Register for the Autumn 2023 Edition of Ignite Pongo!

Register for the Autumn 2023 Edition of Ignite Pongo!

Tickets & Registration

Date: Saturday, November 4th
Time: 10am – 3:30pm PST (Virtual)

Attend this training from Pongo Poetry Project to cultivate your skills in trauma-informed poetry mentorship with youth!

Pongo Overview

Pongo Poetry Project is a Seattle-based nonprofit that uses personal poetry to facilitate healing among youth coping with devastating traumas. Our mission is to engage youth in writing poetry to inspire healing and growth.

At the heart of our program is the Pongo Method, an evidence-based, trauma-informed technique for teaching poetry, created in collaboration with child psychiatrists, expressive writing therapists, and academics. Pongo’s approach offers youth a safe, gratifying way to express feelings about some of the worst experiences imaginable, including abuse, neglect, and exposure to violence.

About Ignite Pongo

By attending this training you will learn & practice the Pongo Method to facilitate powerful personal poetry that inspires healing & growth in your community! In this immersive training, you will hone your skills as a Poetry Mentor, learn how to remove barriers to self-expression, & encourage honesty from survivors of difficult life experiences. During the day’s activities, you will write your own poetry & experience the relief & joy that comes with the Pongo Method.

Check out our FAQs for more information on the history, evolution, and purpose of the Ignite Pongo Training Series.

Techniques You Will Learn
  • Learn how writing poetry engages trauma, supports racial justice, and inspires healing & growth
  • Discover how to facilitate Warm-up Writing Activities for individuals & groups
  • Observe & practice Taking Dictation, Pongo’s one-on-one poetry writing technique
Training Materials & Add-Ons

Writing With At-Risk Youth: The Pongo Teen Writing Method: Available via Amazon

Written by Pongo’s Founder, Richard Gold , MA, Writing With At-Risk Youth (2014) is the time-tested, essential field-guide to starting your own Pongo-inspired poetry project.

Ignite Pongo Training Participant Materials Packet ($10-shipping included). ONLY AVAILABLE UNTIL 9PM (PST) TUESDAY, OCTOBER 24, 2023.

Participants not ordering the packet will either have to:

  1. print out the packet at their own cost or
  2.  have the electronic version of the packet digitally accessible while doing the training

We highly recommend having this packet in print-form as we will be referencing it throughout the training. Relying on the electronic version during the training is not recommended for those with only one computer screen and/or those who are unfamiliar with navigating multiple windows while attending online Zoom trainings.


A limited number of partial scholarships are available to those who present a significant need. To request a scholarship for this training, please fill out the application via this link.


Meet Your Trainers

Ashley Skartvedt, MFA, CTRS/R, RYT-500

I’m Ashley Skartvedt, Co-Executive Director, Programs for Pongo Poetry Project. I’ve been affiliated with Pongo since 2013 and have served as a volunteer, mentor, trainer, and project lead. I’ve spent the majority of my career as a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist and Yoga Instructor helping people heal from trauma by leading therapeutic groups for youth and adults in psychiatric hospitals and teaching folks how to increase their awareness of the present moment and connect their mind, body, and spirit.

As a lifelong learner, I enjoy creating a reciprocal, non-hierarchical learning environment in order to share knowledge and experiences, so we can all have a richer impact on the individuals and communities we serve. I hold an MFA in Creative Writing and Poetics from the University of Washington, Bothell, and enjoy writing poetry, sharing my creative work, and uplifting the voices of others, especially those who are affected by institutional and systemic oppression. It’s important to me in all aspects of my professional and personal life to acknowledge my own position of privilege as a white-passing woman and to honor my Native American heritage as a citizen of the Tlinget and Haida Tribes of Alaska.

Nebeu Shimeles

I’m Nebeu Shimeles, Co-Executive Director of Development & Finance for Pongo Poetry Project. I’ve spent the majority of my career in nonprofit development, with over a decade of work with a diverse array of community-based organizations and individuals in service of meeting their fundraising needs and realizing their respective missions. I’ve been with Pongo since 2019, initially joining as Development Manager prior to assuming my current leadership position.

Pongo serves youth who are dealing with compounding interpersonal and systemic inequities, the foundations of which are often unaddressed trauma. These systemic inequities – whether they be institutional racism or economic precarity – are sources of trauma in and of themselves. I’m excited to support you in adopting Pongo’s methodology, because I know that sharing our effective, empathetic, and healing intervention with more youth can play a crucial role in advancing social justice.

Arlene Naganawa

I’m Arlene Naganawa. I began volunteering with Pongo in 2018 as a poetry mentor and served in 2022-23 as project lead at the Patricia H. Clark Children and Family Justice Center. Prior to my involvement with Pongo, I taught English Language Arts and Social Studies, grades 6-12, serving as district and department lead, curriculum developer, and mentor in public and independent schools. I also taught a six-month Pongo-inspired class at Echo Glen Children’s Center, worked as a Writer in the Schools for Seattle Arts and Lectures for several years, and taught youth classes and summer camps at Hugo House, a writing center in Seattle. In addition to working with youth, I continue my own writing and reading practice. My entire adult life has been devoted to youth; there is nothing more precious than a young person. Writing poetry with incarcerated youth is transformative for the young people and the mentors. It is often a magical experience, a bright moment in our lives that can make a lifelong impact. I am grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the Pongo community.

Recording Consent

By registering for and attending Ignite Pongo, all participants agree to the following statement:

I understand that Pongo will record this event for educational purposes, and that images of me and recordings of my voice may appear in the completed recording. By registering I consent to the depiction and use of my image and words in the completed recording and the future use of the recording by Pongo for educational purposes only. I understand that depictions of me will not be used commercially, by Pongo or others, and will not be given to, sold to, or shared with any person or entity other than Pongo or used for any purpose other than Pongo’s educational purposes. I release Pongo from all liability in connection with the educational use of the recording and images identified above.


Pongo is grateful to 4Culture for its support, which makes our public programming possible!

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