I Love You

Posted April 15, 2019 & filed under Notebook.

I Love You
I love you so much that I eat thousands of hearts.
I love you so much that I talk to butterflies.
I love you so much that flowers bloom when I pass by.
I love you so much that my soul changes color.
I love you so much that I cry chunks of rainbow.
I love you so much that I’m a fish.

By Evelyn, 1st Grade

 

WITS Alliance at AWP 2019

Posted April 12, 2019 & filed under Notebook.

AWP 2019 was a huge success! We had so much fun connecting with WITS Alliance members, hosting and attending dynamic panels and readings, and meeting writers from across the country. See some highlights from our time in Portland below!

Panel highlights:

  • Literary Changemakers: Representation & Visibility in the Writing World

Panelists: Tina Cane, Suzi Garcia, Natalie Lima, Eloisa Amezcua, Justin Jannise

Natalie Lima talking about ways that University of Arizona helped increase diversity to 65% of writers of color–how we can’t consider race without class, and how the program established a scholarship for first generation college graduates.

  • Poets Vs. Poets: Dismantling the Bias Against Performance Poetry

Panelists: Monica Prince, Paul Tran, Safia Elhillo, Denice Frohman, Bill Moran

“Slam is a team sport… [the reason I’m a poet] is having this human interaction, this touch… language is important, but I come to AWP because I love my people and I want to see my community.” – Safia Elhillo on the importance of community building in her poetic life

  • Revolutionary Voices: Harnessing the Power of Language

Panelists: Desireé Dallagiacomo, Ellen Hagan, Merna Hecht, Jake Vermaas

“We are pushing away any stereotype of each other, or what teachers have about students. We are creating dialogue…we are creating a space with no assumptions.” – Ellen Hagan on the work being done to support students in the Bronx through the DreamYard Project

  • Challenging Tokenization: Writers of Colors Respond

Panelists: Analicia Sotelo, Chris Santiago, Janine Joseph, Tiphanie Yanique, Leslie Sainz

“Tokenization is the appearance of equity.” – Leslie Sainz speaking on the ways people of color working in publishing are often encouraged to solicit other writers of color without seeing structural changes to the industry

“What do we when we find ourselves as tokens?…I’m using that power of tokenization to hire new diverse staff, expose new voices… but it’s a lot of work.” – Tiphanie Yanique on her work as a professor and how she is using her power to impact change

  • A Job of One’s Own: How to Create a Professional Life That Works for You

Panelists: Meggie Monahan, Natalia Sylvester, Ramiza Koya, Nancy Reddy, Jesse Donaldson

“I launched a company, commissioned a logo, DIYed my own website and business cards. I learned how to quote clients, draft up contracts, invoice them and make sure I was paid on time. All the while, I applied these same research/obsession skills to publishing and the craft of writing, attending every conference and workshop I could afford and/travel to. If an author was in town, I went to their book signing. If they were teaching a workshop at my library or through an organization, I signed up. This was my way of cobbling together a DIY MFA. I am fully aware that it might not be what would work for everyone—the path to publishing and even alternate paths are structured in favor of those with certain and often very different kinds of privilege…” – Natalie Sylvester on how she started her own copywriting business while working toward the publication of her first novel

  • Safe Writing Spaces: Building Community Through Literary Advocacy

Panelists: Angela So, Cathy Linh Che, Elizabeth Bryant, Renée Watson, Michael Martinez

“We try to create spaces of intimacy… every retreat begins with an opening circle for every single person to speak and listen to each other” – Cathy Linh Che on how Kundiman creates a space of vulnerability for writers of color to create community

“We’re always asking ‘where are you from, where are you now, where do you want to go… what’s happening in the world, and what do you want to say about it?’” – Renee Watson on the important questions she asks the youth at the I, Too, Arts Collective

  • Off-site Reading at Literary Arts:

“Fear kept me loving one man… even when he was so clearly designed for oceans when I cannot swim” – Monica Prince

 

Thank you to all our panelists and partners. See you in San Antonio for AWP 2020!

National Poetry Month 2019

Posted April 5, 2019 & filed under Notebook.

WITS is celebrating National Poetry Month!

