You Hear Me?
You Hear Me? is a rousing anthology of poems, essays, and stories written by young men aged twelve through twenty. In the preface to the book, editor Betsy Franco states, “My philosophy has been that people should speak for themselves” (p. xi). Abiding by this principle, Franco presents the young men’s writing without additional commentaries. This approach of letting the poems and stories stand for themselves gives the reader a glimpse into the experiences of teenage boys of varied ethnic backgrounds living throughout the United States, as expressed through the boys’ own words rather than interpreted by an adult. The authors were recruited by various means. Some were personally invited to submit written pieces, while others responded to solicitations placed in creative writing journals and on the Internet, and invitations given to writing projects in three cities.
Whether the teenage authors contributed one or several pieces of writing, each helps to enlighten readers of this anthology. The writings are cogent representations of the reality that adolescent boys encounter. From the first poem, Quantedius Hall’s powerful “Time Somebody Told Me,” to the last, dr’s valiant untitled poem, the voices of these young men can be heard clearly. The authors reveal themselves to be sons, fathers, friends, and lovers. They write with refreshing frankness and, at times, explicit language about varied themes that include love, pain, sports, drugs, school, sexuality, death, difference, and racism.
This book demonstrates the possibilities of individual support and writing programs that encourage individuals in their teens — years that are full of challenges and rich with experience — to express themselves through writing. A wide range of readers will learn from the worlds of teenage boys as portrayed in this anthology. Parents, counselors, administrators, and teachers should take this opportunity to hear the voices of teenage boys revealing what is important to them, their trials, and their triumphs. In addition, these writers speak to each other and to other teenagers who can discover what experiences they share and take steps toward understanding their differences.