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.
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!
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 »
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. 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. 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 »
Calling 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 »
BIG NEWS! WITS and Histrionix Learning Company have submitted a proposal to SXSWedu PanelPicker and YOU have a chance to help us spread the word about Digital Storytelling! Just click on the link below, login or sign up with facebook and VOTE!
Vote for WITS now! >>
by WITS Writer, Lesa Boutin
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 >>
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
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 >>
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.
Nature all around
Birds chirping, flowers growing
Colors singing songs
Blazing hot weather
Sun rays flashing down on us
Summer is now here
In Autumn leaves fall,
And you breathe the cool crisp air
Then, our school begins
Winter, a cold beast
Yet, gentle as a rabbit
Blanketing the ground
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
She’s half boxer, half French bulldog
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
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
Yellow 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
The 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
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.
The mast shakes.
The sail is taut and motionless.
As the wind howls, people yell.
I’m hit in the face with icy sea water. People go down and get back up.
I look over the edge of the ship and see something tap.
I look up and hope to god I’m not the only one that sees it:
a giant blue eye looking down in wonder.
By Max, 8th Grade
Captain, take me on a ride
to a place so wonderful as I hear the
horn honk hard.
It feels like a day when you’re eating your
favorite dish for dinner.
The water vibrating through the boat
as we drive through the Seven Seas.
No matter how long it takes, I want
to go to the boat. I’ll go
No matter what.
Captain, go faster,
I want to feel the breeze.
by Kevin, 3rd grade
Bring a book
Write a story
Live a life
Travel around the world
Explore the forests
Swim the seas
Fly the skies
Try new things
Collect rare treasures
Create new things
Sketch a new world
Ride a dragon
Climb a mountain
Walk on a cloud
Swing through treetops
Help your family
Comfort your friends
Be a kind person
Hold life in your hands
Live in hope
Do all this
Just in case
by Virginia, 5th grade