Going to my Grandparents’ House

Posted December 29, 2013 & filed under Notebook.

Going into my grandparents’ house,
seeing the flower bed worked on
and the peach trees watered,
the greetings of loved ones.
Walking into a house of smells,
smells of different food being prepared
and the language unknown to me but still beautiful,
the bowl of fresh beans.
Walking outside to the dogs full of joy,
my grandmother hanging the clothes
as the breeze comes along,
seeing my grandfather relaxing on a rocking chair,
seeing the little ones getting eggs from the pens
and picking from the garden,
watching tractors go by daily as we ride them,
the guns shooting in the clear open sky.
The night comes as we come together
around a fire that we surround,
Watching the stars shoot by as we end our day.
by Jonathan, 10th grade


Posted November 20, 2012 & filed under Notebook.

crowded smiles rise to the occasion:

mouth watering stories     generations of grace

marshall, texas unravels sweet aroma

moist pecan pie    fresh   cultivated

trailblazing hands of Bessie Hopkins with love

her sweetest gift and first love—-

Mack C. Hopkins—one of the first

African-American Valedictorians from Wiley College

memory sends crisp crumbs

twirling along the edge of swiveling lips

warm sunlight penetrates windowpanes

sheds light on the main course

one plump golden smoked turkey

topped with cornbread stuffing

crunchy green bean casserole

rich cranberry sauce

dessert deserving of a Poet—

pristine peach pie drizzled in cool whip cream

juicy cherry pie

a satisfying jolt

to Mack Hopkins, named for this father

joins The Tuskegee Airmen and

our gathered hearts

weds man and mission for the

famed 301st  fighter squadron: 

the 332nd fighter group

joins Pauline Hopkins’ hand in marriage

exceptional bliss

blesses heaven with Bessie Hopkins,

Mack C. Hopkins, and Pauline Hopkins

on November, 16, 1996 at the

age of 79

We celebrate the men and women

linking our lives to innovate spirit

We celebrate their sacrifices

swift determination     psalm

We celebrate to preserve    punctuate

press on

We celebrate collectively

the weight

for Bessie Hopkins, Mack C. Hopkins, Pauline Hopkins, & Mack Hopkins

By WITS Writer Delicia Daniels

WITS Writer Janine Joseph Pens Opera Opening Nov. 3

Posted November 2, 2012 & filed under Notebook.

Photo courtesy HGOco

WITS Writer Janine Joseph Pens Opera

WITS Writer Janine Joseph collaborates with composer Jeeyoung Kim in From My Mother’s Mother, an opera about a young Korean-American woman dealing with the traditions of her family’s culture.

The world premiere of From My Mother’s Mother is scheduled for 1 p.m. November 3 at Discovery Green.

Additional performances:

-1 p.m. Sunday, November 4, at Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Brown Auditorium (1001 Bissonnet)

-6 p.m. Wednesday, November 7, at Houston Public Library, Julia Ideson Building Auditorium (500 McKinney Street) 

-12pm and 7 p.m. Friday, November 9, at the University of Houston, Jose Quintero Theatre (133 Cynthia Woods Mitchell)

For information, visit the HGO website or call 713-546-0230. Sung in English. Free. Read the full Houston Press Article

Last Few Days of Summer

Posted August 13, 2012 & filed under Notebook.


Every time I walk in my room

I feel a great breeze of hot air
And a great pool of sunlight
That doesn’t make me freeze.
When I look at my bed
I see only one layer of blankets,
And if I look at the ceiling
I see a fan blowing air.

Outside everyone plays in the water
Splashing each other,
Building sand castles,
Or laying on a chair
Feeling the nice warm sunlight.

I can feel the warm sunlight on me
As I walk toward the water.
I have pale skin,
But in the summer
It’s pretty red.

Does anyone have suntan lotion?

by Bryson, 3rd grade

“My Alone Blues” from Creative Writing Camp

Posted July 23, 2012 & filed under Notebook.

WITS Writer Sarah Gajkowski-Hill

WITS Writer Sarah Gajkowski-Hill is a poet and local writer who reviews art, music, food, and individuals for publications such as 002 Houston Magazine and the Rice University Jones Business Journal. Gajkowski-Hill has been married to a local teacher for a decade and has three children who attend Travis Elementary School: Magdalena, Jude, and Frances Lisieux. Her most recent poetry has been published in Relief Journal and Dappled Things.

