Juvenile Detention Teen Poetry Program Gets National Attention

On February 11, 2014, PBS NewsHour visited Juvenile Detention to film a story about Pongo Teen Writing – a volunteer, nonprofit organization – and the therapeutic impact of poetry on at-risk youth.

Richard Gould, the founder and Executive Director of Pongo Publishing Teen Writing Project, has been helping troubled teens express themselves through poetry and has published their work in anthologies since mid-1970. He has volunteered his services at Juvenile Detention since 1998. Detained youth have responded to Mr. Gould’s encouragement and help by writing about traumatic events in their lives, such as, losses, death, abandonment, abuse, and parental addiction. Several anthologies have been published over the years highlighting poems written by detained youth (who are not identified in the book by their full name).

PBS featured this innovative program in its ongoing series “Where Poetry Lives,” during its March 17 NewsHour program. Reporter Jeffrey Brown and U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey learned more about the program and how it empowers young people in crisis to express themselves. Watch the nine-minute video here.