Pongo Video Project

Project Description

Pongo Poetry provides therapeutic writing to youth in juvenile detention and other sites. In their writing our authors consistently write about childhood traumas, such as abuse, neglect, and exposure to violence, that have deeply affected their lives. These personal traumas are often cooked in the stew of social inequities such as poverty and institutional racism. In the process of writing, however, these young people also demonstrate their resilience and determination to make a difference for themselves and in the world. It’s Pongo’s goal to share these youths’ poetry through the voices of local leaders, in support of the youth and the possibility of both personal change and systemic change.

In order to do this, we're asking involved community people to show their support of this healing process by reading the work created by these young people on video. Below are some sample videos. 


Beta Videos

Support This Project



Richard Gold


Vanessa Hooper

Eli Hastings

Eli Hastings

About Pongo Publishing

Mission and Vision

Pongo Publishing (The Pongo Poetry Project, The Pongo Teen Writing Project) teaches and mentors personal poetry by people who have suffered traumas such as abuse, ne­glect, and exposure to violence. We especially focus on individuals who have a hard time expressing themselves. To accomplish our goals, Pongo runs writing programs inside detention centers, homeless shelters, psychiatric hospitals, and other sites where trauma is a dominant theme for the residents. At the heart of Pongo’s work is a careful­ly developed and uniquely successful therapeutic methodology that we propagate nationally and internationally, as a significant aspect of our future service.

Pongo’s authors consistently write about the worst experiences imaginable, including incest, rape, beatings, abandonment, and witnessing violent death; but, movingly, they write in a way that feels safe, offers relief, brings creative joy, leads to openness, and facilitates growth. Pongo’s mission is to facilitate personal poetry as a healing response to devastating trauma – to help our authors understand their difficult feelings, find their strong voices, and address their life challenges and best hopes.

In addition to providing direct service, Pongo also teaches its methodology through trainings, a book, consultations, and free web resources. Pongo knows that trauma sufferers served by any agency or residing in any institution, anywhere, can benefit from a Pongo opportunity; so Pongo works with counselors, teachers, artists, university students, and volunteers to help them start their own writing projects on the Pongo model. Pongo also propagates its therapeutic model as a way for caregivers to care for themselves. Pongo’s vision is to encourage, train, and support Pongo-inspired writing projects that provide expressive and healing opportunities to many thousands of trauma sufferers, and their caregivers, around the country and the world.

Values Statement

Pongo Publishing (The Pongo Poetry Project, The Pongo Teen Writing Project) is a therapeutic poetry program, where the good we do is to help people express themselves in a healing way about difficult personal experiences. At the heart of this creative pro­cess is the Pongo mentors’ ability to listen to writers’ painful stories, hold these stories, allow our own vulnerabilities to inform us, and learn from the resilience in the writers. This trauma-informed work is our mission and core value.

Also, we often work within environments where we are exposed to significant social ills. We work with people who have suffered terribly and historically from societal and structural inequities, such as racism, mass incarceration, homelessness, poverty, homo­phobia, and the stigma associated with mental-health issues. It is clear that these inequi­ties are the stew within which many personal traumas are cooked. It is Pongo’s value that our writers’ poetry should be an empowering response to the trauma of injustices.

The source of poetry’s power is the real connection that is created between people through the honest expression of emotion. Poetry transcends stigmas and stereotypes because it embodies feelings and resilience that are universal, empathetic, and admi­rable. We are advocates for the healing power of poetry. We are advocates for our authors in the community, where we publish and share their personal poetry.

Pongo has a particular area of service in our potential to heal the healer. Many people are called to the helping professions because of a need to address some difficult experi­ence of their own. They also bear the weight of the difficulties endured by those they are trying to help. Pongo poetry can help these caring people to heal themselves.

Ultimately, it is a Pongo value to embody the good that we wish to see in the world, the mission of honoring everyone by creating a safe space for them to speak from the heart. In this way, for example, we not only create healing moments for our writers inside in­stitutions, but we contribute to constructive dialog within the institutions themselves. Pongo represents positive outcomes, not just for our writers and ourselves, but within the places where we work and the larger community. We accept an elevated purpose for Pongo, which is to bring respect and caring into painful places and to model these attitudes as a powerful force for individual growth and social change.

Potential Music by Isiah Mitnaul