Five forty five A.M.
Jose Altuve, Orbit, Carlos Correa
Play games, eat ice-cream
by Anthony, 2nd grade
Five forty five A.M.
Jose Altuve, Orbit, Carlos Correa
Play games, eat ice-cream
by Anthony, 2nd grade
The Texas Teen Book Festival brings nationally known YA authors from across the nation for readings, writing workshops by WITS’ sister program Badgerdog, and even a literary costume contest. Participants in the FREE event will get to meet Renee Watson, Jason Reynolds, Marie Lu, Adam Silvera, Jennifer Mathieu, and many more.
Join us at the Texas Teen Book Festival in Austin, Texas, on October 7th, 2017. Yup, that’s this weekend, so I suggest that you get packing.
You will not want to miss this glorious occasion that The New York Times calls “life-changing and more fun than Wisconsin’s annual cheese-eating contest.”
(Editor’s note: The New York Times never said that and I’m pretty sure we’re going to be sued now.)
This festival features all your favorite YA authors! Some of them came willingly, and some of them we had to smoke out of their houses with firecrackers. We’re going to show these authors some Texas love, which means slathering them in barbecue sauce and putting them on a mechanical bull while they read opening lines from their books. Get ready for some fun!
In addition to lots of readings and book signings, there will be a literary costume contest and free writing workshops. The grand finale will be a Lord of the Flies inspired pig-hunting contest where the winner gets $10,000 cash!
(Editor’s note: This is why we shouldn’t let teens write for our blog. Seriously, I have no idea what this kid was thinking.)
By Pearl R
At 7 p.m. on Sunday, half an hour before the Meta-Four Houston vs. Houston VIP Send-Off Slam was set to begin, the performance space at Midtown Arts & Theater Center Houston (MATCH) was already nearly full of families, friends, and fans awaiting an evening of pulse-pounding, breathtaking poetry.
The Send-Off Slam, part of a yearly slate of events leading up to Meta-Four Houston’s journey to Brave New Voices International, is more family reunion than competition. It’s a chance for Houston V.I.P., the nationally acclaimed adult slam team, to give their blessing and best wishes to the youth of Meta-Four. With many former members of Meta-Four going on to join Houston V.I.P. as adults, the collaboration serves to cultivate the next generation of gifted slam poets and grow Houston’s poetry scene year by year.
When all the performing team members and judges were in place, Emanuelee “Outspoken” Bean, head coach of this year’s Meta-Four team and the DJ/emcee/scorekeeper of the night, kicked off the event with an introduction to the roots of slam poetry and an explanation of the slam’s format before volunteering himself as the “sacrificial poet,” the first performer of the night to brave the judges’ evaluations and the audience’s reactions.
After a joking round of all ones (with a single nine) for the sacrificial poet, the competition began in earnest. First up was Meta-Four, performing a searing group poem about school shootings and America’s seeming indifference to gun violence. Next, Houston V.I.P. sent up a single team member whose voice trembled with emotion as she performed a poem comparing black lives ended too soon to flowers ripped from the ground before being given a chance to fully bloom.
With each round came individual and group poems from both teams that covered a wide range of personal and political themes: “problem kids” in school, human trafficking in Houston, fears and phobias, and self-defining success in the face of personal challenges. The collection of performances had viewers in spellbound silence, peals of laughter, and most of all, full of shouts and snaps.
The judges were tough, and as is tradition in the slam world, audience members were quite vocal in reacting to the judges’ scores. Only one poem received not just one, but multiple scores of ten out of ten: MetaFour’s “Kill Bill,” a haunting poem about the daughter left behind in the wake of Philando Castille’s murder, and the irony of fictional characters receiving justice that real-life victims do not. The final tally was close, with only seven-tenths of a point difference, but Meta-Four emerged victorious.
