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!

Spring Break with WITS

Posted March 9, 2018 & filed under free Houston event, News, Public Poetry.

This Spring Break, join WITS as we offer fun and innovative programming throughout the week!


Writing Workshops at Spring Break at Discovery Green

  • Monday, March 12 – Thursday, March 15 | 2pm-3pm
  • HPL Express
  • Free


Writing Workshop at Let’s Be Friends

  • Monday, March 12 | 10am-12pm
  • Holocaust Museum
  • Free with admission


WITS Youth Advisory Council’s Story Slam

  • Thursday, March 15 | 6pm-7pm
  • Brazos Bookstore
  • Free


Young Poet Laureate, Rukmini Kalamangalam, at Inprint Cool Brains! Spring Break Fest with Juan Felipe Herrera

  • Sunday, March 18 | 2pm-5pm
  • Meyerland Performing and Visual Arts Middle School
  • Free


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


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

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.