Six Ways of Looking at a Pepper

Posted April 4, 2018 & filed under Notebook, Poem, Poem of the Day, Student Writing.

 

I. I, the youngest jalapeño in the Godinich Garden, have seen exactly 70,562,712 dewdrops topple off my olive green leaves.

II. My predators above wait till my body is ripe enough to harvest and consume me for supper.

III. My leaves will shrivel to show I’m declining. A nip in the air shows no water, not even the freezing water the puffs in the air give.

IV. Daisies: good to see ya, rain has come and green peppers are sprouting on my bush.

V. When the sun heats up I tell a joke to Broccoli, my neighbor bush: “What do you do when you get angry? You wish rain would pour to cool your heat!”

VI. Hi, mouth. My name is now “Sausage Noodles with Jalapeños.”

By Julia, 3rd grade

Click the media player above to listen to the poem read on KPFT 90.1 by Tori, WITS Youth Advisory Council Student. The background music is “Sneaky Snitch” by Kevin MacLeod. incompetech.comProduced by Susan Phillips.

Poem a Day is made possible in part by H-E-B Tournament of Champions, Copy.com, The City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance, Texas Commission on the Arts, and KPFT 90.1.

 

Strange Place

Posted April 3, 2018 & filed under Notebook, Poem, Poem of the Day, Student Writing.

 

As vast sunbirds burn,
Mother Violin maps her lines.
The bizarre, dramatic, air-dive
changes my life, as design eyes
paint vivid pictures in my mind.
What a strange world.
What a strange world.
Invisible toes skip,
and waves follow them, too.
Hair waltz,
snow waltz,
Strange.
Breathtaking, fuzzy animals hike.
They hug, and kiss, live in autumn.
And luxurious, fragile, forests
Shimmer
Strange chocolate stars,
Strange, strange world.

By Isom, 3rd grade

Click the media player above to listen to the poem read on KPFT 90.1 by Ella, WITS Youth Advisory Council Student. The background music is “Port Horizon” by Kevin MacLeod, incompetech.comProduced by Susan Phillips.

Poem a Day is made possible in part by H-E-B Tournament of Champions, Copy.com, The City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance, Texas Commission on the Arts, and KPFT 90.1.

 

Deeply Rooted

Posted April 2, 2018 & filed under Notebook, Poem, Poem of the Day, Student Writing.

I am seed
I am small, but powerful
I am born of fire & water
of desert & ocean
of la tierra de los Aztecas y la jungla de Veraguas
Of parents with humble beginnings to give me
a beginning better than theirs
I am a tree trunk foundation
My foundation is divine, residing in God’s hands in heaven
and built on my mother’s passion & my father’s song
Music runs through my veins.
My crown is full of thoughts, hopes, & dreams
It has the memories of all the family I’ve had
Full of songs to be sung & dreams to be made
Full of light that reaches out to the universe
I am a majestic tree
My roots are Adonis, Flor, my grandparents, my aunts & uncles
They are as deep as the ocean, as high as the mountains
I am deeply rooted in my faith, my culture, mi gente, & my music
Nothing can uproot me

By Angela, 12th grade

Click the media player above to listen to the poem read on KPFT 90.1 by Jackson, WITS Youth Advisory Council Student. The background music is “Origins” by Ketsa freemusicarchives.orgProduced by Susan Phillips.

Poem a Day is made possible in part by H-E-B Tournament of Champions, Copy.com, The City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance, Texas Commission on the Arts, and KPFT 90.1.

 

2018 Adroit Journal Summer Mentorship Program

Posted March 28, 2018 & filed under Contest, Event, News, Notebook, Student Writing.

A perfect opportunity for high school students to work one-on-one with a professional writer! Deadline to apply is May 1st.

Now in its sixth year, The Adroit Journal’s Summer Mentorship Program is an entirely free and online program that pairs experienced writers with high school and secondary students (as of the current academic year) interested in learning more about the creative writing processes of drafting, redrafting and editing. The 2018 program will cater to the literary genres of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. The aim of the mentorship program is not formalized instruction, but rather an individualized, flexible, and often informal correspondence. Poetry mentorship students will share weekly work with mentors and peers, while prose mentorship students will share biweekly work with mentors and peers.

We are very proud of our alumni. Students have subsequently been recognized through the National YoungArts Foundation & United States Presidential Scholar in the Arts designation, the National Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, and the Foyle Young Poet of the Year Awards, among a plethora of others.

The 2018 Adroit Journal Summer Mentorship Program will last from June 24th until August 4th. Applications for the 2018 Summer Mentorship Program will be open until May 1st.

Learn more about the Adriot Journal Summer Mentorship Program here.

Apply to the Adriot Journal Summer Mentorship Program here.

