Every Saturday morning from 10:30-11:30 Kent Shaw and I co-teach a free WITS workshop inside the HPL Express Library at Discovery Green Park in downtown Houston. A group of 10-15 kids sit with us in a circle and write poems and stories. We use the downtown space as inspiration—studying the trees, the sculptures, and the skyscrapers and observing the yogis, Frisbee golfers, and dancers.
Some of the young authors are drop-ins, but at least half are regular WITS kids who come rain or shine with journals tucked under their arms. The youngest ones show up because it’s fun to write about heroes and roller coasters and pet snakes. The older ones come to get feedback on their work, including novels in progress, and meet other kids like themselves.
Most classes begin with a 5-minute Finger Warm-Up where we write non-stop about whatever pops into our heads—skunks, spaghetti and meatballs, the color green. Once our brains are awake, we read and discuss a piece of writing, such as “Ode to a Tomato” by Pablo Neruda or “A Hand” by Jane Hirshfield. Then, we write.
The class often ends with an impromptu reading. The kids stand up, one by one, and read out loud their works in progress. Parents, siblings, and library patrons clap and snap. Waking up on a Saturday morning to write and share poems and stories is something to celebrate!
posted by Marcia Chamberlain, Writers in the Schools