day i walked down the street and watched her do something she couldn't conceal

i watched my mother do these things till the day she had successfully pushed everything, including her children, out of her life

i watched her unconsciously toss and turn in a dirty sleeping bag on the rainy seattle sidewalk of lake city way

yes, i watched my mother all of my life
but sixteen years into watching i choose to no longer watch her strife

Honorable Mention, October 2010
My Best Friend Is in Love