cropped

We hope you can join us as we announce the new Houston Youth Poet Laureate at the Writers in the Schools Gala on Thursday, November 10th, 6pm at The Astorian.

Writers in the Schools (WITS) and the Houston Public Library, in partnership with the City of Houston Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs (MOCA), and with support from Urban Word NYC, the Academy of American Poets, Poetry Society of America, and PEN Center USA, launched a city-wide competition to select Houston’s second Youth Poet Laureate.

Talented young poets, ages 14-19, submitted work in hopes of becoming the next Houston Youth Poet Laureate and last night submissions came flooding in until the stroke of midnight. Now judges will begin reviewing submissions and the top 5 finalists will be interviewed on Saturday, October 8th. From those finalists, Mayor Sylvester Turner will appoint the 2016-17 Houston Youth Poet Laureate.

 

 

untitled-5

Writers in the Schools student, Regional and Houston Youth Poet Laureate, Andrew White, was invited to the White House last week to meet with the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. Students performed poetry in the State Dining Room and met with First Lady Michele Obama, and nationally-acclaimed poets, Q-Tip, and Elizabeth Alexander.

During Obama’s speech, the First Lady recognized Andrew and the other 4 Regional Youth Poet Laureates in the audience and had them stand for a roaring applause.

Congratulations to Andrew and all of the other young poets! And thank you, Michele Obama, for encouraging students to write!

 

553c60_059acae1a9624c9ab14597c8ca12ddbd

WITS is a presenting sponsor at the Houston Arts Partners Conference on Friday, September 9th and Saturday the 10th! Stop by our booth for some fun WITS swag and more information about our programs. We will also host 2 panels and our very own Meta-Four youth performance poetry team will give a special performance at Friday’s Happy Hour event. Check out the program for a full listing of panels >>

  • Friday, September 9th 11-12pm: Using Video Games and Game Design in the Creative Writing Classroom
  • Saturday, September 10th 11-12pm: WITS and a Collaborative Approach to Teaching Writing

 

Register Today »

XDRpRFuyineSGvc-800x450-noPad
WITS 4th Grader, Lila, has started a petition for Bag-Free Bayous! We are so proud that one of our students is dedicating her time and energy to bettering the quality of life for all Houstonians and cleaning up our waterways.

“Every year, about 300 million pounds of plastic are produced, but only 10 percent is recycled.[1] It is estimated that Americans go through about 100 billion plastic bags a year, or 360 bags per year for every man, woman, and child in the country.[2] Many of these bags end up on the streets and sidewalks or caught in tree branches. Others wind up in bayous. Not only does the litter look bad and hurt wildlife in the bayous, it washes into our bays, the Gulf of Mexico, and beyond. The adoption of reusable bags could save taxpayer dollars related to cleanup costs….”

Sign Lila’s Petition » Watch Lila’s Story »

YPL2016logoCalling all poets,writers, spoken word artists, and emcees! Here is your opportunity to represent Houston as Youth Poet Laureate.

The Youth Poet Laureate Program aims to identify youth writers and activists in our community who are dedicated to civic engagement through poetry and performance.

This program is open to youth ages 14-19 in Houston, Texas (must have a valid Houston address).

Applications are due Wednesday, September 21, 2016, at 11:59pm.

The Houston Youth Poet Laureate is a joint program of Writers in the Schools and the Houston Public Library with support from Urban Word NYC, the Academy of American Poets, Poetry Society of America, PEN Center USA, and Penmanship Books. The Houston Youth Poet Laureate Program aims to identify young writers and leaders who are committed to civic and community engagement, poetry and performance, human relations, diversity, and education across Houston.
Download Flyer » Apply Now »

by WITS Writer, Lesa Boutin

gamechanger

 

I’m not a gamer, but when I heard about WITS Digital I wanted in. As a fiction writer, the idea of creating the story behind a video game intrigued me. I admit to having a certain mindset when it came to gaming. I thought it a solitary experience, which writing is, and maybe that’s what drew me to it. Turns out I was wrong.

My first two Digital classes were after school placements at Lantrip Elementary. In the beginning, I feared not being a gamer would be a hindrance. I soon realized I was over-thinking it. Once I learned the ins-and-outs of Gamestar Mechanic, the online program WITS Digital uses for the game building, I found it easy and surprisingly fun.

The inaugural class at Lantrip was an exceptional group of self-starters. It was this class, particularly Isaac Cruz, who helped me find my way from the start. Isaac would go home after the lesson each week and play/work on his Quests. Quests are played before actual game design and teach the gamer how to build the game itself. He’d come back for the next class and share what he’d discovered. He wasn’t the only one, and I started to notice something I hadn’t expected, a spontaneous development of community. When one would have trouble mastering a level, he or she would shout out, moan, or any other verbal form of frustration, and someone would come to the rescue. Together, they’d work to overcome the obstacle.

Continue Reading >>

mural

WITS is excited and proud to announce that Cuchara Restaurant has generously chosen to donate $5 out of every $35 spent at Cuchara on Tuesday, August 30th and Wednesday, August 31st to WITS! We encourage everyone to go have a delicious meal and enjoy the beautiful murals and ambiance. Great place for a date night or lunch meeting (hint, hint)!

by WITS Intern, Danielle Resh

DSC_0056

 

If I had to pick the most important qualities for a person or an organization to cultivate, I would choose three things: a capacity for empathy, a hunger for personal growth, and the ability to be true to oneself.

