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!

Red

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

 

Red can be a highway
that leads to
glory,
love,
fame,
and family.
Red can be a
door to a
whole other
world!
Red can be as
sweet as tomatoes,
as happy as an apple.
Red can be anything you
choose it to be.
It can be as small as a mouse or
as big as a lion!
Red can be the fire in your soul.
Red can’t be distressed or dismantled
only misunderstood.
Red.

By Jack, 5th 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 “Crimson Clover Crystal Star” by Lenny Wiles. 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.

Biography

Posted April 16, 2018 & filed under Notebook, Poem, Poem of the Day, Student Writing.

My father was born where the insurmountable skyline assaults the sky.
My mother was born in the wagons of the desert.
I was made with two rhythms and one tune to create a symphony of imagination.
My child will make her own world.
I am the moonlit laughter tinkling through the air like bells.

By Athen, 8th 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 “Desert Flower” by Doc. 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.

Ode to Pizza

Posted April 13, 2018 & filed under Notebook, Poem, Poem of the Day, Student Writing.

 

O pizza, your tomato sauce
tastes like dreams.
The peppers, the mushrooms—oh,
I like those!

O my pizza, then you go in the oven,
it is more than dreams.
It’s as beautiful as a rose blooming.

Your taste is like art class.
Imagine the beautiful red paint as the
tasty delicious tomato sauce.
Imagine the smooth clay
as the amazing mushrooms.

By Noor, 3rd 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 “24 Slices” by DJ Dangerous. 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.

You Are

Posted April 12, 2018 & filed under Notebook, Poem, Poem of the Day, Student Writing.

 

You are the face of wisdom,

and

the stairs

to clouds.

You are history not discovered.

Also, you are the

heaven              light.

I am grass in wind, I am

a bird                     climbing a tree.

You             are          not          the

bird falling, but I am.

You are not the fish, no never could

you                         be the fish.

no way.

You are the          water, but

not the

f

a

l

l

.

But you will always be the face

of wisdom

and

the

stairs

to

the

o
l u
c d
s

 

By Rhea, 3rd 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 “Waterfall Wisdom” by Solxis. 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.

Underneath

Posted April 11, 2018 & filed under Notebook, Poem, Poem of the Day, Student Writing.

Underneath my leather blazer is my dark purple buttoned down shirt
Underneath my purple buttoned down shirt is my grey and red shirt
Underneath my gray and red shirt is my caramel skin
Underneath my caramel skin are my strong muscles
Underneath my strong muscles are my strong, thin bones
Underneath my strong, thin bones is my loving and caring heart
Underneath my loving and caring heart is my feelings and the bond I share with my family
Underneath my love for my family is the love for my classmates and teachers
Underneath my love for my classmates and teachers is my dream to be an EXPLORER.

By Isaiah, 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 “Explorer” by Kenny690. 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.

Deseos | Wishes

Posted April 10, 2018 & filed under Notebook, Poem, Poem of the Day, Student Writing.

Ve, nieve mía, y a mi mamá desea
lluvia en el cielo, una corona de cristal,
una perla de agua,
una casa de anillos, una maravillosa vida en su corazón
y un poema en la hoja.
Aquí soñaré para siempre y mis ojos buscarán.
Aquí está el verano, aquí las flores.
Esta es la tierra de la canción.
Aquí están las hermosas rosas.
Esos son los cuentos de la sirena.

Go, my snow, and wish my mom
rain in the sky, a crown of glass,
a pearl of water,
a house of rings, a marvelous life in her heart
and a poem on the page.
Here I will dream forever and my eyes will seek.
Here is the summer, here the flowers.
This is the land of the song.
Here are the beautiful roses.
Those are the mermaid’s stories.

Arely, 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 “Mermaid Princess” by Koke Nunez-Gomez. 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.

Dance

Posted April 9, 2018 & filed under Notebook, Poem, Poem of the Day, Student Writing.

 

The puppies glide
across the land
of song
All of them
pearling and swirling
and whirling
for the existence
of
music
is a
trance
the extraordinary
cells of
the song
are
unstoppable
the
curiosity
continuing
is
enough
and the
waves of
music
rage
on
like a
clock
waiting
to strike
upon
the end
as
the waves
of music
cross
the endless
ocean
of
crystal
sky

Catherine, 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 “Waltzing Circles” by SidewayProduced 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.