At the AOS campus, Sarah’s group played Sam Lightnin’ Hopkins’ “Houston Bound.” After talking about the origin and stylistic attributes of the blues genre, they read a chorus from “San Francisco Blues” by Jack Kerouac. Gajkowski-Hills says, “We talked about what bums kids out, and Sarah was feeling down that day about being an only child, which brought about “My Alone Blues”!”

My Alone Blues

Music inspiring campers

I’m all alone
Nothing to do
I’m as blue as
A blue sky day
Nothing bluer
Than that.
I’m all alone
Only toys and me.
If only I had
A sibling.
I’m all alone

And nothing to do.

I’m bluer than blue paint

On a blue day.

So hey, I’m all alone
And nothing to do,
I got the alone blues.

by Sarah, 4th grade

On the Other Side

Posted October 18, 2011 & filed under Notebook.

          Being on the other side of cancer is easier than being in the middle.  When you’re in the middle, it’s like being at sea and not knowing where you’re going.  Some days were easy, while others were very challenging.  The best parts of being sick were seeing all the friendly nurses and doing art and writing songs.  The worst parts were losing some friends and seeing my mom in so much pain and not being able to see people I loved.  I felt weak and nauseous a lot of the time, but now on the other side, I’ve learned about my self and life.  I know kids can get very sick, I know I can get through tough times, I know that prayer works, and I know that my family will always be there for me.  So, if you are going through hard times, don’t give up hope.  Stay strong.

 By Mary Jo, 11

Capture My Heart

Posted February 25, 2011 & filed under Notebook.

Is this the whole picture?
Or is it just the start?
Is this the way you love me?
You’re capturing my heart.

I used to try and walk as one,
but I’ve begun to grow.
When you tell me just to rest,
I’m finally letting go.

I let go,
and I’m here to stay.
I know nothing can separate us;
I know I’m okay.

You cradle me gently,
I know I’m not alone.
Wrapped in your arms,
I’m home.

I’m seeing so much clearer,
looking through your eyes.
I could never find a safer place,
even if I tried.

All the times I’ve needed you,
you’ve never left my side.

I’m here to stay.

By Alyssa, 2nd Grade

Photo by Norfolk Belle via Flickr

Where I’m From

Posted December 17, 2010 & filed under Notebook.

I’m from the smell

of strawberry muffins

and blueberry waffles.

I’m from the sound

of the blue waves,

from missing my

cousin’s voice.

I’m from laughter

and every time

we chased him around.

I’m from the sweet


that shines so bright.

I’m from Christmas

and nights when we

just have fun.

By Bria, 4th grade

Discounted Tickets for Friends of WITS — 40% Off

Posted October 19, 2010 & filed under Notebook.

Writers in the Schools (WITS) is offering a special discounted ticket to the annual A Celebration of Story gala on November 4th. For a limited time only, the $250 seats are available for $150.  Come meet Jeannette Walls, best-selling author of The Glass Castle, in a rare Houston visit.

Jeannette’s story about  how she survived a dysfunctional upbringing of poverty and abandonment to become an award-winning author has inspired millions of readers to share their own stories about overcoming adversity.

Jeannette’s memoirs, The Glass Castle and Half-Broke Horses, will be on sale courtesy of Brazos Bookstore. Proceeds from the event  will support creative writing programs for under-served children.  Purchase your ticket today by clicking here or call 713-523-3877.

Critics have called Jeannette Walls’ memoir, The Glass Castle, “spectacular,” “extraordinary,” “incredible,” and “riveting.” It has been a New York Times best-seller for more than three years, has sold more than two million copies, been translated into 16 languages, and is being made into a movie by Paramount. Read more

WITS has been engaging students in the pleasure and power of reading and writing since 1983. Thank you for helping us to bring the joy of writing to the children who need it most.


Posted October 13, 2010 & filed under Notebook.



Well, here I am drunk in my thoughts .

I’ve been searching for you far and near.