Join us at our WITS events in April–we can’t wait to celebrate poetry with you! Use our hashtag #HoustonIsPoetry to connect with us on social media.

April 7th: Space City Slam Grand Slam

Watch as the most talented youth poets in Houston perform original poetry in front of a live audience for the chance to join Meta-Four Houston and represent our city at Brave New Voices this summer. Jackson Neal, Houston Youth Poet Laureate and 3-time Meta-Four Houston member, will be our emcee! Sunday April 7th, 3pm at Midtown Arts and Theater Center Houston (MATCH).

Reserve your free standby ticket here:

https://witshouston.org/grandslam

April 8th: KPFT Open Journal

Tune in to KPFT’s Open Journal Monday, April 8th at 6pm for an interview with WITS Executive Director Robin Reagler and Bayouth Collective co-founder and member Mackenzie. Hear about their work and the impact of poetry in Houston.

Listen here, or on the radio at 90.1FM:

http://kpft.org/

April 13th: Young Writers Reading Series – Blooms

At our Young Writers Reading, WITS students read their work for the first time in front of an audience. Celebrate storytelling as our young writers share their best poems, stories, and essays from the school year at this important and exciting experience that will stay with them for a lifetime. Saturday April 13th, 11:30am at Discovery Green.

Sundays, April – June: Poetry and Pose

A free family-friendly program for Houston’s creative writing and yoga enthusiasts. The session will open with a 45 minute creative writing activity inspired by yoga practice and close with a 45 minute yoga session with an instructor from Happy Feet Yoga. 11 am at Discovery Green every Sunday, Hess Deck Patio.

H-E-B Poetry Pop-Ups

While shopping for groceries at H-E-B stores, take a look around for WITS student poems! In the classroom, our writers encourage students to write about what they love most–and often, that includes food. With Poetry Pop-Ups at the Bellaire, Buffalo Speedway, Bunker Hill, Heights, Montrose, and San Felipe locations, WITS partners with H-E-B stores around Houston to share that love with our communities. Can you find all of the poems in your store?

Rain Poems

Our WITS Bayouth Collective will be installing poetry in Buffalo Bayou Park–with a catch. Bring some water or wait for a rainy day to reveal #rainpoems, stenciled in invisible ink that only emerges when wet. Look for signs near water fountains on the trail for a chance to splash water on the poetry-covered path:

 

* Eleanor Tinsley Park

* Rosemont Bridge

* Inside the dog park

* Houston Police Memorial

 

Poem-A-Day

Follow our Twitter for daily excerpts from WITS classrooms, Facebook for weekly student poems, and Instagram for three-panel reveals and stories from our events!

 

Snow Soft Winter Owl

Posted December 4, 2018 & filed under Notebook.

Winter in Houston isn’t usually snowy. Or cold. But Gia used her chilliest imagination to bring her readers into an icy winter wonderland.

Snow Soft Winter Owl

 

It’s like a soft winter owl

whispering through the sound

of the wintery soft sky.

The snow is like a soft, fluffy blanket

floating through the frosty cold air.

It’s like whip cream

piled high on a snowflake cake.

It snuck into my city

from the snowy city.

It was special.

The special snowy air

came from

the soft-whispering talking air,

like a crystal mixed with ice cream,

like white milk floating in the cold, icy sky.

On the windy ice cloud,

a dancer is dancing

through the icy sky.

 

by Gia, 3rd grade

Mi familia | My Family

Posted November 21, 2018 & filed under Notebook.

 

Cuando veo a mi mama

La veo en mi nombre y en mis ojos

Cuando escribo mi nombre en el aire

Espero y luego hay luces en el

Cuando veo a mi papa me siento feliz

Cuando veo tristeza

Yo también tengo tristeza.

Cuando mi mama hace la cena

Yo huelo mi nombre en ella

Oigo mi nombre fuerte

Cuando llega la lluvia fuerte

Cuando mi mama toca mis manos

Se siente mi nombre en ella

Y recuerdo mi nombre en mi papa.

——————————————————

When I see my mom

I see her in my name and my eyes

When I write my name in the air

I make a wish and see lights in it

When I see my dad I feel happy

When I see sadness

I also feel sad.

