Pongo Poetry Project is a Seattle-based nonprofit that uses personal poetry to facilitate healing among youth coping with devastating traumas, such as abuse, neglect, racism and exposure to violence.
Pongo has mentored poetry with over 6,800 individuals. Research and evaluation demonstrate the significant therapeutic benefits of our programming and high levels of satisfaction among the youth we serve. And through our publishing program, we have released 16 poetry collections featuring work authored by the youth we serve.
Our trainings on the Pongo Method equip professionals with the knowledge and skills to create trauma-informed writing programs based on our approach. As a result, 96 therapeutic poetry programs based on our model and supporting people who have experienced trauma, have been established in locations including: Seattle, San Diego, New Orleans, San Salvador (El Salvador), Krakow (Poland), Cape Town (South Africa), and Shimane (Japan).
At the heart of our program is the Pongo Method, a trauma-informed technique for teaching poetry, created in consultation with prominent community psychiatrists from the University of Washington. Pongo’s approach offers youth a safe, gratifying way to express feelings about some of the worst experiences imaginable, including incest, rape, beatings, abandonment, and witnessing violent death. Our approach engages youth in writing poetry in service of finding healing and inspiring resilience.
Pongo’s methodology is a community-based intervention that doesn’t require a licensed therapist for successful outcomes. Our approach is effective, safe, fast, and replicable. Furthermore, our artistic focus is culturally appropriate for the youth we serve, whose trauma is often created and compounded by systemic racism and other forms of oppression. Pongo’s methodology is informed by the knowledge of how personal and racial trauma affects youth survivors. This makes our approach accessible, equitable, and able to provide healing for those furthest from treatment.
Pongo is committed to leading the charge on dismantling institutional oppression and systemic racism by providing guidance, resources, and recommendations that actively support a holistic approach to anti-racism, equity, and social justice within our organization, our outreach, and across the communities that we serve, by focusing on the following areas:
• Confronting racial injustice, inequality, and inequities;
• Providing meaningful anti-racist education; and
• Addressing bias in ourselves or wherever it may present itself.
Our values will cultivate an intentional, inclusive and equitable culture that permeates through every facet of our organization, allowing us to serve our communities in a culturally competent and respectful manner. Please read our Race, Equity, and Social Justice statement here.