"I'm going to be the one who
makes mad paper (money)
Not that thug paper but
that higher education paper
I'm not going like John Gotti but
like Langston Hughes and Askia M. Touré"
- An excerpt from a poem by Ricky,
a youth in our Transitional Living program
Ricky performed several of his original poems during the first open mic night hosted by Cunningham’s Transitional Living program at the Spiritual Life Center. Several of his peers joined him - some performing songs - yet it was the hope and the pain in Ricky's spoken word poetry that shined brighter than the spotlight.
Ricky has a notebook filled with his words that speak of his struggles growing up with a drug-addicted parent and his hopes for the future. For him, therapy is putting those words together in a way that becomes his art and his performance. He speaks of a future where he is not judged on his appearance but on his intellect. In Ricky's 18 years he has experienced more pain than most do in a lifetime, that pain has made him even more certain of his future, one that includes "that higher education paper."
*All stories are real, however names are changed and photos selected to protect the privacy of our youth.