Local Juvenile Court and Community Schools (JCCS) students recently had their poems published as part of this year's edition of the San Diego Poetry Annual.
In the book, there's a special section with 48 poems written by 46 students in the JCCS program, which is operated by the San Diego County Office of Education.
The poems were inspired by poetry workshops run by Jim Hornsby Moreno in juvenile detention facilities and community schools. Poet Jim, as the students know him, runs the workshops based on cultural respect and emotional safety.
Moreno said the workshops work for students who often don't enjoy writing because they can connect with the words on a more raw and emotional level.
"When they write from the heart and they take themselves seriously as poets and storytellers, the poems give me goose bumps," he said. "If I can get them away from rules, they have the rhythm and the sound of storytelling."
This is the first time teenagers have been included in the annual poetry book. One of the published poems is included below.
Writing poems gives students a way to reduce inhibition, express themselves, open lines of communication, and build self-confidence, said Nathan Head, a JCCS instructional coach who had Moreno's workshops in his classes for years.
"I saw an enthusiasm to share what they had written," Head said. "A lot of our students are very reserved, but I saw their excitement."
By Robert, 17, Camp Barrett
My life is like a puzzle
There are many different pieces
Some are big and some are small
And some mean more than others
Some are filled with happiness
Some are filled with sorrow
And some are filled with love
Some pieces make you stronger
And some pieces make you smarter
Some pieces bring you joy
And some pieces bring you nothing at all