When my mom makes dinner

I smell my name in it

I hear my name loudly

When the strong rains come

When my mom touches my hands

I feel my name in her

And remember my name in my dad.

 

Lola, 3rd grade

An Autumn Leaf

Posted November 6, 2018 & filed under Notebook.

An autumn leaf looks like

a boat

a heart

fire

a lizard tail

a broken-down rocket ship.

 

An autumn leaf smells like

cinnamon

vinegar

pumpkin pie

money

rain dripping on the ground.

 

An autumn leaf sounds like

a drum

paper

snowflakes

Santa’s sleigh shhhh

like snow is falling.

 

An autumn leaf feels like

soft

hard

like a rat

like broken paper

like cotton balls.

 

by a WITS Kindergarten class

Halloween

Posted October 31, 2018 & filed under Notebook.

Rusty gate at a farm,

an old door

creaking open.

The floor squeaking,

an old metal shed.

 

The haunted house,

flickering lights,

broken windows,

furnace cracked,

an abandoned cemetery.

 

A monster comes out

a swamp that smells

like sewage. It’s green,

slimy. Its eyes are red.

 

The wind blows leaves,

thunder and lightning,

rain pounds.

 

A werewolf howls at the

moon. There’s a

knock on the door.

 

by Aidan, 3rd grade

All About Wendy and Wind

Posted August 28, 2018 & filed under Notebook, Poem, Poem of the Day, Student Writing.

If Harvey were a girl, I would be so happy.  Harvey would be nice and cute and maybe she’d have a different name.  Her name would be Wendy, like the wind.  Her colors are pink and purple.

Wendy is going to play with me.  I like Wendy. She is going to have a pet that is a chick.  Her chick is named Wind.  The chick is blue like the water, but Wind does not like water.  She loves cupcakes and land.

Wendy and Wind like to play together and be nice to all the people.  Wendy makes hurricanes because she wants water for Wind to take a bath.  She surrounds everything so Wind will get wet.  Wind is sad when Wendy make hurricanes, and feels sorry for all the people that have to leave, all for taking a bath.  Wind also feels embarrassed.  But Wendy is sometimes sad, because Wind doesn’t want to take a bath.

 

By Lizbeth, 2nd Grade

Moon

Posted July 5, 2018 & filed under Notebook, Poem, Student Writing.

Moon, why are you so bright?

You show the stars the way through the night.

You are the sand man’s face,

in my pocket every place.

You translate my dreams,

and give me dreams of what you mean.

Sing me a lullaby!

Close my eyes enemy of the sun,

mystery of the navy sky.

I fly by your rocky, hard, dusty, round ground.

I can’t finish,

I don’t want to give away a secret that means the most.

The past was too important to ruin the memory.

Put me down,

so the sun can wake me up.

 

by Hayden, 4th grade

To Beeville and Back

Posted June 12, 2018 & filed under Classroom Reflections, Event, News, Notebook, WITS People.

I was in Beeville for a five-day stay in May to cast the WITS magic in the sleepy south Texas town. Driving down the main drag, you become familiar with the population count (approximately 13,000), clearly marked as you enter then leave the city limits.

Along with writers Autumn Hayes, Matty Glasgow, and Dinorah Pérez-Rementería, I was assigned a micro-residency for the last week of school. I was placed in the fourth-grade classrooms of RA Hall Elementary, one of six schools in the school district, while my fellow writers were assigned to lower elementary and middle schools. The week before, two other writers brought WITS to the high school. In a minute way, we had magnificently spellbound the district.

Most schools are mayhem during the last week of school, but not RA Hall. Upon entering the classroom, I found the students quickly harnessed the energy inherent in the final weeks of school into creativity. Fresh off the constraints of state testing, they were keen to push the boundaries of the expected and dive into the playfulness of poetics. They constructed persona poems, authored odes and wandered among campus greenspace to create nature poems.

   

One classroom, filled with forty-five students, listened intently to the mini-lesson, then silently took pen to paper to let their imaginations soar. A student whose sleepy head initially rested on his desk sprang into action to praise the ordinary yet awesome nail. Others found the voices of baseballs and bananas, iPhones and fans, tapping into their objects’ innermost desires and greatest fears. They were unstoppable and inspiring. They were writers on fire.

