Youth Poetry Library

Teen Collections Overview

Writing by teens in jail, on the streets, leading difficult lives

Pongo has facilitated thousands of wonderful teen poems that are poignant and surprising and powerful — and that offer a different perspective on some young people who are in deep distress but also very resilient.
We have samples of several hundred poems here, including poetry from juvenile detention, the state psychiatric hospital for children, and other Pongo sites.

Browse Youth Poetry Collection

While feeling grateful has many benefits, for Pongo youth poets approaching gratitude authentically can present a challenge. Yet, when given the opportunity, the majority have been eager to do so as it presents an opportunity to tell their stories. In anticipation of the 2021 winter holiday season, enjoy these 4 poems by youth at CSTC
In honor of Indigenous People's Day, 2021Non-Natives can learn many things from Native Peoples. "Navarre's" poem is a powerful example of this: Totem Poleby "Navarre" a Native American resident of King County Juvenile Detention, age 15My mistakes and what happened Reasons why I’m hereThinking about the past to the presentTrying to figure out how it beganHow
SOMETIMES, I WONDER, written by a young person at CFJC. Sometimes I wonder, is trouble part of life, or is it just something you get into one day? But I know this:
MY HAIR, written by Amori, age 13. In the middle of 4th grade, I decided to cut my hair. My mom shaved it to half an inch, I felt like people were going to make fun of me.
VULNERABILITY IS A STRENGTH, written by Naomi, age 13. Vulnerability is a strength, not a weakness, It is a sign of power. Vulnerability can be your anchor or your wings, You can let it take you down.
THIS IS ME, written by a young person at CSTC, age 12. I am painting my self-portrait. For this work I have chosen the colors of black, for the dark times and yellow for the good times.
COLD NIGHTS ON I-90, written by a young man at CSTC, age 17. As I look out the frost-covered window, of the half-working rickety car, I wonder How did I get here?
ROSE TO ROSEBUSH, written by a young person at CFJC, age 17. A rose can grow up from under, a stampede of shoes made of all different sizes, so long as it’s will to survive is stronger, than it’s will to give in.
As the first week of Pride Month coincides with Pongo wrapping up our programs for the academic year of 20-21, it's an ideal time to celebrate the people who have helped us love ourselves.Recently, I had the privilege to mentor poetry with a young man who told me about his experience coming out at an
Amidst the news of anti-Asian bullying and hate crimes, Pongo Poetry Project stands in solidarity with our Asian sisters, brothers, and siblings in humanity and condemns acts of domestic, racialized terrorism.Hearing the awfulness of anti-Asian sentiment is dramatically contrasted by the hopeful, generative, and altruistic sensibilities of our authors, like this young poet who offers