Originally posted: October 6, 2017.

Zoom

Posted April 6, 2018 & filed under Notebook, Poem, Poem of the Day, Student Writing.

 

Love cries out with joy.
Infinity multiplies forever.
The Earth gets dizzy from spinning.
My friend loves me.
All of these ideas make my heart zoom!

By Isabelle, 1st 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 “High-Speed Racing” by AHP60. 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.

Originally posted: October 6, 2017.

My Mind

Posted April 5, 2018 & filed under Notebook, Poem, Poem of the Day, Student Writing.

 

My mind explodes with anger.
My mind shatters like glass.
My mind cries for help.
My mind crumbles into bits.
My mind burns like lava.
My mind gallops like a horse.
My mind mesmerizes everything.
My mind juggles the air.
My mind dives into a black hole.
My mind turns into ash.
My mind dreams of trees.
My mind catapults to earth.
My mind multiplies 15 X 2.
My mind says I love you.

By Sarah, 2nd 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 “Division” 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.

 

2018 Fresh Ink Fiction Contest

Posted April 4, 2018 & filed under Contest, Fiction, News, Notebook, Poem.

Open to young Texas writers, from rising 7th grade through rising 12th grade! Free to apply. Deadline to submit is May 18, 2018.

Hosted by the Texas Book Festival (TBF), the Fresh Ink Fiction Contest encourages middle and high school Texas students to submit a piece of original fiction, no more than 2,000 words in length. This year’s theme is “What Really Happened.” Submitted entries are judged by Texas Book Festival authors, local educators, and leaders in the publishing industry.

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. The Texas Book Festival and the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement provide accommodations for the first place winners and their family for one night.

In order to enter, students must reside in Texas and enter in one of the three divisions: Grades 7-8, Grades 9-10, or Grades 11-12. All entries must be an original piece of fiction. No fan fiction or works containing any plagiarism will be accepted. Entries must be 2,000 words or less, 12-point type, double-spaced, and related to the 2018 Fresh Ink Fiction Contest theme: “What Really Happened.” Judges will look for excellence in use of dialogue, imagery, character development, setting, plot, conflict, and resolution. Each student may only enter one submission and there is no entry fee.

Read past winners work here.

Enter the 2018 Fresh Ink Fiction Contest here.

Six Ways of Looking at a Pepper

Posted & 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.

WITS Alliance Goes to Tampa

Posted March 19, 2018 & filed under Event, News, Notebook, WITS People.

Each year, the WITS Alliance travels to a different city to highlight the importance of creative writing in the classroom and in civic life at the Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP) Conference, a gathering of over 12,000 literary professionals. From March 7 – 10, the WITS Alliance sponsored six panels, one meeting, and a booth to build opportunities for writers to find support, discover resources, and foster community.

Here are a few highlights from the conference:

Executive Director, Robin Reagler, closing out the AWP Gala, where poet Erin Belieu was presented with the George Garrett Award for Outstanding Community Service in Literature.

“The work that I do at the Dodge Poetry Festival is to try to create environments where people can engage with poetry through a personal connection with no judgment.” – Martin Farawell

Moderator Meggie Monahan from Writers in the School Houston leading a conversation on “Poetry in Public Places” with Scott Cunningham of O, Miami Festival, Martin Farawell of Dodge Poetry Fesival, Laurin Macios of Mass Poetry, and Tyler Meier of the University of Arizona Poetry Center.

“I’m happy when people are reading poetry because it is a form of resistance.” – Kaveh Akbar

Moderator Analicia Sotelo of Writers in the Schools Houston with “Literary Twitterati” panelists Kaveh Akbar, Eve Ewing, Dorothea Lasky of Astro Poets, alongside WITS Executive Director, Robin Reagler.

“It’s important to be vulnerable, to remind students that we should be playful and silly.” – Karyna McGlynn

Moderate Jack McBride from Writers in the Schools Houston alongside current and former WITS writers, Ramon Isao, Nicky Beer, Karyna McGlynn, and Niki Herd at the “WITS Alumni Reading: The Unfiltered Imagination” panel. Each speaker shared student work, read from their own writing, and offered funny and thoughtful stories about being in the classroom and how teaching young students brings playfulness into their own work.

