Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Poetry and Drug Addiction

Did you know that following marijuana, prescription drug use is the second leading form of illegal drug use among teens? Teens are using prescription drugs such as oxycontin, valium, and vicodin, at a rate of 40 percent higher than previous generations. 

When I sat down to write my young adult novel, WEAVING MAGIC, main character Christopher popped onto the page as a kid who had a prescription drug addiction problem. My local high school had just implemented a drug testing program where athletes can be tested, at random, during the sports season. In WEAVING MAGIC, Christopher is a baseball player who gets caught using drugs, kicked off the team and sent to rehab.  

When I was writing WEAVING MAGIC, I had to make a decision about where to begin the story. Did I tell the story based on the time Christopher was using? Or did I tell the story when Christopher was clean and sober? I’ve read a lot of young adult novels and I have rarely seen a book where the main character is a teen in sobriety. I decided the story of recovery was the one I wanted to tell in WEAVING MAGIC. I wanted to tell the story of how Christopher tries to change his life and what happens to thwart him from his goal of staying clean and sober.

WEAVING MAGIC is available at MuseItUp Bookstore here and at many on-line bookstores.

 WEAVING MAGIC is on Facebook here.

WEAVING MAGIC was partially inspired by a poetry workshop I facilitate at a juvenile detention center. The bulk of the teens are serving what is termed as “drug related crimes.” These may be the actual buying or selling of a drug, or they may be crimes committed for the drug such as robbery, or they may be crimes committed while under the influence such as assault.  Most of the time, the drugs are not alcohol or marijuana. The drugs are prescription drugs and methamphetamine.

In the poetry workshop, we write free-verse poetry which focuses on the teen’s experiences. For example, one young lady wrote this poem about her life with methamphetamine:

Teen Girl


I am from…
            A tweeker shak raided astrew.
There’s nothing I can do.

I am from…
            A closet smoke reeking through
I can’t even move.

I am from…
A place and color called Blue
Kicking it with my crew.

I am from…
            A broken and shattered home
Where jail’s always the end.

I am from…
            The corner selling shards where         
Lives always end.

I am from the dark…
            Where evil lurks.

 I am from the streets…
Where people get murked

I am from the other side…
Where people cry

I turn my face and hide cuz…
I know that I should have died

I am from this thing called…

Published in Call it Courage. August 2006.

You can read more of the youth’s poems on their blog here.

And you can find out how to teach some of these same poems here:

April is National Poetry Month and there is a scene in WEAVING MAGIC where Christopher is in juvenile detention writing poetry.  If you’d like to learn more about using WEAVING MAGIC in the classroom, there is a free study guide for WEAVING MAGIC here.

I am also available for SKYPE visits with students. Please contact me through my website here.


Wendy said...

Hi Mindy,
You have real stories to tell to help young people. It's so good you do. I clicked on your website and read your free study guide. That is so thorough and a wonderful guide for children to squeeze the last drop of information and entertainment from your book.

The poems here by the young girl brought tears to my eyes. Touched a nerve.

Wendy said...

I don't know why there are adds inside my post. I didn't put them there.

Mindy Hardwick said...

Thanks Wendy! WEAVING MAGIC has a lot of great topics which are perfect discussions in an 8th or 9th grade class!