Mother’s Life

Posted March 20, 2018 & filed under Poem, Poem of the Day, Student Writing.

Lizards skitter around my feet

A bee sings its song and sips from a sunflower

Gravel crunches under my sandals

Flowers of all colors flutter through the air

Grass tickles my ankles

Twigs snap as I stroll

Mud begins to coat the rubber of my shoes

Even dead logs are swimming with life

Hammocks sway in the light breeze

Trees shakily reach for the sky

Sunlight is scattered in the trees

A caterpillar munches on leaves

Nature flows through me

 

-Livi B., 7th grade

Poetic Questionnaire for Valentine’s Day

Posted February 13, 2018 & filed under mentor text, Poem, Student Writing.

Why?

 

1. Why do I always __________ ?

A. Fall in love
B. Fall for the wrong one
C. Sleep
D. Cry

 

2. Why am I always ___________ ?

A. Getting hurt
B. Crying
C. Catching feelings fast
D. Stressed

 

3. Why didn’t he ___________ ?

A. Tell me
B. Show me
C. Love me
D. Love me like he said

 

4. Why are there __________ boys?

A. Unfaithful
B. Stupid
C. Lying
D. Cheating

 

5. Why can’t we just ____________ ?

A. Be together
B. Work it out
C. Love each other
D. Stay together

 

by Dariana, 8th grade

Spend Saturday mornings with WITS at Discovery Green!

Posted January 19, 2018 & filed under Event, free Houston event, Notebook, Student Writing, WITS People.

With fun and interactive writing activities to spark the imagination, the Young Writers Workshop helps children develop their language and creativity skills. Each workshop features two WITS writers. Each participant receives one-on-one interaction and feedback.

Held Saturdays at the Houston Public Library Express location at Discovery Green from 10:30 AM – 11:30 AM, the workshop is FREE. Space is first-come, first serve and limited to the first 25 students.

 

Meet the WITS Writers

 

Dottie Price taught for more than thirty years and was a literacy coach in the Houston Independent School District. She is ESL and GT certified, with extensive training and experience in writers and readers workshop and the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program. Dottie created the Elders Songwriting Project, a 20- year collaboration between elementary school students and retirement home residents in which students have written 246 tribute songs for Elder interviewees. She enjoys writing songs, as well as articles that share stories and ideas from the classroom and beyond.

 

James Hershberger is an award-winning writer, comedian, musician, slam poet, and actor. He graduated with honors from Texas Tech University with degrees in Creative Writing and Political Science. He has performed live all over the U.S. as well as in Europe and Asia. In 2013, he was a member of the Houston V.I.P. Slam Team, winning 2nd place in Group Piece Finals at the National Poetry Slam in Boston. James is a volunteer teacher of a weekly creative writing workshop for the homeless.

 

K.C. Sinclair is a fellow in Fiction and Screenwriting at the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas at Austin. Her short works have appeared in the Texas Observer and the New Guard Literary Journal. She has been a finalist for the Master’s Review New Writers’ Competition, the Glimmer Train New Fiction Prize, and New Letter’s Short Story Award. Before her MFA, she was an elementary school teacher and vice principal for ten years. She left that beloved career to pursue a lifelong dream to write. Now, she lives in a Mont Belvieu with her husband, adorable dog, and self-absorbed kitty, and is working on a novel set in Houston about a group of four friends who have dreams of becoming astronauts. K.C. also teaches writing at Lee College in Baytown.

Fire

Posted January 5, 2018 & filed under Notebook, Public Poetry, Student Writing.

I am fire in the wind.

One little spark can ignite the entire world.

The air crisp and smokey,

the fire big and beautiful.

I am that wildfire,

spreading like gossip in teen girls’ hands.

My ways of life are dangerous; I lunge from tree to tree,

It takes 1,000,000 people to slow down my fiery reign of terror.

The outcome of my worldwide scare is poor.

I leave people with almost nothing to live on.

But with pain

comes beauty,

and I watch as friends and family, mountains and trees

gather together

to build the world up again.

I am not all bad

for my flames create opportunities

to get stronger, more powerful.

I can transform the weakest squirrel into the strongest lion.

When my destruction ends, I am exhausted.

I tell myself that my wildfire is a warning.

My silent, screaming message: stay alert.

Another fire is coming.

I am the fire in the wind, ready to ignite.

 

By Irene, 6th grade

 

>> Join us for Public Poetry this Saturday, January 6th, 2 pm at the Jungman Branch (5830 Westheimer Road, Houston, TX 77057) of the Houston Public Library. WITS student, Irene, will be reading alongside Robin Reagler, Corinna Delgado, Amanda Ortiz, and Miranda Mahoney. This event is FREE and open to the public. <<

Original post: 10/15/2017

 

Christmas Tree Tradition

Posted December 29, 2017 & filed under Notebook, Poem, Student Writing.

