Wisdom from Youth: Voices from Kansas City

On July 25, about a dozen members of the Power of Words conference committee met with teenagers from Kansas City, MO who are likely going to join us at the conference through special funding from the Jackson County Family Court Emergency Children’s Fund. Thanks to poet, writer and artist Jose Faus’s wonderful mini-writing workshop with all of us, we enjoyed and were moved by the writing from the teens, all of whom are in court-mandated programs (such as foster care, diversion, etc.) and have a lot of lifetime stories already percolating through them. Jose invited us to describe a room, real or wished for, where we could feel comfortable ourselves and comfortable and even stay for 24 hours. Here are some samples of what the teens wrote:

My Perfect Room


I walked into my room. I look left, then I look right.

I see this is my room, not any kind of room.

My room so as I look left, I could see my bed, also dresser.

Then I look right, and I could see my TV and

my mini basketball goal. Then I see my closet,

then I see my shoes all messed up.

Also I see posters on both sides.

I say to myself, this is no ordinary room.

It’s my room, and it’s the way I want it to be,

the perfect room for me.

~ Daveontae


The Perfect Room


I walk in the kitchen, and all I see is a stove and a refrigerator.

That means I can eat all day.

I see a bed and a class room.

That means I’m already at school.

Last but not least, I see a bathroom.

Basically, I don’t have to get up.

I’m the luckiest person in the world.

Oh, I forgot I had to call my coach and tell him

I quit because I had a trainer and a 10-foot basketball goal.

This room is big enough to fit my whole family in here.

~ Donnell

Thanks to Kelly Hams Pearson, operations director of the 16th Circuit Court for setting up this meeting and being the bridge between the teens and the conference. We look forward to seeing everyone from our July 25 meeting at the Sept. 18-20 Power of Words conference, which features a keynote poet, Jimmy Santiago Baca, who started out all-too-familiar with the court system where he grew up before, in the middle of committing a crime, he realized his true mission was to become a poet. Jimmy also shares his story of going from the barrios of the Southwest to become one of America’s best loved poets here in the new documentary about him.

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