Pages and Pages of Poetry!

Posted April 23, 2013 & filed under Notebook.

headshotWith the school year reaching a close, MaryScott dedicated our time at Travis this week to one-on-one meetings with each 4th grader. After typing and then printing out some of the students’ best pieces, she met with each of them by a ‘kidney shaped’ table to discuss the next steps – from adding an illustration to selecting other pieces of writing to add to the anthology.
While MaryScott hosted the individual meetings, I flitted around the room to help students finish up their comics or sort through the work they had done with WITS this year. Since I started my WITS interneship in mid-January, there was an abundant collection of writing from each student that I had never seen before, including creative responses to work Cy Twombly paintings and the surrealists, poems based on the prompt “If the world were my chalkboard,” and more. I kept an eye on the dates as we flipped through the pages and pages of work, seeing how much was accomplished in such a short time.
Today the Travis kids face their last round of STAAR testing (State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness), and then we’re down to our final two weeks together. The following Tuesday, the kids will be presenting their comics to the the rest of the class.  I’m looking forward to seeing these pieces in motion.
More from the classroom soon!
WITS Intern Eriel

Young Authors @ the Menil Community Arts & Houston Indie Book Festival

Posted April 17, 2013 & filed under Notebook.


Please join us this Saturday, April 20th, at noon to support young authors at the annual Writers in the Schools BLOOMS reading event.  BLOOMS is part of the Houston Young Writers Reading Series, and these young writers were chosen from thousands of children across the city of Houston.  Children in grades K-12 will read original poems, stories, and essays on the lawn of the Menil Collection. Please clap loudly for these brave voices!

We invite you to bring a blanket and a lawn chair and spend the entire afternoon with us enjoying poetry, music, film, and yoga at this festival for the whole family. For more information about the festival and a timeline of events, please visit the Menil Collection website.  See you at 12 noon on Saturday!

Meta-Four Youth Poetry Slam

Posted April 4, 2013 & filed under Notebook.

Photograph - Meta-Four Students Performing 2 copy

Join other youth for a Meta-Four Youth Poetry Slam hosted by Outspoken Bean, the 2013-14 Houston V.I.P. Slam Champ!

Writers in the Schools provides a safe, encouraging environment where teens of diverse backgrounds and economic circumstances can explore and express their truths through workshops and poetry slams.

Youth ages 13-19 are encouraged to participate in free year-round weekly workshops and monthly open-mic events hosted by Writers in the Schools. In the spring and summer, youth poets are selected through a series of slam competitions to represent Houston in the annual Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam Festival.

Meta-FourThe next FREE Space City Slam is:

April 6 (Sat) @ Houston Public Central Library 10-12pm

Bring your friends for a poetry workshop and slam. Spread the word!

John Palmer Art names Writers in the Schools Charity of the Year

Posted January 23, 2013 & filed under Notebook.

John Palmer Art has named Writers in the Schools as its 2013 Charity of the Year and will support our organization for the entire calendar year through the raising of funds and awareness.

John Ross Palmer & WITS

Artist John Ross Palmer says, “We fell in love with WITS and their team from the get-go.  They are 100% committed and enthusiastic about their work–just like me!  Look forward to our events that support WITS this year–both our cherished art collectors and their patrons should be ready to be wowed!”

As John Palmer Art’s 2013 Charity of the Year, WITS will be specifically honored at the following events at the John Palmer Art Gallery & Studio: Official Charity of the Year Launch Party on April 6th, The Afternoon & Evening of Escapism on October 19th and an Official  Fundraising Party for WITS (Date to be Determined). Visit for more information about John and his incredible work.

The Rock

Posted April 25, 2012 & filed under Poem of the Day.

I block

the feelings that beat

against my shell.

I have beauty inside me

longing to be shown

to the world.

I am stiff with

the emotions that swirl

in my body.

I watch the butterflies

dance around me

with flaps of pride.

When it rains, I show

my shiny shell to the

lady called the flower.

She drops a warm petal on me

to show that we are no

different in soul.

For what would life be

without soul?

It doesn’t matter

what you have within,

only the soul matters.

As the sun’s rays hammer

into me, my beauty

faintly shows.

I am a rock.

by Ioana, 3rd grade

Click the link (above) to listen to the poem read on KPFT radio by Thomas Girardet, a 4th grade student at Parker Elementary in Houston.

