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Book Written By Local Teenagers To Be Featured In American Poetry Museum

TAMPA, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) - One local organization that works with young black teenagers is creating an impact all over the nation.

Gentlemen's Quest of Tampa had its teens contribute to a book that will now be featured in the American Poetry Museum in Washington D.C.

The book called "I Am...A Young Black Man" is filled with poems written by young black teenagers in Tampa Bay, many of them touching on their goals and fears in life.

One of the students, Donovan Terry, wasn't expecting his poem to become so famous.

"I was actually surprised myself because I never though I'd be in a book," said Terry.

What started off as a Summer camp assignment last year, turned into a book that is now making history.

"The students created "I am" poems as a free-write. They didn't have time to think about what they were going to write. It was a 15 minute activity," said Tavis Myrick, Gentlemen's Quest of Tampa Director.

"As they began to present their activities to me and one of our other teachers, we were just so overwhelmed with what the students were sharing," said Myrick.

It was an assignment that changed the lives of the teenage boys who are part of a local non-profit called Gentlemen's Quest of Tampa.

"The book is all about young black men telling poems about how they feel," said Terry.

Terry is one of the teenagers featured in the book.

Here is a portion of his poem:

"I care that everything that i see and care about will leave me behind one day. I cry when I think about the real world and my family being hurt."

Another writer, Clyde St. Vall, poured his heart into his poem too:

"I dream about a lot. I try to do my best and be lovable. I hope to achieve my goals. I understand that my mom is working hard for me and my future needs."

Since the book was published last October, over 1,000 copies have been sold, and next week the teens will be traveling to Washington D.C. to see their book featured in the American Poetry Museum. It's something Myrick hopes will help youth all over the country.

"I think it's so important for minority youth to express themselves, especially during this time where mental health is such a big concern," said Myrick.

"After they see people of their age and color, they'll say 'Oh, I can do that too. I want to be inspired by them. I want to do what they do,'" said St. Vall.

The group will be heading to Washington D.C. next Friday.

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