Remembering the times you enchanted my mind with stories of your mountains, ranch, beasts, and breathing free air.

I’ve come to the ranch seeking council and comfort reviewing intimate events in my life.

Here I stand remembering your stories, living, drinking, and breathing the free air.

As I stand my ground firmly on the mountain, it whispers to me “Where is your Abuelo? Is he near?”

All I can do is shed a tear and whisper back, “He’s sleeping and he’s found an eternal peace.”

Since your timid good-bye you left me lost and searching for an idol.  Since then I don’t know the meaning of peace.

I seek it now in a young woman named Vickie; she’s accepted me in her life, and she’s taking good care of me.

Do you know I’ve found true happiness in this young woman? Do you realize I’m starting my life?

Abuelo, do you feel me? Do you watch over me? Do you hear when I pray for you?

Do you realize I’ll keep asking these questions until the day I meet up with you?

I hope you know I still miss you, and I’m still recovering from your loss.

Have you taken a look at the family lately; the struggle goes on and on.

Look over the ranch and mountains, Abuelo, for they will forever mourn their king’s loss.

Remember this nieto in your prayers, Abuelo, he loves you and keeps you in his heart.

By Chris, 12th Grade

The Lost Giraffe

Posted October 8, 2010 & filed under Notebook.



On a sunny savannah land,
A giraffe has a friend,
One big fat hippo,
Both sit down in the sun that glows.

Exhausted and tired, from playing all around,
The giraffe stands up and hears a soft sound,
It goes to the jungle, and into the trees,
And now the giraffe must leave to see.

He follows the sound,
And looks all around,
But now, uh oh, he’s lost in the trees,
Now in the jungle; it’s too dark to see.

The lost giraffe must find his way out,
But first he must know what the sound is about,
He looks high and low, but no luck here,
The sound, hooray! It’s back in his ear!

Now the lost giraffe knows, the sound is a hiss!
He might have had an idea of what it is,
A slithery figure comes at his feet,
The lost giraffe sees he has to flee.

After realizing he’s gone,
The big hippo knows something’s wrong,
For the giraffe is missing,
Because he had heard the hissing.

The hippo told the giraffe’s parents,
And they stopped running their errands,
They can’t find him, oh how sad can they be,
The giraffe was missing, and nowhere to be seen.

The lost giraffe ran with all his might,
But now, hoorah!  He sees a dim light,
The lost giraffe is happy again,
He thinks, he will, he knows, he can!

The lost giraffe saw his home,
And saw his father, who had let out a groan,
The lost giraffe was lost no more,
He let out a mighty, happy roar.

The found giraffe had a party in his savannah,
There were lots of balloons and a big piñata,
The found giraffe was very happy,
He had lots of fun with his friends and family.

By Alejandro, 5th Grade

Mi Caja del Bien y del Mal – My Box of Good and Evil

Posted September 13, 2010 & filed under Notebook.


Por favor dime dónde está la risa.
Dime dónde está la alegría.
Dime dónde está la dulzura.
Dime dónde está el poder.
Dime dónde está la fuerza.
Dime dónde está la protección.
Dime dónde está mi familia.
Dime dónde está la abundancia.
Dime dónde está la felicidad.
Dime dónde está la gente.
Dime dónde está la grandeza.


My Box of Good and Evil Box (Translation)

Please tell me where is the laughter.
Tell me where is happiness.
Tell me where is sweetness.
Tell me where is power.
Tell me where is strength.
Tell me where is protection.
Tell me where is my family.
Tell me where is abundance.
Tell me where are the people.
Tell me where is greatness.

By Alondra, 2nd grade

Photo by Visualist Images via Flickr

My Garden

Posted September 9, 2010 & filed under Notebook.


My mom told me to plant a story, so I took my pencil
shovel and planted her past. I planted my mom and my
uncle as kids. My uncle Joe would always get into
trouble. My mom would too, because my uncle played
marbles with his friends, and my mom would whine
because she wanted to play. So my uncle would have to
take care of her everywhere they went or he would get
in trouble. I took my pencil shovel and I planted my
mom as a kid, and she was happy to remember.

By David, 3rd grade

Photo by sGrace via Flickr


Posted September 2, 2010 & filed under Notebook.