At WITS, empathy means seeking to truly understand and support others. It feels like the warmth of an encouraging hand on a struggling student’s shoulder. It sounds like the silence of closed and patient lips waiting for the right words to arise. It tastes like fresh banana bread baked by WITS staff members to sweeten the early mornings.

At WITS, personal growth means constantly working to improve ourselves and ensuring that our actions and values align. It looks like stacks of parent and teacher evaluations, each one carefully read and considered. It sounds like hands grazing walls covered with art and writing as we roam from classroom to classroom, seeking new ideas. It feels like a child’s sweaty palms as she overcomes her fear of public speaking and reads her poem aloud.

 

Continue Reading >>

DSC_0194

Want to make a difference in the lives of children? WITS is now looking for passionate, creative individuals to work with our team!

Positions currently available:

  • Program Coordinator (full-time)
  • Classroom Writer (part-time)
  • Communications Intern (part-time)

For more information and to apply please visit our Work for WITS page.

 

seasons-158601_1280

Nature all around

Birds chirping, flowers growing

Colors singing songs

by Jiho

 

Blazing hot weather

Sun rays flashing down on us

Summer is now here

by Hadi

 

In Autumn leaves fall,

And you breathe the cool crisp air

Then, our school begins

by Alexandria

 

Winter, a cold beast

Yet, gentle as a rabbit

Blanketing the ground

by Jiho

 

 

dog-1443468_640

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When times are tough, pick up a pencil

and write down your feelings and dreams.

When times are tough, believe that

things will get better.

When times are tough, pick some flowers

to give to a friend.

When times are tough, play with a

puppy, and you’ll feel better.

By Tasha, 4th Grade

dog-look-449955_1920

She’s half boxer, half French bulldog

She’s cuddly

She makes me laugh

Her head is soft

Her eyes are like dark chocolate

She barks too much

But I love her more than gold

by Jocelyn, age 6

by WITS Intern, Danielle Resh

IMG_3376

“What are you doing?” I ask a fourth grade student splayed across the floor, eyebrows furrowed in concentration as she studies her paper. The classroom hums with the sound of scratching pencils. Children buzz around writing stations, focused on their work.

“These are haiku blocks,” she says, opening her hand to reveal a collection of cubes. “Each side has a different word. You roll them and make a haiku out of the words they land on. Can you help me find ‘is’?”

As I bend down to search through the cubes, I sneak a peek at the first line that she has already placed down in front of her: Storm blows through the house.

Continue Reading >>

 

mermaid-1363682_640

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Toss glitter in the sea.

Get a mermaid tail of any color.

Loosen your hair

so it can get curly.

Stir pink on your dress.

Gather pink and white pearls

to make a mermaid city.

Use seashells for some pets.

Get some rocks for a house.

If I were a mermaid, I would be happy!

Minha, Patterson Elementary

by WITS Intern, Danielle Resh
DSC_0127
Two second graders bounce their handmade puppets around, transforming the slick hall of the cafeteria where students gather for pickup into their own little stage. To my left, a girl bends over her journal, furiously scribbling as she is called to head home. In front of me, a camper gestures animatedly to his camp intern, explaining the story he just wrote.

Carpool at Creative Writing Camp is unexpected yet wonderful proof of the magic of camp. It is a bustling time when all of the ideas that have been cooking in campers’ heads throughout the day bubble over in a kettle of chatter and excitement— so much excitement that campers barely hear their names being called when their parents arrive.

Continue Reading >>

sunflower-1495136_640Yellow looks like the sun shining in the sky.

Yellow sounds like a yellow bird cheeping.

I can smell yellow dandelions when they have their petals.

I can touch yellow banana peels.

I taste a yellow icing cupcake.

If yellow were a person, he would lie under the sun.

By Drake, Memorial Drive Elementary

winter-260838_640The tree is blowing its hair in the air

It has more than one arm, it has legs and hair

It doesn’t like to be cut down

The tree likes animals to hibernate inside it

The tree doesn’t like to be alone

He loves the animals

The tree is warm in the sun

By Addison, Lyons Elementary

IMG_5064

Join WITS on Saturday, July 9th, 2 pm as the Meta-Four Houston team gives their FREE farewell performance at the Live Oaks Meeting House on 26th Street in the Heights before jetting off to Washington, D.C. to perform at the Brave New Voices International Festival. Meta-Four Houston recently won first place in the state of Texas. Come check out these talented poets!

Date: July 9, 2016
Time: 2pm
Location: 1318 W 26th St Houston, TX 77008

 

 

powerful

The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) Graphic Design Research Initiative (GDRI) and Writers in the Schools (WITS) recently collaborated on a special project that featured WITS students and University of Houston graphic design students.  The GDRI students turned the children’s poems into graphic designs, using inspiration from various fields, including concrete poetry, expressive typography, and Dadaism. The visual poetry exhibition is currently on display in Houston’s City Hall Annex. Click here to read about this innovative project.