Meta-Fourth Friday (For Poets Only)

Posted January 29, 2014 & filed under Notebook.

WITS offers writing workshops and poetry slams for young writers between the ages of 13-19. Please join us for Meta-Fourth Friday. Because of the winter weather,it is rescheduled for Friday, January 31st, held 7 -9 PM at Hope Stone, 1210 West Clay, Suite 26, (the cross street is Van Buren) Houston, TX 77019.

This free program will teach you how to write and perform original poetry about issues that are important to you. Share your work in a supportive environment and grow as a writer.wits metafour houston 813

Creative Writing for Teens

Posted August 20, 2013 & filed under Notebook.

m4 kidsWord! is a series of 9 poetry/creative writing workshops provided by Hope Stone and Writers in the Schools (WITS). Students will work with a published WITS writer to explore ideas and get inspired by literature.  As a community of writers, we will workshop these inspirations into polished poems, stories, or memoir.

When: Fridays from 6:30-8:00pm

Where: Hope Stone, 1210 West Clay, Suite 26, Houston, 77019

Ages: 12-16

Cost: $185 for nine workshop sessions

Dates for 9 classes:

September 13, 20
October 4, 11, 18
November 1, 8, 15
December 6

To register, click here.  See you in class!

 

Calling All Writers!

Posted July 8, 2013 & filed under Notebook.

yayWriters in the Schools (WITS) is now hiring part-time writers and educators who can share their passion for creative writing during the 2013-2014 school year. If you are interested, please complete our online applicationIn addition to the application, we ask that you include a cover letter, résumé with 3 references, and 10-page writing sample. Read more about the position hereApplications are due Monday, August 5, 2013

“Thank you, Writers in the Schools, for giving me the best job I ever had.”   -Katherine Center, former WITS writer and best-selling author

The Watchful Eye: A WITS Student Reading

Posted May 15, 2013 & filed under Notebook.

WITS students visit cultural venues such as The Heritage Society year-roundJoin Writers in the Schools (WITS) and the Menil Collection for an evening of student readings, Thursday, May 23 at 7:00 PM at  the Menil Collection. The Watchful Eye feature the poems and prose of WITS students, grades K-12, inspired by works exhibited at the Menil Collection.

A collaboration that began in 1989, WITS and the Menil Collection combined their knowledge and resources to create a program that uses art to construct a dialogue that inspires creative writing in Houston’s youth.

When: Thursday, May 23rd, at 7:00 PM

Where: The Menil Collection, 1533 Sul Ross

Free admission, open to the public

Between the Lines: An International Writing Program

Posted March 28, 2013 & filed under Notebook.

BTL 450x388 2010 Boys writingIf you are a writer between the ages of 16-19, don’t miss out on a opportunity to apply to Between the Lines, a program that brings youth to the University of Iowa for a creating writing program with youth from around the world.

This year features two sessions, one connecting youth from the US with writers from 17 countries in the Near East (June 22-July 6) and the second connecting youth from the US with writers from Russia (July 13-July 27).

Young writers get the chance to be exposed to world literatures and improve their writing skills.  Classes and workshops are taught by prize-winning poets and writers.

To create a vital creative community, all writers live in a dorm on the University of Iowa campus and share in evening cultural activities.

The deadline to apply is April 20th!  Visit the University of Iowa’s Between the Lines website for more information and to see if you or your child qualifies for a full scholarship.

Aunt Polly Dolly

Posted March 6, 2013 & filed under Notebook.

 

Whenever my aunt comes into town, we have lots of fun. She’s my mom’s sister and we call her Polly Dolly.  She is very funny and crazy.  She wears boots and furry scarves around her neck, and she knows how to talk with lots of different accents.  If you’re bored, she always says, “Make some fun!”  She’s good at turning a regular day into something interesting.  When my little brother is sad, she puts spoons on her nose and makes them stick.  When my little sister is yelling and being bad, she will crawl around on the floor and play pony with her.  She can cheer me up when I feel depressed.  I hope I grow up to be just like my aunt.

By Annette, 3rd grade

That’s Up to You

Posted March 4, 2013 & filed under Notebook.