This year’s send-off held a special significance, coming at the ten year mark for Meta-Four. The youth slam team was founded in 2007 by Shannon Buggs, a member of the WITS Board of Directors, after her first visit to Brave New Voices International. In the ten years since, the program has grown and evolved with collaboration from WITS Executive Director Robin Reagler, Houston Poet Laureate and former WITS Special Programs Manager Deborah DEEP Mouton, Meta-Four Coordinator Emanuelee “Outspoken” Bean, and Sixto Wagan. Director of the University of Houston Center for Art & Social Engagement. In addition, Brave New Voices International celebrates its twentieth anniversary this year, and in the slam’s inaugural documentary-style podcast, Meta-Four will be one of three teams followed on their journey through the competition.
As the Meta-Four team jets off to San Francisco today, with their pockets full of poems and the wind of past successes at their backs, we here at WITS send our best wishes for an unforgettable Brave New Voices experience and look forward to ten more brilliant years from the bright burning star that is Meta-Four.
by Willow Curry
Our June camps are over, but it’s not too late to sign up for July programs. Check out our site!
Houston students can sign up for the summer reading program offered by the Houston Public Library. Reading is always a fun adventure, and through this program you can also win prizes.Registration begins on June 1st, 2017. The program continues until August 1st, 2017. Find out more here.
WITS Communications Strategist Analicia Sotelo will read from her new chapbook, Nonstop Godhead, on Friday 7pm at Brazos Bookstore. She will be joined by WITS Board Member Roberto Tejada and WITS Writer Beth Lyons. Nonstop Godhead recently won a fellowship award from the Poetry Society of America. It was selected by Rigoberto Gonzalez. Sotelo’s first full-length book, Virgin, will be published by Milkweed Editions in 2018. It is the winner of the Inaugural Jake Adam York Prize.
April is National Poetry Month, and U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera will make a special Houston visit on Wednesday, April 19th. Herrera is the son of migrant farmers. He has published 30 books in his illustrious career, and he was named the first Mexican-American U.S. Poet Laureate in 2015. The University of Houston – Downtown will host this performance and discussion in the Robertson Auditorium at 5:30 pm. The event is free, and the public is invited to attend.
This Sunday 1/15/17 in over 70 US cities, writers will gather to speak out for equity and justice, as part of a movement called #WritersResist. To represent the Houston community, Houston poets and writers of diverse backgrounds will come together to share messages of peace, democracy, unity, and hope. The diversity of our city, the solidarity among its writers, and the power of the written and spoken word are at the center of these readings.
Houston has planned two events–
2) #WritersResist Houston: “Let Us Gather” – on Jan. 20th, 7-9 pm at St. Paul’s Houston (5501 Main at Binz/Bissonnet 77004)
For more information, click here.
WITS will be represented by Robin Reagler, Outspoken Bean, Deboroah DEEP Mouton, Fareena Arafeen, and several others. Please join us for both of these inspiring free events.
When: Saturday, January 21 at 4 PM – 6 PM
Soapbox Youth Nonfiction Slam
Date: December 3, 2016
Location: Morris Frank Library | 10103 Fondren Rd, Houston, TX 77035
Join the WITS Youth Advisory Council on Saturday, December 3rd, at 2pm at the Morris Frank Library for the Soapbox Nonfiction Slam. This event is free and open to youth ages 13-19. Bring your most interesting holiday story to share (5 minutes max) and wear your best holiday sweater. Prizes for the best stories!
RSVP to email@example.com
When I’m old enough to vote,
I’m going to vote with my feet,
my head, my heart, my voice,
my thoughts, my dreams.
I’m going to vote like I mean it.
By Ni’cole, 4th grade
#NaNoWriMo sounds like nonsense, right? But it’s a real thing — November is National Novel Writing Month — and there’s a version of the project retooled especially for young writers and their teachers. You can think of NaNoWriMo as a boot camp to help writers at any level produce a first draft of a novel in 30 days. Participation is free and so much fun. Check out the Young Writers Project.
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!
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.
