Denney Juvenile Justice Center Poetry Workshop founder and facilitator Mindy Hardwick writes,
In 2005, I volunteered to facilitate a poetry workshop with youth at Denney Juvenile Justice Center, located in Everett, Washington. Each week, I meet with a group of young men and a group of young ladies and we write poems which are based on the young people’s experience. As a part of the poetry workshop, we’ve published four books of the youth’s poetry. The poetry books are distributed, free of charge, to the youth themselves, as well as to others in the community. The youth always ask, “When is the next poetry book coming out? Is my poem in it?” The poetry workshop gives the teens an opportunity to express their stories and to be heard in their community. We are thrilled to have our new blog as a means for publishing the youth’s poetry, and hope the blog gives the teen writers another opportunity for their words to be heard.
Each Wednesday, one of the youth’s poems is published on the blog, and Hardwick blogs about the writing process for that particular poem on her personal blog. Here is the most recent excerpt from Hardwick’s blog, which is a fantastic resource for facilitators:
In the Eyes Of…
We have a new post on the Denney Poetry Blog. The poem, “In the Eyes of My Mother,” was first published in our second book of poetry, I Am From.
One of the poetry books I like to use with the teens in the detention center poetry workshop is, You Hear Me: Poems and Writing by Teenage Boys, edited by Betsy Franco. The collection includes poems, stories, and essays from boys across the country. Sometimes there can be a misconception that boys don’t talk about feelings, and what I’ve found working in the poetry workshop, is that boys can and do express their emotions. Very well!
In the collection, You Hear Me, there is a poem which is entitled, What I Am (In the Eyes of My Father). When I work with the teens at Denney, we read this poem, and then I ask them to think of someone important in their life. It could be a parent, teacher, best friend, girlfriend, or sibling. Or, it could be something larger such as a community, society, or world. I ask the question, who are you in the eyes of that person?
“In the Eyes of My Mother” is the response from one young man.