 

One day I was running through the woods.  It felt great, like my lungs were going to burst.  I kept going, never wanting to stop.  Suddenly, I saw something in the flowers move.  It looked like a fairy girl, and she was waving her arms in the air.  I stopped to see what I was looking at.  I was sure it must be the medicine I was taking that was making me see things.  But, there she was, a tiny girl with long hair and big eyes and wings. I asked her what she wanted.  She said, “To be happy.”  I said, “That’s up to you.”  Then, I kept running.

By Sariah, 4th grade

Elephant March I

Posted February 26, 2013 & filed under Notebook.

WITS Intern Eriel

WITS Intern Eriel

From WITS Intern Eriel:

A little under a month ago I started working with WITS Writer MaryScott at Travis Elementary as an assistant teacher. In the past I’ve worked as an “In-home Tutor” for my siblings, cousins, second cousins, the younger siblings of friends, my neighbors’ kids, and so on. However, I’ve never taught within an actual classroom, especially with kids I’ve never met or even seen before. My biggest worries the night before were whether jeans  were too casual for my first day, if Hannah Montana was still relevant, and if the fourth graders would be taller than me (sadly, most of them are!).

One of our first lessons together focused on using concrete words and abstractions in poetry. MaryScott had each student draw two cards from two separate envelopes; one envelope had cards with abstract words on them and the other had cards with names for various locations. From there, the students would combine the two words to create a poem. Be it “The Gas Station of Awkwardness” to “The Cafeteria of Freedom,” “The Ice Cream Truck of Sadness” to “The Broom Closet of Success” – these kids produced some of the most imaginative and comedic pieces I have ever seen young minds compose.
Bio
The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales by Jon Scieszka, Lane Smith (Illustrator)

The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales by Jon Scieszka, Lane Smith (Illustrator)

Born and raised in Houston, I was home schooled for six years by my parents before attending a private school for my final years of high school. You could say homeschooling permitted me some free time. I was able to split my time between class by day and theater by night, singing lessons once a week, and, of course, writing every single day. Currently, I am more than halfway through my second year as an honors student at the University of Houston, where I am pursuing a double major in Creative Writing (fiction concentration) and Journalism (print sequence), and a minor in Creative Work, through which I received my internship with Writers in the Schools. I started at WITS back in October, and after the first day, on which I was shown to their library and asked to organize it, I was in love. From skimming through “Harold & The Purple Crayon” to admiring the artwork in “The Stinky Cheese Man,” I could almost smell my first day of Kindergarten right there.

DSC_1586I will be writing a series of blog posts that peer into a WITS classroom and my experience. I know, it’s an odd title. Why “Elephant March”? A) My abnormal fascination with the creatures, B) “Elephant” was my nickname in elementary school and since my time at Travis marks my “return to elementary” school, I thought it was appropriate, and C) Elementary school kids “march” everywhere they go, I’ve noticed, whether it’s to the bathroom or across the room, they march – one foot after the other, almost militantly. I remember being ‘taught’ by my first grade teacher to walk that way – her way of taking the ‘one foot after the other, hands behind our backs’ rule to the extreme.

One Voice Poetic Choir Tonight!

Posted February 22, 2013 & filed under Notebook.

As a featured component of Society for Performing Art’s Movement Toward Literacy initiatives and its Performance Prelude series, Writers in the Schools’ Meta-Four Houston is producing the One Voice Poetic Choir. Tonight, young poets will perform an original collaborative poem in the Grand Foyer of the Wortham Center as a prelude to the dance concert by Motionhouse. Members of the choir received complimentary tickets to Motionhouse this month and to see STOMP perform at Jones Hall last month.

Join us at the Wortham Center’s Grand Foyer before 7pm to catch the One Voice Poetic Choir and stop by the WITS information table to say hello!

Images from Angela LaMonte Only Once Images

Images from Angela LaMonte Only Once Images

About Meta-Four Houston

Meta-Four holds monthly workshops that encourage teenage writers to develop their work and expand their artistic processes. For teens who are completely new to poetry, getting involved in Meta-Four is a great way to share ideas, receive feedback, and find inspiration. Meta-Four also holds monthly slams that allow more experienced poets to compete and share their work in a safe and encouraging environment. Writers of all backgrounds and skill levels will be both supported and spurred by this spoken word program.