Join us Friday, June 10th at 6:30pm for a special performance by WITS’ Meta-Four Houston team at Barnes & Noble First Colony’s B-Fest Teen Book Festival. This special performance will be followed by Trivia Blast at 7pm, created by Penguin Teen and Random House’s First In Line, who will send one winner in every store advance reader’s copies* of the most anticipated new teen books. *Advance reader’s copies will be preselected by the publisher. Join us for this evening of fun and check out Barnes & Noble’s page for more teen events that weekend.
Spend an evening with WITS on Thursday, June 2nd, 6-10pm for Mid Main’s First Thursday event. There will be live music, performances, art shows, tasty drinks and appetizer specials. A $5 donation will give guests access to the Art Garden and drinks from Topo Chico, St. Arnold, and Deep Eddy. Proceeds will benefit WITS and help us bring the WITS creative writing program to more Houston children!
Location: 3700 Main Street 77002
Writers in the Schools (WITS) Houston and our awesome sister programs from across the nation will be attending #AWP16 the AWP Conference in Los Angeles later this week. If you have ever thought that your city, town, or community could use a program like WITS, we hope you will join us in LA for some great conversations.
In the Bookfair, you can find us in Booth #1001. We will have some cool writer stuff to give away! Our membership meeting — which is open to newcomers as well, will be on Friday, April 1st:
10:30 am to 11:45 am @ Room 506, LA Convention Center
And WITS will host six different panels, which are listed on the WITS Alliance website. Panelists will include Jen Benka, Lacy Johnson, Janine Joseph, James Kass, and Renee Watson. Please join us in LA!
Three former WITS Writers – Tiphanie Yanique, Kimberly Meyer, and Lauren Berry — will be the featured writers at the Boldface Conference for Emerging Writers in May 2016. Here’s more information from the conference website:
Glass Mountain Magazine and the University of Houston
Are Pleased to Announce
The 2016 Boldface Conference for Emerging Writers
Houston, TX, February 8, 2016
Accepting applications now for early-bird pricing on registration, the eighth annual Boldface Conference for Emerging Writers will take place at the University of Houston, Houston, TX, May 23-27, 2016.
During May 23-27, undergraduate and emerging writers both locally and nationwide will attend a week-long conference at the M.D. Andersen Library at University of Houston. The week will be filled with writing workshops, craft talks, professional panels, readings, evening events around the city, and private consultations with the 2016 Visiting Writers:
Tiphanie Yanique (fiction), Land of Love and Drowning (Penguin) and How to Escape from a Leper Colony (Graywolf)
Kimberly Meyer (nonfiction), The Book of Wanderings (Little, Brown)
Lauren Berry (poetry), The Lifting Dress (National Poetry Series, Penguin)
The Boldface Conference is open to any writer who has not yet published a book or enrolled in an MFA or PhD program in Creative Writing. Early-bird pricing is available on conference registration at the low cost of $195. Regular registration pricing will begin on March 21st.
The conference is largely funded via Glass Mountain Magazine’s annual Write-a-Thon and through support from the Oppenheim Foundation and the University of Houston English Department. Additional support is welcome: http://boldfaceconference.com/write-a-thon/
More about Boldface: Boldface registration includes daily group workshops and master classes with Boldface faculty from the top-ranked University of Houston Graduate Creative Writing Program, craft talks and readings by the award-winning Visiting Writers, optional field trips, and daily breakfast and lunch. Transportation to events is provided by volunteers. For traveling writers, housing is available at the university at a low cost. Manuscript consultations with the Visiting Writers is an additional option.
For questions, interviews, donations, or additional information, please contact Matthew Salesses at boldfaceconference@gmailcom.
Join us Friday, March 11th, 6pm for a special Orbit Slam event at the Los Trompos installation at Discovery Green. There will be a DJ, performances by Meta-Four Houston and special guest Desiree Dallagiacomo taking place inside Los Trompos (spinning tops), a beautiful, colorful interactive installation.
This event is FREE and open to the public. No registration required.