"Don't Let Nobody Bring You Down"Ě


This paper explores the engagement of African-American, Caribbean-American, and immigrant West African girls in the critical analysis and writing of poetry to make sense of their multi-dimensional lives. The authors worked with high-school aged girls from Brooklyn, New York who took part in a weekly school-based violence prevention program, and who became both 'participants' in an ethnographic research study with the authors and 'poets' as they creatively analyzed themes from research data. The girls cultivated a practice of reading and writing poetry that further explored dating and relationship violence, themes that emerged from the violence prevention program sessions and the ethnographic interviews. The girls then began to develop 'poetic knowledge' grounded in their lived experiences as urban Black girls. The authors offer that 'participatory narrative analysis' is an active strategy that urban Black girls enlist to foster individual and collective understanding and healing.