One of the things that makes Meta-Four great is its leader. The program is headed by slam veteran and Houston poet laureate nominee, Outspoken Bean. “Bean”, as he is commonly called, is an expert at both performing poetry and coaching poets. His skill as a writer and performer has led him to open for such well-renowned names as Talib Kweli, Buddy Wakefield, and Cornel West. And Bean’s natural proficiency as a leader and teacher had allowed him to champion his former college team to regional victory in his very first coaching experience. With Bean at its head, Meta-Four is capable of honing any youth writer into a performer and competitor.

Another reason to get involved in Meta-Four is that it helps poets to branch out and find like minds. Every year Meta-Four, sends 4 to 6 of its poets to an international slam poetry competition called Brave New Voices which draws in hundreds of the best youth poets in the world. These competitions have taken place in states across the country, from California to New York and participants have come from places as far as England, Guam, and South Africa to take part. Meta-Four’s involvement in Brave New Voices provides a way for Houston youth to network with other teens.

The upcoming Brave New Voices competition will take place in Chicago, Illinois. To help Meta-Four prepare for this competition, WITS will be providing space for workshops and rehearsals, as well as helping Coach Bean to schedule features and performances all around Houston which exhibit the Meta-Four slam team’s material. These features help writers get comfortable performing, while also exposing the city to the talent its youth possesses. These workshops, rehearsals and features were a vital part of Meta-Four’s success last year. Our team went on to place 21st in the Brave New Voices competition and land a feature spot on the semi-final stage. WITS hopes to help Meta-Four’s 2013 team duplicate, and even surpass that level of success in this year’s competition, while encouraging all of its young poets to write and perform to the best of their abilities.

by WITS Intern and former Meta-Four Member Jeremy

Black Rock Today

Posted February 20, 2013 & filed under Notebook.

Student writing at the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center

Student writing at the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center

Today I am a small, black, little thing,
the size of a quarter.
Today I am a rock with a message saying “don’t go there.”
Today I am a rock with no reason and no purpose
but to sit there in the soft, mushy soil.
Today I am life,
I am light.
Today I am flight.

by Zachary, 4th grade

 

Forest Life

Posted February 11, 2013 & filed under Notebook.

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If I lived in the forest, I would see turtles
and smell the flowers.
I would be a bird and fly away,
and would climb trees so high…
I would even jump in the water
with the turtles,
and give them food,
and they’d better not bite my fingers
or I would scream!
If I lived in the forest, I would touch
the mushrooms and they would be soft.
I would be a bird and make bird sounds.

by Mackenzie, 3rd grade

Writers in the Schools has partnered with the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center since 2002 to engage urban youth with their environment, exposing and educating students on the natural world.

Creative Writing Camp

Posted February 7, 2013 & filed under Notebook.

Registration is filling up quickly!

Within the first 20 minutes of open registration, over 100 students enrolled in Creative Writing Camp, a WITS record! Though it comes as no surprise – with our 8 campuses, 70 classrooms, and now 23 years of camp – that parents and kids look to Creative Writing Camp as a staple of their summer plans. Enroll now and find out why Houston Press described the workshops as the “best effort to inject culture into Houston” and AOL City’s Best listed it among Houston’s 6 Best Summer Camps for Kids.

About Creative Writing Camp

Creative Writing Camp offers a supportive environment where children engage in writing stories, poetry, essays, and plays, as well as simply reading for pleasure. Through these activities even the most hesitant child discovers the joy in writing, the intrigue of language, and the confidence of authorship. Students will work with teachers and writers, and the low teacher-student ratios ensure individual attention. Workshops end with a culminating performance and/or reading, and each child will receive an anthology with their published work.

A Collaboration

The Summer Creative Writing Workshops are offered by Writers in the Schools in collaboration with Rice University’s School Literacy and Culture Project (SLC).

Check out the 2012 Camp Highlights:

2012 Creative Writing Camp Highlights from Writers in the Schools on Vimeo.

An Evening of Literary Placemaking

Posted February 5, 2013 & filed under Notebook.

