If a city becomes a ghost town, what happens to its youth?

Launching on Jan. 5, “Broken City Poets” is a documentary that chronicles the lives of four high school students who are challenged to use poetry to make sense of their bankrupt, gang-ridden city.

The Center for Investigative Reporting and Youth Speaks, a San Francisco-based literary nonprofit that works with young people, hosted a series of poetry workshops in Stockton, California, in 2013. With nearly 300,000 residents, Stockton was the first large American city to file for bankruptcy and at one time was the nation’s foreclosure capital. Forbes magazine named it one of the most miserable places to live in the U.S. based on its high unemployment, violent crime and foreclosure rates, among other criteria.

We wondered what kinds of stories these young people would tell if they wrote about their hometown, using deeply reported facts provided by CIR journalists and arts education workshops curated by Youth Speaks.

Watch the trailer for “Broken City Poets” and stay tuned for the online launch of the documentary Jan. 5. You can also watch CIR’s documentary “Who Took Down Stockton?” to learn more about what happened to this city.

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