I have never met my grandparents before, but my mom told me about them. She told me that my grandpa got milk from the cow and made it into cheese then sold it. She told me that they had lots of animals, like cows, pigs, horses, dogs, sheep, and goats. When my mom was little, my grandpa gave her a horse for her birthday. Her name was Star. My mom told me once there was a fox that was trying to get in the chicken pen and eat a chicken, but my grandpa saw it and scared it away. My mom looked in our closet to find a picture of Mexico that they took with the animals and my grandparents and my mom when she was little. First I saw a picture of a pig named Gordita, and she had piglets that he sold. Whenever there were baby chicks, cows, horses or goats, my grandpa would sell them. My grandma took a picture of the dog playing with the chicken. There was some stuff in the box with the pictures. There was a sombrero and a little statue of a Chihuahua dancing the Mexican hat dance. She put the box away and started thinking about going to Mexico. It’s a gateway to a lifetime.

by Christian, 4th grade

In the Mall of My Mind

Posted June 25, 2010 & filed under Notebook.


In the mall of my mind,
I would sell cars and clothes,
to those who are less fortunate.
I would sell peace
to children with no quiet home.
I would sell wisdom
to this young boy
who is now
the man of the house.

By Marcos, 10th grade
Photo by Bamasusanna via Flickr

My Father is Like a Tulip

Posted June 18, 2010 & filed under Notebook.


Mi papá es como un tulipán

Mi papá es un hombre cariñoso.
Tiene mucha amistad con mi mamá
Y le tiene mucho amor y amistad a todos.
El nos quiere mucho.
El es como un tulipán
que nos da mucho cariño,
que nos da mucho amor
y mucha amistad.
El quiere mucho a mi mamá.
A veces le ayuda a lavar los trastes.
Mi papá es como un tulipán que tiene mucha amistad.


My Father is Like a Tulip

My father is a loving man.
He shows much kindness to my mother.
And he shows much kindness and love to all.
He loves us very much.
He is like a tulip
that shows us all kindness,
that shows us all love
and friendship.
He loves my mother very much.
Sometimes, he helps her wash the dishes.
My father is like a tulip, full of kindness.

By Paulina, 3rd grade

[Photo by Denis Collette via Flickr]

Metáforas familiares ~ Family Metaphors

Posted June 3, 2010 & filed under Notebook.

[Photo by Chaval via Flickr]
Mi papá Juan es el rey de la casa.
Mi hermano Brandon es un buho en la noche, nunca se quiere dormir.
Mi hermano Emanuel es una abeja, le encantan los dulces.
Mi papá Juan es un gallo porque se levanta temprano.
Mi prima es una gallina, siempre se asusta y llora.
Mi tío es una hormiga, trabaja todo el tiempo.
Mi hermano es una tortuga cuando se baña.
Mi primo Orlando es un ogro cuando se enoja.

My father Juan is the king of the house.
My brother Brandon is an owl at night, he never wants to sleep.
My brother Emanuel is a bee, he loves sweets.
My father is a rooster because he always wakes up early
My cousin is a chicken, she is always afraid and cries.
My uncle is an ant, he works all the time.
My brother is a turtle when he bathes.
My cousin Orlando is an ogre when he gets mad.

By Luis Flores, 3rd grade

Jazz and Poetry on June 4th

Posted May 31, 2008 & filed under Notebook.

Dacamera of Houston presents Jazz and Poetry featuring the Sam Dinkins III Quartet Wednesday, June 4, 2008 at 5:30 PM at the Houston Public Central Library.

Jazz drummer, bandleader and music educator Sam Dinkins III is a local legend.  He has worked with major artists such as Aretha Franklin, the queen of soul. He has received several awards and prestigious grants for his successful educational programs for inner-city youth.  He is the founder and director of the Dinky Drum Company, where children and adults learn about percussion through private and group instruction as well as performances and clinics.

Who: Jazz drummer Sam Dinkins III with his quartet

What: Jazz and Poetry

When: Wednesday, June 4, 2008 at 5:30 PM

Where: Houston Public Central Library, 500 McKinney, 77002

Why: To celebrate the grand re-opening of the Houston Public Library summer reading program.