Writing__CSiting_Houston_-_Banner

Join Writing & C/Siting Houston for an event featuring WITS founder Philip Lopate, WITS Writer Miah Arnold, and great friend of WITS, Bill Monroe, as they share stories about the special places that make the Bayou City unique.

When: Wednesday, February 6th at 7:00 pm

Where: University of Houston Honors Commons (212 MD Anderson Library)

More about the readers:

Phillip Lopate has written three personal essay collections – Bachelorhood (Little, Brown, 1981), Against Joie de Vivre (Poseidon-Simon & Schuster, 1989) and Portrait of My Body (Doubleday-Anchor, 1996); two novels, Confessions of Summer (Doubleday, 1979) and The Rug Merchant (Viking, 1987); a pair of novellas; three poetry collections, The Eyes Don’t Always Want to Stay Open (Sun Press, 1972), The Daily Round (Sun Press, 1976) and At the End of the Day (Marsh Hawk Press, 2010); and a memoir of his teaching experiences, Being With Children (Doubleday, 1975).

Miah Arnold is the author of Sweet Land of Bigamy, and a number of short pieces of literature. Her essay “You Owe Me” will appear in Best American Essays 2012. She earned a Ph.D. in writing and literature at the University of Houston. She teaches adults and children throughout Houston in University and nonprofit settings. She has served as a fiction editor at Gulf Coast and a poetry editor at Lyric Poetry Review. Her work has appeared in Michigan Quarterly Review, Nanofiction, Confrontation, Painted Bride Quarterly, and the South Dakota Review. She lives in Houston, Texas, with her husband and two children.

William Monroe is professor of English and Dean of the Honors College at the University of Houston. His book Power to Hurt: The Virtues of Alienation was selected as an outstanding academic book of the year by Choice magazine and nominated for the Phi Beta Kappa/Christian Gauss Award. His other publications include the play Primary Care, which deals with personhood issues related to Alzheimer’s Disease, and articles on T.S. Eliot, Vladimir Nabokov, and Willa Cather. He is currently at work on The Vocation of Affliction: Flannery O’Connor and American Mastery.

About Writing & C/Siting Houston: Writing & C/Siting Houston is a collaboration among Houston Arts Alliance Folklife + Traditional Arts Program, the Cultural Enrichment Center at the University of Houston-Downtown, and Houston Folklore Archive of the University of Houston and has been funded in part with support from the Texas Commission on the Arts, Humanities Texas, National Endowment for the Arts, and Houston Endowment Inc.

Click here for more information

I Believe

Posted January 30, 2013 & filed under Notebook.

DSC_1564

I believe in the pink, fresh flowers
That grow slowly in a garden.
I believe in the aroma of the strawberry, sweet perfume
That flows through the air.
I believe in the soft rain
That falls from the clouds to the ground.
I believe in the slippery black and white penguin
That plays with me.
I believe in the sour, yellow lemon with salt
That I adore.
I believe that one day I will see all of nature
That I am missing.
I believe in me.

by Julieta, 3rd grade

Dare to Dream Writing Contest

Posted January 28, 2013 & filed under Notebook.

Dare to Dream Cvr
The Dare to Dream … Change the World Annual Writing Contest for Kids aims to promote literacy, poetry writing, and nonfiction research while inspiring students to follow their dreams. It’s based on the award-winning Dare to Dream … Change the World (Kane Miller Books, 2012), which pairs biographical and inspirational poems about people who not only changed their own lives, but the lives of people all over the world. Click here for more information.
CONTEST DETAILS
WHO: For students in 3rd through 8th grade.
WHAT: Following the format of the book, students will write a biographical poem and non-fiction paragraph about someone who not only dreamed, but who took action and made the world better.
HOW: Send your entry by e-mail to [email protected], subject line of “DARE TO DREAM Writing Contest.” Be sure to include your first name only, your e-mail address and your parents’ e-mail address.
DEADLINE: April 30, 2013

In My Dreams

Posted January 25, 2013 & filed under Notebook.

