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  • Things I Have to Tell You
  • Edited by Betsy Franco
    Photographed by Nina Nickles
  • Format: Trade Paperback | ISBN: 9780763610357
  • Our Price: $9.99
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Things I Have to Tell You

Poems and Writing by Teenage Girls

Edited by Betsy FrancoAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Betsy Franco
Photographed by Nina NicklesAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Nina Nickles

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poetry (12)
poetry (12)


Teenage girls tell their own stories—in compelling poetry and prose paired with 42 striking black-and-white photographs.

The voices in this collection have so much to question, so much to grieve. They have so much to celebrate, so much to rage against. They’re ready to speak up and begin the conversation — with you and with the world. More than thirty uncensored poems are accompanied by Nina Nickles’s masterful photographs, which sensitively capture the moods and essence of adolescence. Here, painted in the words of teenage girls, is a portrait of their dreams and desires - a record of hope, disillusionment, anger, joy, sadness, and most of all, strength.


Do you know my secret,
Did I tell you it last night,
Were you listening to my dreams,
Were you hiding out of sight?

Do you look to find my secret,
Reading letters, reading notes,
Picking up sometimes on phone calls,
Opening books to see what I wrote?

Do you really want to know my secret,
Will it answer all your questions,
Take away your mass of worries?
Or maybe, you could ask for my suggestions.

Do you ever think to ask me about my secret,
Being honest and forthright,
With no lies or hidden feelings?
Only then will my secret come to light.

Jessica L. McCloskey, age 16

I look inside me and I don’t see it
I don’t see the power
The confidence you say I have
You say I can do anything
That I’m sure of myself and my intentions
And I wonder
But I don’t know
If it’s all there
Waiting for the opportunity
to jump into you
And try to help you
Fix you
Ask you
Why? Because I don’t know
I wait anxiously
Feeling my stomach
A block of ice
Chipping away, melting,
then freezing up again
Who can I follow?
Cuz I don’t want to lead
I ask myself every question

There are temporary answers
But I know more
Like everybody seems to know more
And I still don’t know how
Cuz it’s nice to ignore confrontation
Avoid conflict
Watch my rainbow
And let you watch yours
But the universe knows more
I must take this test just like everyone
Takes tests
I am closing in on the sky
Hoping it will try to escape
And I know I will let it get away
Like I let a lot of things get away
Cuz then I won’t have to continue the search
For my power

Theresa Hossfeld, age 16

Today I gave up
a promising career of "truth."
Profound state of love
stepped in like a puzzle piece.
Completing, no, not
the Empire State Building,
not Mt. Rushmore or
van Gogh’s Sunflowers.
Completing instead
my departure from "honesty."
Can I find a balance
between me and
the box I call my family?
I want equilibrium.
I want subtle change.
I want to tell the Truth,
not the truth of the woman
who snapped on a collar
and named me alive.

I found myself a place
to be, to play
a day went by or maybe two
no thoughts of you to crowd my empty mind
I find my body is to me
as lovely as
a budding tree
a cat with grace
and emerald eyes
so unconcerned with shapely thighs
just me
a girl
inside this shape
a woman’s hips and breasts
so much wider, softer than the rest
I found myself a crystal blue
like nymphs or faeries do

I never thought of you
or what you’d think of me
I found my body was
a mass of ground
the earth inside of me
behind my vinyl walls of
picture perfection
I was the earth, the sky
it made me want to cry
to shout the softness
I have never dared let out
my curves, my hair
a part of who I was
a blonde in a clear glass pond
myself a flow of nature
finding joy

Marissa Korbel, age 16

Words fly across the paper like blackbirds across the sky
and I think to myself why oh
why oh why
why why,
Why would anyone use words like
I hate and
I can’t and
I quit therefore I won’t and
Good bye?
Why not take that beautiful skill and use words like
I love and
I can and
I will or
at least I’ll try and
Hello . . . hello,
because I believe in word conservation
and if you’re going to use a word at all
it should be one that glides off of your tongue

I know I am strong
both in my convictions and in myself.
I know I am beautiful
both inside and out.
I know I am powerful
and growing more so.
I know I will do just fine.

Laura Veuve, age 15

Things I Have to Tell You. Copyright (c) 2001 Betsy Franco. Candlewick Press, Inc., Cambridge, MA

  • Things I Have to Tell You by Betsy Franco
  • May 01, 2001
  • Poetry; Juvenile Nonfiction - Poetry
  • Candlewick
  • $9.99
  • 9780763610357

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