Teen Poetry Collections

Richard’s Preface

My Passion Leaps Out Toward the World is a collection of writing by teens in juvenile detention in Seattle, Washington. These young people are awaiting trial or serving sentences for a variety of offenses, from running away and truancy to prostitution, shoplifting, drug dealing, and violent crimes.

To produce the poems in this book, a few volunteers from the Pongo Publishing Teen Writing Project helped the detention teens write about their lives during a six-month project in 2004-2005. The sad truth of Pongo’s work is that, consistently, our distressed authors use the writing opportunity to talk about childhood traumas, such as, abuse, neglect, abandonment, or family death. On the other hand, in their poetry we also discover the young people’s strengths, sensitivity, hope, and resilience.

Those of us who were part of the Pongo Project would like to thank the detention teens for sharing their important truths, and we send the youth our best wishes. We’d also like to thank the detention staff, teachers, and librarians who made this project possible.

In addition, I would like to thank my colleagues, the “Pongoites” Ann, Dana, Kiana, Leslie, Martha, and Paul, who went through the Pongo training and who facilitated the majority of the 200 poems we collected in this project. And a special thanks to Ann who also served as this book’s editor.