"My father was in prison throughout my teens and I so often felt alone. I cannot imagine how different the experience might have been if I had a community like that offered by POPS the Club. I wish I could take this anthology and deliver it to my younger self, and with it all the solace, triumph, wisdom and truth found in its pages. But I need it now, too. These are the voices of the 2 million+ young people in this country with incarcerated parents, full of heartache, hope, insight and compassion, and we all should listen."
— Tyler Wetherall, Author of No Way Home: A Memoir of Life on the Run
“These collections of diverse and powerful voices bear witness to the pain, heartache, and triumphs of everyday high schoolers touched by incarceration. In an age where the news is rife with stories of family separation and children being locked in cages, these poems, stories, and drawings have never been more relevant—or urgent.”
— Laurie Sandell, author of The Impostor’s Daughter and Truth and Consequences
“Nothing on earth tugs on my heartstrings more than kids being hurt, and I know how critical it is to listen to the kids who know all about injustice. The POPS the Club’s writers and artists represented in the POPS anthologies have much to teach anyone who is interested in social justice. Their stories, poetry, and artwork overflow with the experiences, wisdom, and insights of those whose lives have been touched by incarceration. They are not to be missed!”
— Scott Budnick, founder of the Anti-Recidivism Coalition and One Community Films and producer of Just Mercy
“With these anthologies, POPS the Club has provided a critical space for young people affected directly by mass incarceration to voice their hurts, their emptiness, their awareness, and their poetic expressions. I’m awed by the unity of thought, feelings, and words that this writing forges against the odds. Such writing is initiatory, engaging the mythic imagination inherent in us all and birthing the new and unique the way all community-based initiations should do. These anthologies can be examples of the transformation possible in all wounds, making them wombs of new life, energy, and dreams instead of tombs of the dead things we tend to carry when we don’t let them go. I honor the work of Amy Friedman and everyone at POPS.”
— Luis J. Rodriguez, poet, novelist, journalist, and 2014 Los Angeles Poet Laureate; author of contemporary Chicano literature, notably Always Running; winner of the Carl Sandburg Literary Award; and cofounder of Tía Chucha Press
“The POPS anthologies are a unique experience—a collection of poems, essays, and artwork that intimately connect us to a population of teenagers who are navigating life in a very particular way. These teens share their work with brave authenticity and a maturity well beyond their years. The work is powerful, heartbreaking, inspiring, and sobering. A must-read for anyone who truly cares to know the full impact of our prison system.”
— Jessica Tuck, actor, producer, and founder and executive producer of Spark Off Rose
“For twenty years I’ve transformed concepts to creations, helping dozens of authors find success in the marketplace, many becoming New York Times bestselling authors. I know what it takes to develop a compelling message, and I know powerful books and important messages when I read them. The POPS the Club anthologies are monumental works of vital, inspiring stories we all need to read.”
— Kristin Loberg, collaborator on Grain Brain, Hype, and The Switch
“I can’t think of a better way to convey the heartbreak and hardships of having an incarcerated family member than the POPS anthologies. I’ve seen many people (including myself) brought to tears by the gorgeous, honest poetry, essays, and artwork in every publication. It shines a brilliant light into a part of our country that too often is left in shadow.”
— Claire LaZebnik, author of Epic Fail, Things I Should Have Known, and The Smart One and the Pretty One and coauthor with Dr. Lynn Koegel of Overcoming Autism
“As the child of an incarcerated parent, one thing I felt was missing throughout my life was community. I was searching for a space where others not only cared about me and my situation but had some understanding of the unique circumstances that incarceration presents. POPS does just that—it provides a community. The youth involved in the club are a part of this wonderful group, but through their thoughtful prose, we too become members. A must-read for directly impacted individuals and their allies, the POPS anthologies excel where others have fallen short. By bringing the voices of the youth to the forefront, POPS the Club gives readers unprecedented access to the experience of familial incarceration by the experts themselves—directly impacted individuals.”
— Whitney Hollins, PhD, educator, advocate, and author of Anna’s Test
“I picked up the POPS anthologies and prepared to experience the cute efforts of poor little kids. By the second page I had a fist in my throat and burning eyes. I was laugh-choking silently. I felt transported by the vulnerability and grace of the poetry to a precynical place wiser than all the news in my feed. The POPS anthologies are a masterpiece of light-handed art: stories and perspectives from the children who pay the price of a growing carceral state. Reading this work forces us to see the human deficit of torn families and spirals of harm that our worship of nonrestorative procedural justice propagates. Above all, the bittersweet richness in these books comes from the hope and resilience present on the page. Without shame, the young writers in these pages use their skill and clarity to find both solace for themselves and salvation for all of us.”