Thanks to the Joe Barnhart Foundation for bringing WITS to Beeville!

 

Gretchen Cion holds a B.A. from Washington University in St. Louis and a M.A. in Education from Hunter College in New York City. While teaching in NYC, she was involved with the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project, which ignited her love of creative writing. Thanks to her profession as an educator and literacy specialist, she has written countless stories to help teach the craft of writing. Currently, she is working on a collection of essays and an umpteenth revision of her screenplay, Good Liar. When she is not writing, she can be found compiling the perfect mix for her rise-and-shine dance parties. She lives in Houston with her artist husband Ian and their two wildly cool boys.

Famous Author

Posted April 30, 2018 & filed under Notebook, Poem, Poem of the Day, Student Writing.

 

A blank paper is not blank at all,
it’s a balloon that floats me up into the sky.
Up here, I can see everything.

When I come back down,
I grasp my pencil, kiss the paper.
It cuts into what is blank
and changes into an explosion of light.

I see myself more clearly than I ever have before.
The picture stares back at me
waiting.

By Caitlyn, 7th grade

Click the media player above to listen to the poem read on KPFT 90.1 by MacKenzie, WITS Youth Advisory Council Student. The background music is “Balloons Rising” by A.A.Aalto. freemusicarchive.org. Produced 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.

Perfect Square

Posted April 27, 2018 & filed under Notebook, Poem, Poem of the Day, Student Writing.

It was a perfect square.
It had four matching corners
And four equal sides. And it was perfectly happy…
But on Saturday, the square was cut,
crumbled, and snipped.
So it made itself into a heart
that beats, loves, and keeps me alive.

By Raynisse, 1st 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 “Hearts Aflutter” by Podington Bear. freemusicarchive.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.

BEFORE (two koi fish in water)

Posted April 26, 2018 & filed under Notebook, Poem, Poem of the Day, Student Writing.

The shadow of whiskers like an invitation with the address missing. A fin
like jellyfish but more tulle.
Craterous tulle; black swan pirouetting on the moon.
Tulle skirt with cigarette burn holes; laddered tights.
Iron stain on tulle; muddy.
Burned tulle drowned; Ophelia enters
the water with her head split open.
It sizzles.
Light glinting off scaled arms like merman preparing for battle. Drape him
in tadpoles- a garland to keep. See that collection of freckles
by his elbow? It’s almost a constellation. Call it filtered sunshine on teenage boy
& it won’t come home with him.
An ink blot blossoms in the water. Looks like a smudge of blood on a war photographer’s lens
except there’s no war here. This is the moment –frozen– just
before.

By Rukmini Kalamangalam, Youth Poet Laureate

Click the media player above to listen to the poem read on KPFT 90.1 by Rukmini, WITS Youth Advisory Council Student. The background music is “Japanese Bagoda with Reflection in Water” by Lena Orsa. jamendo.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.

Me pregunto | I Wonder

Posted April 25, 2018 & filed under Notebook, Poem, Poem of the Day, Student Writing.

 


¿Por qué las inmensas motos no van a Hollywood?
¿Cuál es la ballena ruidosa que siempre va a cantar?
¿Dónde dejó la rosa su dulce olor?
¿Hay algo más triste en el mundo que árboles muertos?
¿Quiénes gritaron de alegría cuando nació el color rosado?
¿Cómo logró su libertad la casita de la muñeca lenta?
¿Trabajan la leche y el pan para dormir a una persona?
¿Y a las margaritas les agradezco por su rey?
¿Entre los pájaros posados en el nido cuál es el mejor?

Why don’t the enormous motorcycles go to Hollywood?
What is the noisy whale that always goes to sing?
Where did the rose leave its sweet aroma?
Is there anything sadder in the world than dead trees?
Who screamed with joy when the color pink was born?
How did the slow doll’s little house find its freedom?
Do milk and bread work together to make a person sleep?
And do I thank the daisies for their king?
Among the birds sitting in the nest which one is the best?

By Ashley, 3rd 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 “Puzzle” by Fresh Body Shop. jamendo.com. Produced 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.

Bones

Posted April 24, 2018 & filed under Notebook, Poem, Poem of the Day, Student Writing.

