Posted May 30, 2012 & filed under Notebook.

Who is sweet and innocent in Beeville?

The pine and oak trees that are as

old as dust with no leaves.  The drought

has been tough. The cattle have no

grass, and the little league fields

are beginning to look like dirt roads.

The drought has definitely not been

sweet and innocent, sweet and innocent

like my old and gray, dark-skinned

grandma who lives among the winding back

roads. Dirt roads winding like snakes among

the brush, filled in with worn-down gravel.

There’s nothing here but a few houses

made of petrified wood, scattered among

the flat grassland where the ranchers

let their herds graze, undisturbed.

By Benito, 10th grade

Journey to the ‘City of Gold and Silver’

Posted February 7, 2012 & filed under Notebook.

Writers in the Schools partners with Beeville ISD for intensive writing project

When we think of big cities, we think of tightly packed, vertical apartments, clustered skyscrapers, and commuter-filled trains. But to the residents of Beeville, TX, the “big city” means the colossal sprawl Houston. During our wonderful visit to Beeville, we found that our students’ initial interest in us centered on our metropolitan origins. For many of them, Houston is a mythical land accessible only by traveling sports teams, a land filled with shopping malls, upscale restaurants, and, strangest of all, professional writers.

“Are you a real writer?” students asked. When we showed them our books or told them about our projects, many seemed to be in awe.

Perhaps this is part of why the students at Moreno Middle School, where the three of us spent two intensive days teaching creative writing, were so engaged. “They never write that much for me,” one teacher told us. It was clear, however, that many of the students had a genuine interest in writing, and were excited to meet adults who had prioritized it in their lives.

We worked with the students to develop an understanding of the key elements of narrative and poetry. We collaborated on story arcs and invented our own cities, some even stranger than Houston. We were truly impressed by their quick grasp of writing concepts like imagery and simile, as seen in this poem by Ms. Mertz’s student, Ysidro:

City of Gold and Silver

Through the walls of gold

you can feel the cool breeze of the morning

the ground still wet from the morning dew

as you look off the diamond balcony you can see

the houses made of gold and silver

with light posts still glowing with embers

the sun is like an orange small and still

as you walk down the stairs the library is still and calm

you slowly walk in the city of gold and silver

with the strange markings on the walls

everyone still sleeping except for the old man

the old man sitting on a gold rocking chair cursing at the


as the day goes on the city turns brighter

than the sun itself and after the hours of sun

night falls with a still glow and the city of gold and silver

is still bright.

This poem testifies to the dedication and talent of Moreno’s teachers, who made us feel welcome in their classrooms and even thanked us during a school assembly. We left Beeville feeling a little sorry to go and hopeful for another chance to leave the big city and return.

By Ryler Dustin, Jesse Donaldson, and Becca Wadlinger, Writers in the Schools

Writers in the Schools thanks Tracy Saucier and The Joe Barnhart Foundation for making this experience possible.