“Most people prefer a linear path. I firmly believe that if you see your career as an exploration, you really get a great opportunity to craft your own narrative, even if it’s not the one you imagined.”  – Giuseppe Taurino

Led by Community-Word Project’s Michele Kolter, panelists Thomas Calder (journalist at Mountain Xpress), Martin Rock (Associate Director at Exploratorium), Giuseppe Taurino (Associate Director of the Creative Writing Program at the University of Houston), and Abby Travis (Editor at Milkweed Editions) discussed their journeys to their current jobs with helpful tips and thoughtful stories at the “Jobs! Jobs! Jobs!” panel.

“Have a plan and surround yourself with people that see your dream.” – Kima Jones

Seattle Arts & Lectures’ Alicia Craven discussed diversity, inclusion and changing the literary landscape with “Small Experiments with Radical Intent” panelists Janine Joseph of UndocuPoets, Kima Jones of Jack Jones Literary Agency, Ramiza Koya of Literary Arts, and Desiree Dallagiacomo of Forward Arts in Baton Rouge.

“I find empathy to be infectious, and it’s amazing to see how much people in your own community can accomplish. Your community is your greatest resource.” – Erin Belieu

Britt Udesen (Executive Director of The Loft Literary Center), Amalia Kruszel (Arts Action Fund Program Manager at Americans for the Arts), moderator Tina Cane (Executive Director of Writers-in-the-Schools, Rhode Island and Rhode Island Poet Laureate), Erin Belieu (co-founder of VIDA and Writers Resist), and Diane Luby Lane (Executive Director of Get Lit) revealed their thoughts on literary activism, social change, and community building at our “Loud Because We Have to Be” panel.

Robin Reagler helped close out the conference by introducing Jen Benka at the Academy of American Poets event featuring Layli Long Soldier, Khaled Mattawa, and Mark Doty.

Our WITS booth is where we talked with emerging writers and educators about the alliance.  WITS Houston writers Paige Quinones and Dan Chu discuss opportunities for writers to engage with their community through Writers in the School programs.

Our booth was a popular space! We held daily raffles and gave away swag. Poet Danez Smith gets a “Because Writing is Revolutionary” temporary tattoo from Mohamed Sheriff.

Cultivating relationships with writers at AWP is essential to ensuring that we continue to place writers in the classroom and work toward our mission of giving every child the opportunity to tell their story.

The Standard is You: Lessons from World-Renowned Writer Chinaka Hodge

Posted February 8, 2018 & filed under Notebook.

On Saturday, February 3rd, students from around the Greater Houston area streamed into Queensbury Theatre to learn from poet, playwright, and screenwriter, Chinaka Hodge, during a free youth workshop hosted by Writers in the Schools and Meta-Four Houston. The author of three books, including the 2016 collection of poetry, Dated Emcees, Chinaka’s poems, editorials, interviews and prose have been featured in Newsweek, Poetry Magazine, PBS, NPR, Teen People, CNN, TED, and in two seasons of HBO’s Def Poetry.

Chinaka started the workshop by recounting her journey as a writer: from a thirteen-year-old girl from the Bay Area to working in the writer’s room for the upcoming NBC series, Rise, which premieres March 13. But before she arrived in Hollywood, she started writing and performing slam as a teenager. Her long-career as a professional writer has taught her four things:

  1. There are no wrong answers.
  2. The standard is you.
  3. Write in any language you want.
  4. Have fun.

Then Chinaka led a one-of-a-kind slam workshop that pulled from both her experience as a slam poet and as a screenwriter. Students worked intensively as they generated a logline and treatment for a script that could serve as the foundation of a poem, essay, or rap. By combining slam and screenwriting, students learned two central tools to storytelling: how to articulate a character’s desires and how to create tension by developing obstacles. Chinaka shared that she applies these narrative tools in all her writing. For example, in her essays, she utilizes a three act structure. In slam poetry, the poem usually ends at the climax, when the audience discovers whether or not the performer gets what he or she desires. Learning and understanding the structure of storytelling has been critical in her success. As the workshop neared its end, she reminded students of the key advice she carries with her—the standard for your writing is you, so keep telling stories only you can tell.