 

Bones everywhere
Bones fill my chest
You hang bones in my closet
I got sick and blew my nose with delicate bone
So tired I slept and my bed was made of bones
Drove to work in my car made of bones
There are bones beneath me
Bones blowing in the trees
The chandelier made of milky white bones
Picked up my phone made of bones and listened to the voicemail made of bones because her voice was no more
I cling to the bones
Bullets of bones
Bones under the floorboards
Bones growing backwards
I held your hand and you told me it was bones
Warm bone it was
Warm. So warm.

By Mia, 8th grade

Click the media player above to listen to the poem read on KPFT 90.1 by Rukmini, WITS Youth Advisory Council Student. The background music is “Skeleton in da Wardrobe” by ZRZ Beats. jamendo.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.

White Blossom Flower

Posted April 23, 2018 & filed under Notebook, Poem, Poem of the Day, Student Writing.

white
blossom
flower

alone
with
no
one
with
you

flying,
going
tree
to
tree

with
bees
going
to
you
drinking
your
nectar

you
are
like
velvet

By Hifsa, 3rd grade

Click the media player above to listen to the poem read on KPFT 90.1 by Rukmini, WITS Youth Advisory Council Student. The background music is “Flower Dance” by DDmyzik.  jamendo.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.

Ocean

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

 

The ocean shouts out
with all the courage it has.

The ocean dives down
with glory pounding in its heart.

The ocean loves deeply
with all its might.

The ocean glows
when the sun shimmers on its waves.

By Elena, 2nd 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 “Ocean Time Blues” by Septahelix. ccmixter.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.

The Healer

Posted April 19, 2018 & filed under Notebook, Poem, Poem of the Day, Student Writing.

(Inspired by René Magritte’s The Healer (Le thérapeute), 1967)

Oh, Mary, oh Mary, what do I do?
I have a rib cage—a real cage, too!
Birds are inside me.
I’m like a jar!
I have a bag full of seed for the birds I feed,
but the birds will never—oh never!—come out!

Even the times I put seed on the ground,
they still will not come out.
I wait for an hour, maybe two,
but they just peck at my cage.

Mary, help me! I feed the birds
a tuffin. Rejected.

My relationship with the birds
has given me a rib cage
and a chest full of feathers.
My cane is made of bird feet!
You must help me.
My cape is torn because of their beaks.

By Helena, 4th 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 “Nice Bird” by Short Hopper. ccmixter.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.

My Voice

Posted April 18, 2018 & filed under Notebook, Poem, Poem of the Day, Student Writing.


My voice is a whorly wind picking up houses, Toto, and Dorothy, whipping through the calm night sky.

A strong storm is my soul, sweeping through towns and sloshing colors everywhere I go.

Most times, my imagination is the beginning of the universe, the big bangs of colors spewing colors, making planets and sun.

The future is a square, grass green cactus storing lots of water inside for droughts.

Her hair is a slide, so slick, silky and slippery, I fly down.

By Sadie, 4th 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 “Talk to the Wind” by @nop. ccmixter.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.

Celebrate #NationalPoetryMonth with Pop-Up Poetry at H-E-B

Posted April 17, 2018 & filed under News, Notebook, Poem, Poem of the Day, Press, Public Poetry, Student Writing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Visitors can visit H-E-B locations in Montrose, San Felipe, Buffalo Speedway, and Bunker Hill for a chance to see these special pop-up poetry installations during the entire month of April. Written by WITS students, these poems celebrate the everyday, from the dreamy quality of eating a pizza to the softness of flowers. The next time you’re shopping at any of these locations, go on a scavenger hunt with your family to see if you can find them all!

If you’re at H-E-B San Felipe location, check out the “poet-tree” where you can add your own words to the tree. This is a DIY version of the poet-trees at Eleanor Tinsley Park created in partnership with artist Nicola Parente and The Buffalo Bayou Partnership. Be thanks to Meagan, Community Coordinator at San Felipe for the DIY poet-tree. It looks beautiful!

Thank you to Houston Arts Alliance, Texas Commission on the Arts, and Copy.com for your in-kind support of our pop-up poetry. And thank you to H-E-B Tournament of Champions for supporting public poetry for National Poetry Month!