— Robert Pollock, teaching artist and manager of the Prison and Justice Writing Program, PEN America, illustrator Sing Sing Midnight
“Through writing and art, discussion and community, POPs heals the stigma and shame so often felt by youth whose lives have been impacted by prison. They are the silent victims of our mass incarceration crisis. POPs should be in every high school in America.”
— Christina McDowell, author of After Perfect and The Cave Dwellers and coproducer of A Survivor’s Guide to Prison
“During the 1980s and ‘90s, when I taught creative writing in New York City public schools, I had many students whose family members or friends were in prison or had once been incarcerated. One of my most talented students lived in constant fear that her father would be sent back to jail merely for walking down a block where drugs were being sold. Other students confessed similar fears, and they all had to live with shame that someone they loved had been incarcerated and in despair because there was nothing they could do about it. Had POPS existed in those days, my students wouldn’t have had to feel so afraid or ashamed, because they would have been in a community of people like themselves who could sympathize with them and give them practical advice. And they might have fought back against the despair by helping others with similar problems and by expressing their own feelings in poems and stories that would make them proud. POPS is making a huge difference in the lives of young people like my students, all across the country.”
— Stephen O’Connor, author of Will My Name Be Shouted Out?
"The first public reading by writers of the POPS anthologies back in 2015, presented at the Grove Barnes and Noble in Los Angeles, was a memorable and emotional event. Witnessing these new writers, nurtured by the POPS program, as they felt the power of their words, their stories, spoken in public and appearing physically in print, was a thrilling reminder of the roots of what we do as writers, and why. I have no doubt that I heard voices for the first time that day that we will be hearing from in the future."
--Thomas Frick, Art critic, museum editor, and author of the novel The Iron Boys
"Even for established writers, there may be nothing so gratifying as finally holding a published book of their work in their hands. Imagine how much more important and empowering that moment can be to youth whose stories have long been ignored and silenced. In the POPS anthologies, young people bear witness to the pain, hardship, and multi-generational repercussions inflicted by our flawed prison system. With their poems, memoirs, and stories – beautiful, authentic, angry, yearning -- we grasp in a profound way the human toll our mass incarceration policies exact on children and their families. As these works give voice to the youths who wrote them, they also empower us to deeper self-scrutiny and political action."
--Deborah A. Lott, Author of Don’t Go Crazy Without Me: A Tragicomic Memoir
Instructor of Creative Writing and Literature, Antioch University, Los Angeles
"What is most impressive about the POPS anthologies is the overwhelming power of the truth and sincerity contained within their pages. Each story is heartfelt, honest, open and fearless. I suspect the vast majority of the teenaged authors whose work appears in these collections come from homes where they were faced daily with challenges, both mental and physical, and nevertheless they became creators. How powerful is that? In the face of immeasurable opposition in society and in their own hearts and minds, these kids have voluntarily bared their souls in order that they might lighten their own psychic burden, and maybe, just maybe, invent a better life for themselves. With short stories, poems, song lyrics, and artworks that will last as long as the books exist, the young contributors of the POPS Anthologies have made themselves immortal. Such an impressive accomplishment, and something that should be supported by reading the works and engaging with those who produced them. Thank you for these collections."
--Damien Belliveau, motion picture editor, Author and creator of The Part Black Project
"POPStheclub.com, Inc, a California-based nonprofit that supports and encourages youth impacted by mass incarceration through the arts and other supportive methods has created another gift for us all to share. Parental and familial incarceration has destabilized families and communities throughout the United States. This country’s most precious commodity, our children, have been affected more than any group. Many of them suffer in silence, unable to articulate their pain, their suffering, and often times their shame. The realities of their lives forces them to take on more responsibilities and deal with compound trauma that can defer dreams. This collection of brilliance has provided those directly impacted with a mechanism to amplify their voices so that their stories can be heard and understood. This work will educate, positively influence, and empower every reader. It serves as a testament to the resilience, power, and intelligence of every single contributor. We all should be grateful for what these beautiful souls have created for our benefit."
--Tony Lewis Jr. ,Author, Slugg/Activist