Meta-Four Houston Celebrates 10th Year

Posted July 20, 2017 & filed under Event, News, Public Poetry.


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

Analicia Sotelo’s Houston Reading 5/27/17

Posted May 25, 2017 & filed under Event, free Houston event, News, WITS People.

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.

Fiction Writing Contest for Young Texans

Posted May 6, 2017 & filed under Contest, Fiction, News.

The Annual Fresh Ink Writing Contest is now accepting submissions. Texas students in middle and high school may apply.

Here’s some information from their site:

Winners receive a cash prize: $250 for first place, $100 for second, and $50 for third. In addition, winners are awarded a plaque, have their stories published on the TBF website, and are invited to participate on a panel during the Texas Book Festival weekend. Entries must be 2,000 words or less, 12 point type, double-spaced, and related to the 2017 Fresh Ink Fiction Contest theme: “Funny Running Into You Here.”

Read the complete guidelines before applying. The submissions are due June 1st, 2017.

U.S. Poet Laureate To Visit Houston

Posted April 17, 2017 & filed under Event, free Houston event, News, Public Poetry.

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.

 

 

Soapbox Youth Nonfiction Slam

Posted December 1, 2016 & filed under Contest, Event, free Houston event, News, Student Writing.

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Date: December 3, 2016
Time: 2pm
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 soapboxslamstories@gmail.com

FREE

Happy National Novel Writing Month!

Posted November 1, 2016 & filed under Contest, Event, free Houston event, News, Notebook, Student Writing.

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#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.

Send-Off for Meta-Four Team!

Posted July 8, 2016 & filed under Event, free Houston event, News, Student Writing, WITS People.

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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

 

 

Visual Poetry Exhibition Featuring WITS Students on Display

Posted July 6, 2016 & filed under Event, News, Notebook, Poem, Press, Student Writing.

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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.

Mid-Main Festival Proceeds to Benefit WITS

Posted May 24, 2016 & filed under Event, free Houston event, News, WITS People.

 

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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

Cost: FREE

 

Dear Poet 2016

Posted April 15, 2016 & filed under Contest, News.

It’s National Poetry Month, and students in grades 5-12 are invited to enter the Dear Poet Competition this April. Students respond in the form to one of a select group of poetry videos, including the one above by Juan Felipe Herrera, the US Poet Laureate.To enter, email your letter to dearpoet@poets.org by April 30, 2016. Winners will be published on the poets.org website in May.

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Poetry Contest | Bayou Preservation Association

Posted April 13, 2016 & filed under Contest, News, Notebook, Poem, Student Writing.

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Middle and high school students from the surrounding Houston area are invited to participate in the 2016 Watershed Awareness Student Contest! The theme is Our Bayous, Our Pollution. Houston- area bayous and waterways lead to Galveston Bay in turn affecting the Gulf of Mexico and its Flower Garden Banks. Help raise awareness about our local watershed and bring attention to the importance of the health of our local waterways, bayous and our bay! We challenge you to research, explore, interpret and say something meaningful about the connections between human activity and the health of our bayous and ocean through art or shape poetry.

Download the complete contest details here >>

Happy writing!

Grocery Poems

Posted April 10, 2016 & filed under News.

What if food could talk? During April WITS showcases food-themed poems written by Houston students, reaching 600,000 customers at four H-E-B markets: Montrose, Buffalo Speedway, Bunker Hill, and San Felipe. So, as customers pick through apples, they read poems about apples. These students words make shopping a unique experience at H-E-B! The grocery poem project is made possible by H-E-B Tournament of Champions, Copy.com, and the City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance.

 

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Work for WITS | Summer Internships

Posted March 3, 2016 & filed under News.

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Writers in the Schools is looking for enthusiastic college students to join our team of interns this summer. These exciting and rewarding positions will work alongside writers and teachers to get youth excited about writing.

Internships begin June 1st, 2016. Both full-time and part-time positions are available. Applicants must be enrolled in a college or university and be 18 years of age or older.

Please visit our Work for WITS page for more info and to apply >>

 

 

 

 

Sign Up for 2015 Common Ground Teachers Institute

Posted May 6, 2015 & filed under Event, News.

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WITS will sponsor two courses being offered at the 2015 Common Ground Teachers institute that will be held from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. June 26 – July 10. For more information about this innovative institute, click here. Teachers who submit a reservation by May 31st (extended to June 10th) will be offered a place in one of this summer’s Common Ground seminars. After June 10th, participants will be added on a first-come, first-served basis until each seminar is filled. Please contact Keri Myrick with any questions.