 

The tree,

Alone,

Standing in the corner

The middle of May

Five months past

Christmas

Me

My sister

Begging for the tree to stay

A bit more

 

It looks so graceful.

It almost feels as if

The tree

My family

We’re all glowing

A deep soft warm

Yellow shimmer

In the spirit of Christmas,

Of all the holidays.

 

So now in the Kim family

It’s a tradition to

Keep the shimmering

Holiday

Spiritful tree

Until March

Or May

To keep the taste of

Christmas cookies

For the pine scent

To linger in the air

With us.

 

by Gayeon, age 10

Found

Posted December 22, 2017 & filed under mentor text, Notebook, Poem, Student Writing.

 

A nine-year old girl

Face light and smiling

Yet a line of regret on her face

Rushing to hug her mommy

Laughing and laughing and laughing

Because she is so relieved

In the bright and beautiful

shine of the sun

A mother asking, shouting,

“Where have you been?”

In the familiar light

Of her home.

 

by Jiho, age 9

Ekphrasis

Posted December 14, 2017 & filed under Notebook, Student Writing.

Run. Run and hide from the world and reality. Run until you are free of this world, of this place of laws and truths. Run until you find a place where anything could happen: the Narnia in your closet. Escape from judgement and the restrictions that come with it.

Embrace the darkness, the morbidity. Let the shadows spill over the wet, black earth. Allow the wolves inside and let them rip up the house. Let the child run away, and then what? What next? Well, that’s your choice. My choice. Anyone’s choice.

Never lose hope. The sun always comes up, until it doesn’t. The world spins until it doesn’t exist.

No judgement, no limits. Not once the writing starts.

 

by Carson, 8th grade

On This Porch

Posted December 12, 2017 & filed under Lesson Plan, Notebook, Student Writing.

 

On my parents’ porch, I feel a gust of air as I walk out the screen door. Am I hot? Am I cold? No. I am just right.  But even here, there’s a twisted feeling in my gut, my long lost dog sits in ashes on the top shelf of my parents’ desk. The screen door separates me from the air conditioning and the wild weather.

 

I rest my arms and elbows on the eleven-year-old railing and look down at the ditch under our driveway.  I used to catch tadpoles there.  On this porch I hear the waves beating on each other, the waves I body surfed on all afternoon.  My childhood flashes before me. Blink! All the memories of my siblings, preschool, my friends and cousins.

 

I look behind and see the little gray table with the tall chairs where my parents come to talk. I could sit on this porch for the rest of my life, listening to the waves.  I feel at peace thinking of my first friend, my dog, my childhood, what I felt as a baby.

 

All the responsibilities which I have now will only increase in high school, college, and adulthood. I feel all my life again and again in a matter of seconds, though I have had ten long years on earth.

 

I may not be old, but I have seen more than I think is humanly possibly.  On this porch I am all I’ve been, all at the same time, even in my dreams.  It is nothing but a miracle.

 

by Ryan, 4th grade

Playground

Posted November 27, 2017 & filed under mentor text, Notebook, Student Writing.

The trees sway in the wind, dancing upon our eyes. The joy-filled kids swarm past us like a flock of angry geese. The mud bestows heavy layers of stains at the tips of my shoes, leaving them with a brown bumpy concoction. The blades of grass at my feet tickle my toes, while the mulch does its job and makes the grass disappear. The fresh air roars through my skin, making its way into the roots of my hair. The sweat forms on my skin like rain in a thunderstorm, the warmth of the sun works its way down to the tips of my toes, to the roots of my fingernails. The pasty wind runs through my nostrils, leaving me with a sudden surge of cold. The creaks of the monkey bars crack through my ears, as love-filled kids rock upon them. The shrieks of laughter reach my ears like a mighty roar of thunder. The teachers happily talk to one another as if just meeting an old friend. The birds chirp above us sitting on trees stuffed to the brim with leaves. The playground is a place that makes any visitor feel free.

By Ella, 4th grade

A Hungry Dog at Thanksgiving

Posted November 21, 2017 & filed under mentor text, Poem, Student Writing.

If I were the dog, at Thanksgiving I would say:

That chopped liver smells good.
I hope they drop some turkey.
I want to taste that.
I think I see dessert.
This is so noisy.
When is it going to be over?
I think I like everything here.
I will just jump on the table.
Ooooooooh cake.
I can fly like a bird. Whee!
I am invincible like a zombie.
Splat! Sorry about that.
Darn, that was strawberry icing.

 

By Benjamin, 2nd grade

from the WITS archives, 2010

Nadiyah’s Island of Cats

Posted October 20, 2017 & filed under Fiction, Notebook, Student Writing.