In partnership with Aurora Picture Show’s Media Arts Instructors Felisa Prieto and Camilo Gonzalez, students at KIPP Academy created short films from poems written in their WITS program with writer Autumn Hayes. Aurora was brought in to collaborate on creating stop-motion animation films from these poems. Enjoy!

To The Lady in White Cloth

Posted January 21, 2013 & filed under Notebook.

I saw your photo.
You were sitting in a police car;
you were going to jail.
You were strange
because you were not crying
when I saw you.
Just eating in a white
restaurant, that should not
have been big trouble.
You were fighting for your rights,
your rights as a citizen of these United States.
I know your dream is peace,
is calm,
is equality.
Maybe your children
wait for you at home;
maybe your sister needs
help with the cooking;
maybe your dear husband
wants to give you a birthday surprise.
But everything was broken
by the foolish rule about skin color.
Now, because of your courage,
your dream has come true.
Our dream has come true.
Everyone is equal in this free country,
whatever their skin color.
And we even have
an African American president
in our great country.
Congratulations, madam,
you helped to make our history.
You are successful beyond your dream.

by Tianli, 10th grade

Published in the 2011 The Watchful Eye Anthology, inspired by Civil Rights-Era Photographs at the Menil Collection

Students Writing at the Menil

Students Writing at the Menil

Outside in Winter

Posted January 18, 2013 & filed under Notebook.

I am outside looking at the snow falling, and I hear the wind blowing the trees.
I am outside smelling the hot chocolate and hearing the birds.
I am walking and looking at the animals outside.
Children are playing and people are saving the plants.
I am looking at my family playing.

by Jorge, 3rd grade

Meet New WITS Writer Delicia Daniels

Posted January 14, 2013 & filed under Notebook.

Delicia Daniels is a poet, essayist, and biographer. She received her B.A. in English from Dillard University and her M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Chicago State University. She is the founder of Dark Symphony, a new literary journal at Wiley College. Her publications most recently appeared in WarpLand, and Cream City Review. Ms. Daniels is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor of English at Texas Southern University.

You can read a poem by Delicia here.

Delicia’s thoughts on working at WITS: 

Poetry is limitless. I hope to spread the beauty of its craft, highlight the trailblazing poets who strived to give it wings, and encourage the students participating in Writers in the Schools to own their place in its universe.

Delicia was greatly influenced by:  I Wish I had Duck Feet by Theo. LeSieg:

Say!

I know what!

I wish I had

two horns up on my head!

I wish I had two deer horns.

They would be a lot of fun.

Then I could wear

ten hats up there!

Big Bill can just wear one.

I think they would

be very good

to have when I play ball.

Then nobody could stop me.

No, sir! Nobody at all!

My horns could carry

Books and stuff

Like paper, pens and strings

and apples for my teacher

and a lot of other things!

BUT…

If I had big deer horns,

I would never

get a ride.

I could never ride the school bus.

I could never get inside!

………………………………………………………….etc

……………………………………………………………

……………………………………………………………

AND SO…

I think there are some things

I do not wish to be.

And that is why

I think that I

just wish to be like ME.

Tonight! Meta-Fourth Friday

Posted January 11, 2013 & filed under Notebook.

Meta-Four-Jan-11

All Houston area youth ages 13-18 are invited to participate in the city’s first poetic choir. Come out tonight to Hope Stone Studio (1210 West Clay Street) 7-9pm for more information-its not too late to join! All participating students will perform at the Wortham Center Feb. 22. A special thank you to the Society of Performing Arts and Houston Public Library for making this all possible. Here is the calendar for the One Voice Poetic Choir:

January 11 (Fri)  

“One Voice Poetic Choir” Practice @ Hope Stone 7-9pm

January 25 (Fri)

Meta-Fourth Friday @ Jones Hall 6-7:30pm practice (8pm STOMP show time, students will be seated by 7:50) Food will be provided

February 16 (Sat)

“One Voice Poetic Choir” Run-through @ TBD location 10am-12pm

February 22 (Fri)

Meta-Fourth Friday “One Voice Poetic Choir” Performance @ Wortham Center arrive at 6pm, performance at 7pm (Food will be provided)