Apply for the 2015 seminars here.

Writers’ Conference April 10th & 11th in Houston!

Posted April 10, 2015 & filed under Event, News, WITS People.

Register TODAY for HBU’s 3rd annual Writers’ Conference in Houston, Texas

April 10 & 11, 2015 on the campus of Houston Baptist University

WITS Writers Elizabeth Keel, Dulcie David, and Maryann Gremillion with Sandra Campbell from Houston Grand Opera will present dynamic, interactive workshops on Saturday. 

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Keynote Address:

An Evening with Scott Cairns: A Reading and a Yammering

Friday, April 10, 7:00 pm, at Belin Chapel on the campus of Houston Baptist University.

In this address, Scott Cairns — Guggenheim fellow, Dennis Levertov Award recipient, librettist, anthologist, and multi-award-winning author of numerous books of poetry and nonfiction — will read a selection of his work and talk about the writer’s/artist’s vocation.

 

See Register NOW! Page

  • Standard Registration is $35, which includes lunch Saturday.
  • Continuing Professional Education (CPE) Registration is $75, which includes lunch Saturday and 5.25 Continuing Professional Education hours.
  • HBU Students, Faculty, and Staff Registration is free – lunch is not included with the HBU-affiliate registration.

Complimentary notebooks, pens, coffee, tea, and water will be provided for everyone.

Individuals are responsible to reserve their own accommodations. Please see the Hotel Information link for more information.

 

Original post: March 13, 2015

 

Calling Poets in Grades 7-12!

Posted March 31, 2015 & filed under Contest, News, Poem, Student Writing.

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A personal invitation from Flashbang! Writing Studio, which is seeking poetry by students in grades 7-12 for publication on its website during April, National Poetry Month:

As participants in NaPoWriMo, Flashbang!’s Sarah and Jeff are writing and posting a poem a day for the month of April. But we want more! We want your poems. Send us your love poems, hate poems, pet poems, unicorn poems, football poems, name poems, video poems, macro poems, gif poems, breakfast-lunch-and dinner poems.

Come back to the blog every day in April for a new writing prompt and at least one new poem. Note: The poems you submit do not have to be based on the prompts we publish. If they are, that’s awesome! Let us know! But more important than following our prompts is writing something you love. Send us what you love.

All poems accepted for publication on the blog will also be considered for publication in the inaugural issue of KaPow!, Flashbang!’s creative writing zine, scheduled for May publication. If your poem is published, you’ll receive a free copy of the zine. Additional copies will be available for $5, and all proceeds will benefit the Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council. (Want to raise more money for GPLC? Learn more about and register for our Poem-A-Thon here: http://www.flashbangwritingstudio.com/poem-a-thon/)

To submit: Send an email with your poem attached as a Word document or just pasted into the body of the email to flashbangwritingATgmailDOTcom. Please include your name, age, and school name in your submission. (School names will not be published unless you explicitly ask us to do so.) Let us know where you heard about us, too. Deadline for consideration for KaPow! and the NaPoWriMo celebrations is 4/25. BUT we will still consider poems on a rolling basis after that deadline for publication on the blog.

WITS Leaders Present at Leadership in the Arts Summit

Posted March 24, 2015 & filed under Event, News, WITS People.

Join WITS Executive Director Robin Reagler and WITS Board Member Shannon Buggs at the 2015 Leadership in the Arts Summit! Look below for information about how to register for this informative and inspiring event.

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April 6, 2015
Student Center Ballroom
9:30 – 5pm
Registration opens at 8:30am,
program begins at 9:30

Free – registration required

The upcoming Summit focuses on the best practices and ramifications of audience engagement initiatives that move the arts from a transactional exchange to a long-term stewardship model.   With the shifts in demographics, technology, funding streams and an increase in “competition,” many organizations nation-wide are attempting a broader array of tools to engage audiences.  Efforts range from increased artist engagement, marketing efforts, technology-initiatives, and advisory groups and special event programming. These initiatives call for new competencies, new levels of partnership and working outside of comfort zones.

The day will be moderated by Dr. Paul Bonin-Rodriguez who gave the opening keynote at last year’s summit.

The presentations will be livestreamed for an online audience.

Logistics: Directions & Parking – via GoogleMaps.

The 2015 Leadership in the Arts Summit is sponsored by the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences and the UH Arts initiative with support from the UH Center for Public History Lecture Series and the Houston Endowment.