If I had my very own island, it would be near Hawaii. What makes my island special is the fact that it has all the cats in the world. My mom, sister, grandparents, aunt and baby cousin live there. (No boys allowed, except for my grandfather.)

My island has crystal blue water and white beaches. Coconut trees, pineapple trees, palm trees, and banana trees cover the island. Cat toys and cats cover the island. The island is 1,000 miles long and 1,000 miles wide (so we and the cats have enough space.) We each have our own two-story house. There is a 100 miles long and 100 miles wide island connecting to our island. It has plants growing. All the types of fruits and vegetables in the world grow on them. A large cellar under the ground stores all the food. There is also a pool if we get hot.

Gardeners collect ripe fruits and vegetables every day. Then, chefs cook a meal with the bountiful harvest. They set the table in the dining hall and serve us our meal. We also have a garden filled with all the flowers in the world and a smaller garden filled with herbs and spices. We have a tiny spa just in case we strain our backs or our nails get damaged, especially for our gardeners. There are vets if the cats get sick. We have our very own hospital if we get hurt, too. My island is awesome.

by Nadiyah, 4th grade

(photo from pixabay.com)

Minute Maid Park

Posted October 13, 2017 & filed under Event, Notebook, Poem, Student Writing.

 

Minute Maid

Saturday!

Five forty five  A.M.

Screaming, booming

Jose Altuve, Orbit, Carlos Correa

Play games, eat ice-cream

Two months!

Happy.

by Anthony,  2nd grade

Texas Teen Book Festival Hits Austin on October 7th

Posted October 3, 2017 & filed under Event, News, Press, Student Writing, WITS People.

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.

WITS student Pearl R. is a Houston-based member of the BookPeople Teen Press Corps. Check out this post she’s written to encourage readers and writers to attend the festival in Austin on Saturday.

Calling all writers, readers, and lovers of kiwi!

 

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

Houston

Posted September 22, 2017 & filed under Notebook, Poem, Student Writing, WITS People.

Summer melting

into Fall

a perfect morning

letting the wind

wash over you

on the porch.

Lime Ice

reminds you

that the sweaty

days are over.

You enter

the realm

of cool breezes.

Gleeful children

run through

the streets

laughing,

returning home

to dinner,

garden fresh.

 

by Lila, 5th grade

WITS Student Writes Poem of Hope to the City of Houston

Posted August 30, 2017 & filed under News, Notebook, Poem, Student Writing.

This morning, we received a touching gift – a poem written by one of our Writers in the Schools (WITS) students, Eshaan.

Eshaan, a 6th grader, crafted this poem during the course of his family’s journey through Harvey, and offers it up to the city of Houston as a way of bringing everyone together with words of hope.

Starting this week, WITS is volunteering at shelters to help more of our young neighbors tell their stories, because storytelling is healing, and we are #houstonstrong.

Hurricane Harvey: A Terrifying Tempest

Daily gales gossip of terror,
And tornadoes clone as if in infinite mirrors,
God watches over us though,
And as the winds blow,
He oversees,
Cities turning into seas.

I feel helpless,
As I pray for victims’ wellness.
Distraught and crying,
Kin of victims sighing,
Why is Mother Nature so cruel?

One minute there is sunrise,
The next moment you hear cries,
Young babies,
Old ladies,
All trapped in this haplessness.

A second Noah’s Ark,
God tells us to hark!
Batten down the hatches,
And as He snaps trees like matches,
Remember we are all one.

As bombs explode,
And tears flow,
Those on cloud seven,
Come down from heaven.
As barrages fire,
All unite in this horrid quagmire.

As we come together,
We will remake Houston for the better.
Resurrection is impossible,
But together we make it possible.
Harvey left distraught in his wake,
Many a person who stay awake.
If we unite as one,
We can get rebuilding done.

Neighbors help neighbors,
And the common man labors.
The hand hardened from oaring,
Helpful souls soaring.
911 is overworked,
As residents do their tornado homework.

We must pray,
And not stray,
Stay calm and strong,
For I believe God will see us through this storm.

By Eshaan

Death

Posted August 5, 2017 & filed under mentor text, Notebook, Poem, Student Writing.

Death is not

a tall figure dressed

in black.

It doesn’t have an intimidating

black cloak

or a skull for a face,

and it doesn’t bear a scythe to kill you.

We shouldn’t have to see Death as

this monster,

this scary,

violent,

ruthless

monster.

Maybe if we saw

Death

in a different light, not as a scary

entity, but as a small

but strong,

kitten

with dark–but not black–fur

and large, white, caring eyes,

we wouldn’t be so afraid

when Death crawls into our laps

to take us away.

 

by Cheyenne, 7th grade