This poem is featured as part of the 2012 A Poem A Day campaign, a National Poetry Month celebration by Writers in the Schools (WITS) that features a different poem by a WITS student every day during April. Click here to learn more.

Lily Pads

Posted April 4, 2012 & filed under Poem of the Day.


I like the lily pads that float on the pond

Green with a touch of pizzazz

The lily pad is the only one who has a heart

It spreads its magical beauty with its pinky petals

They come in all shapes and sizes

One is purple, a small sliver like a broken heart

It is a beautiful thing to look at in winter

by Alvara, 4th grade

Click the link (above) to listen to the poem read on KPFT radio by Jennvie Bui, a 2nd grader from Parker Elementary.


This poem is featured as part of the 2012 A Poem A Day campaign, a National Poetry Month celebration by Writers in the Schools (WITS) that features a different poem by a WITS student every day during April. Click here to learn more.

WhARTon nARraTives Art and Writing Exhibit Opens February 11

Posted January 27, 2012 & filed under Notebook.

Exhibition of artwork and writing from the Artbound! and Writers in the Schools (WITS) residencies at Wharton Elementary

Writers in the Schools and Art League Houston have partnered to present WhARTon NARraTives, an exhibition of over sixty pieces of artwork and writing by second and third grade students from the Wharton Elementary School who have been taking part in Art League Houston’s Artbound! and Writer in the Schools In-School residency programs. The exhibition opens with a free public reception between 2:00 – 3:30 pm on Saturday, February 11, 2012, and runs through March 2, 2012 in the Project Gallery, 1953 Montrose Blvd. City Council Member Ellen Cohen will be the keynote speaker.

Through the  collaborative project called Artbound!, Art League Houston brings visual artists into the classroom to make the arts more accessible to inner-city youth. WhARTon NARraTives, the first exhibition of its kind at this dual-language academy, showcases the synergy that results when visual arts and writing come together. For more information, visit Art League Houston’s website.

Photos by Art League Houston via Flickr

Way To Go!

Posted November 8, 2011 & filed under Notebook.

Join us in congratulating these past and present WITS writers and students:

Chuck Carlise’s new chapbook A Broken Escalator Still Isn’t Stairs is now available on Amazon.

WITS student Jasmine Davis, who works with WITS writer Melanie Malinowski, won Honorable Mention for her essay “My Life with Clorox” for the Kidney Times Essay Contest.

WITS Summer Camp teacher Aime Gallardo won the 2011 Kinder Excellence in Teaching Award.

Hannah Gamble won the National Poetry Series. Her book Your Invitation to a Modest Breakfast will be published by Fence Books in 

News about Van Garrett’s trip to Latvia can be found on his website. Writers in the Schools supported this project through Amy Storrow at the Department of State. Van was featured in a TV story here.

Artist Raul Gonzalez (artist in residence with WITS) was the featured artist for Houston Community College Southwest’s celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month.

Janine Joseph was named one of the Best New Poets of 2011.

Former WITS writer Marc McKee published a new book titled Fuse.  You can purchase your copy at

Executive Director Robin Reagler’s chapbook Dear Red Airplane was published  by Seven Kitchens Press.

Tria Wood and partner-in-art Tara Conley announced that their art installation, My Life as a Doll, will open at DiverseWorks on November 11th, 2011—that’s right, 11/11/11!

Artists in the Schools Are the Answer!

Posted September 9, 2011 & filed under Notebook.

The President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities recently released a report entitled “Reinvesting in Arts Education: Winning America’s Future Through Creative Schools.”   It describes an educational system in crisis and suggests that arts-rich schools may be the answer to this country’s dire situation.

One of the most potent recommendations is to increase the number of working artists in long-term residencies in schools, especially underserved schools.  Since the 1980s, childhood arts education has declined 49 percent for African American children and 40 percent for Latino children.  The children who most need an arts education are being denied.

According to the report, the arts are absolutely crucial because they teach:

  • synthetic ability or generating new and novel ideas;
  • analytic ability or critical thinking which involves choosing which ideas to pursue; and
  • practical ability or translating ideas into action

The report states that the IBM 2010 Global CEO survey found that CEOs in 60 countries believe creativity is the most important leadership quality.  A study by the Conference board reports that employers rate creativity and innovation among the top five important skills for workers.  The same employers rank arts study as the second most important indicator of a potential creative worker.

