Christina Lee
Christina Lee
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Connecting Teens Through Poetry on Ning

It’s been a while since I was a teen (sigh), but I still remember it was a time when everything suddenly became a lot more complex. It was the time when I began the journey to explore who I was and to make sense out of the confusing world (does it ever end?). Asserting my voice was particularly hard with pressure from peers and limitless expectations from parents.

For teenagers, there’s nothing more important than having a place where they feel they’re being accepted unconditionally; a safe platform where they can express their real emotions. Alex Trivas, an English teacher at the Brentwood School in L.A. recently put together a social site on Ning called One Billion Poets with the goal to provide just that. Why is it called One Billion Poets? There are one billion teenagers around the world, and Alex sees that as one billion potential poets who can “inspire and shape the world through their writing.”

While every teenager is different (everyone comes from different backgrounds on many levels), they face many of the same challenges and share many of the same dreams. Alex describes his vision of One Billion Poets on his Ning site:

Teenagers are often labeled as disaffected, disgruntled, and disengaged. However, we see numerous teens around the world striving to effect positive change. And frankly, if you are feeling a bit disaffected, that’s okay too. The world is complex and tough, and it can be doubly so for teens. One elixir for the disillusionment and frustrations we face is the potency of poetry. Focusing on the four following prompts: Where I’m From, What I Carry, Why I Laugh, and What I Wish, One Billion Poets invites all aspiring poets to connect with each other and to share and reflect on each other’s poems. We hope you will all see that although we certainly come from very diverse backgrounds — sometimes extraordinarily different — we all share many of the same dreams, burdens, loves, hopes, and emotions. Whether you live in Tunisia or Detroit, Moscow or Mexico City, we believe you all have something salient and beautiful to say about the teenage experience in the 21st century.

Teenagers from around the world indeed see the connection with one another through poetry. Since its launch in March, there are already people across 14 countries and 27 states in the U.S. visiting this site. And the word is spreading among students, teachers, and parents.

Big cheers to One Billion Poets for doing important work for teenagers everywhere! Reading their heartfelt poetry reminds me how important it was when I was a teen to have a community of people who could help me figure out Where I’m From, What I Carry, Why I Laugh, and What I Wish.

Know a teenager who is still figuring these big questions out? They can get the word out with One Billion Poets.