Dear Friends

Kat Secaida, wearing white Converse sneakers, wanders through her hood, collecting the stories of the Culver City projects. Julian Izaguirre recalls the drama at school that starts when you don't want it to.

The young artists and poets in Dear Friends, the eighth anthology from POPS the Club—a nonprofit serving youth impacted by the Pain of the Prison System—forged their work largely during the pandemic and in isolation. Though they were separated by screens from friends, teachers, counselors, and peers, their work still brims with hope and curiosity. It is searing, straightforward, sensitive, and sometimes startling in its wisdom and honesty. I'm not someone who's always right, Mikey Estrada writes, but I always try to be. A kid who likes to read and learn . . . a kid who grew up in violence and in gangs . . . where others were waiting for me to fail. Instead, this volume speaks of their success and of all they have to teach us

POPS the Club offers a sacred space where those with incarcerated loved ones can connect with each other, creating a supportive and open-hearted community. Students draw, paint, write, photograph, talk, listen, and share their stories, untangling the web of shame, stigma, and sorrow these young people too often face.