Writers in the Schools (WITS) is at the forefront of creativity education.  We are recognized across the country for our strong programming and solid results in the classroom.  We mentor other arts organizations and provide training for artists, teachers, and administrators. The President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities validates what we’ve been doing for 27 years. Let’s help spread the word about how to build creative schools that work!

I Am a Poet

Posted January 10, 2011 & filed under Notebook.

I am a poet.

I am a metaphor that makes you think.

I am a rhyme.

I am the romantic feelings that make poems divine.

I am love.

I am the golden harp.

I am the veins that push the beautiful words to my poem heart.

I am Parris, the poet.

I am Poetry.

I write poems with life and make you happier.

I am poetry.

I bring feelings to light with love and laughter.

I am a poet.

By Parris, 16

Photo by harold.lloyd via Flickr

The Thread that Binds: Art by Houston Women

Posted March 4, 2008 & filed under Notebook.


WITS Writers Carina Gauna and Diana Muniz will be featured in an Art Exhibit at MECA running from March 1 – 15. “The Thread that Binds” is part of an exhibition of female artists from diverse backgrounds and cultures. The public is invited to the Opening Reception on March 6th, 2008, at MECA.

Visual Art Exhibit: The Thread that Binds

ON DISPLAY: March 1-15, 2008
Featuring work from female artists from diverse backgrounds and cultures in celebration of Women’s Month.

OPENING RECEPTION: Thursday, March 6, 2008 – 7 p.m. at MECA (MAP: Click Here)



  1900 Kane Street
Houston, TX 77007
  Time:7:00 PM

(photo by sillydog via flickr)

Tell Me About Your Heart

Posted February 13, 2008 & filed under Notebook.

Every Valentine’s day, I feel laurenlevyinundated with images of hearts. Construction paper heart cutouts decorate classrooms and hallways, and it feels as if I can’t walk into any sort of shop without being bombarded by floating balloon hearts, candy-filled cardboard hearts, ceramic cup hearts, tiny candy conversation hearts, stuffed fabric hearts. In all their material glory, these saccharine proxies for love never adequately reflect the complexity of what our own hearts contain.

And so it was that about two years ago, I was delighted to see a beautiful untitled sculpture by native Texas artist Lauren Levy which featured a red button heart that bloomed pencil stubs. The inspiring play of delicacy, strength, preciousness and the everyday enchanted me; this image had captured something of what my heart really felt like.

I kick myself every day for not finding a way to purchase that sculpture. However, this artwork did inspire me to ask my young writers what they imagined their own hearts could be made of. With some consideration, these writers produced Valentine-themed poems much more interesting –and dare I say, more heartfelt— than the stock “Roses are red, violets are blue” Valentine chants. Here is one young girl’s response:

My Heart’s Expressions

My heart is a quiet room
filled with candles. My heart
is red and pink unique
buttons. My heart is a tiny
egg wanting to burst out,
with sounds of little baby
puppies whimpering for milk.
My heart is a pocket for
people I love. My heart is
a place for red juicy punch.tria
My heart is a purple silk
ribbon waiting to be untied.

by Audie, 2nd grade

posted by Tria Wood, Writers in the Schools

Another Op: Frodo’s Notebook

Posted September 28, 2007 & filed under Notebook.

Frodo’s Notebook publishes exceptional writing and art online by kids ages 13-19. If you’re interested in submitting to this journal, read several back issues to get a sense of the kind of work that they publish. The details of how to make your submission are here.


Posted July 13, 2007 & filed under Notebook.

frida_kahlo_self_portrait.jpgShe is bleeding.
It looks like she’s angry.

She’s probably mad at her husband.
She doesn’t look like she’s in pain.
She’s letting the bird hang on her neck.
She looks like she got out of a wreck.
The thorn branches represent her anger.
The monkey is messing with one of the branches.
The cat is hiding behind her neck.
The cat might represent her anger too.
It’s a black cat.
She looks serious.
She looks like if anything gets in her way,
She would mess something up.
The flowers represent her sensitivity
And the butterfly.
She feels like nobody respects her or
Pays attention to her.

by Victor, age 17, Texas Children’s Hospital – Renal Division