Farewell National Poetry Month

Posted May 1, 2015 & filed under Poem of the Day.


This April, Writers in the Schools celebrated National Poetry Month and the power of the imagination, reaching 2.3 million people in Houston and beyond! Student words were spread through H-E-B markets, read each day on KPFT 90.1, and showcased during readings, workshops, and poetry slams around town. At the Space City Grand Slam, we selected the Meta-Four Houston team and announced the launch of Houston’s first-ever Youth Poet Laureate program in partnership with the City of Houston and the Houston Public Library. Poetry is alive, well, and making a real difference.

We would like to give a special thanks to our amazing partners and all of the people who support National Poetry Month. Thank you H-E-B Tournament of Champions, Copy.com, The City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance, Texas Commission on the Arts, KPFT 90.1, Susan Phillips for producing all of the wonderful audio for each Poem of the Day, London-based composer, Ketsa, for providing spectacular tracks to accompany the student poetry, and thank YOU, our readers, for enjoying and spreading poetry in our community.


Have a wonderful May!

Neptune Slam This Saturday

Posted April 2, 2014 & filed under Notebook.


Writers in the Schools (WITS) and Meta-Four Houston will host the Neptune Slam on Saturday, April 4th, at 11 am. Students ages 13-19, bring your best poem to the Stella Link Neighborhood Library for a chance to join the slam team that will represent Houston at Brave New Voices this summer. The event is FREE, and all are welcome to attend.

Free Spoken Word Workshops at HPL Smith Library

Posted December 16, 2013 & filed under Notebook.


WITS is offering free spoken word workshops for youth ages 13-18 every Wednesday through the Houston Public Library Smith Branch, led by WITS Writer and renowned performance poet Emanuelee “Outspoken” Bean.



December 4, 11, 18
January 8, 15, 22, 29
February 5, 12, 19

Location:  Smith Neighborhood Library
3624 Scott St,  Houston, TX 77004
(832) 393-2050

Cost: FREE

To find out about other FREE WITS workshops, click here.

Summer Book Clubs

Posted May 21, 2013 & filed under Notebook.


Remember to register your kids for the Houston Public Library Summer Reading Program.  Go Under Cover is for children up to 18 years of age. This is a free program that rewards reading with a free book for the home, plus other prizes.  You can register here.

If your child attends school in the Houston Independent School District, you can get double credit.  Sign up for the HISD Millionaire’s Club Summer Reading Program here and get more incentives for reading great books!


Mayor Parker Announces Houston’s First Poet Laureate

Posted April 11, 2013 & filed under Poem of the Day.

imagesMayor Annise D. Parker and Houston Public Library (HPL) Director Dr. Rhea Brown Lawson announced that Gwendolyn Zepeda has been selected as Houston’s first Poet Laureate.

Gwendolyn Zepeda, a Houston-based author, has published numerous works of fiction and poetry.  Her book of poems, It’s Zepeda Not Zapata, will be published in 2014. As Houston’s first Poet Laureate, she will do community outreach and conduct poetry-writing workshops in diverse neighborhoods.  We’ll post those workshops here, so that you don’t miss them!

Robin Reagler, Executive Director of Writers in the Schools (WITS), served on the Houston Poet Laureate Selection Committee, which assisted in the nomination and selection process.

Public Poetry Event on April 6th!

Posted April 3, 2013 & filed under Poem of the Day.

This is going to be fun!  Join us this Saturday, April 6th, at 2 PM at the Oak Forest Neighborhood Library for a memorable event.

There will be four fabulous poets who read their work, plus a special guest appearance by a young author from Writers in the Schools (WITS). Afterwards, meet and greet other poets at Plonk. Don’t miss the chance to catch Public Poetry in a new part of town!


Public Poetry exists to bring the public and poetry community together, and to create a buzz about poetry.

A monthly reading series is presented at various library locations in partnership with Houston Public Library.

Sign Up for A Poem a Day in April!

Posted March 29, 2013 & filed under Poem of the Day.

This April you can celebrate National Poetry Month through the Writers in the Schools (WITS) email campaign, A Poem a Day.

If you sign up, WITS will email  a child’s poem to you each weekday during the month of April. All poems featured in A Poem a Day are written and read aloud by WITS students in grades K-12. Sign up today and then share A Poem a Day with all your friends who appreciate the written word.

If you already subscribe to The WITS Blog, you know how inspirational it is to open your email or RSS feed each morning and be surprised by the words of children as young as 5 years. If you want to subscribe now, click here and click SUBSCRIBE.

Then, go out and celebrate poetry all month long!

  • Tune in to Houston’s KPFT 90.1 FM at 3:58 pm in the afternoons to hear a WITS poem read by a student from Johnston Middle School.
  • Click “Like” on your favorite poems.
  • Share them on FaceBook, Twitter, or Pinterest.
  • Write your own poem a day.
  • Shop at the new HEB Montrose or Buffalo Speedway. You will find poetry in all the right places.
  • Find poetry events in your neighborhood.

WITS Meta-Four Youth Perform TODAY!

Posted March 16, 2013 & filed under Notebook.

Saturday March 16, 2013
1:45-5 PM
at Houston Public Library
500 McKinney
Texan-French Alliance for the Arts invites all Houstonians
to celebrate the
Open the Door kick-off at the
Central Library Plaza in front of the Houston Public Library.
Join us for
workshops, music, theater, visual arts, and live performances!
Support WITS Meta-Four youth
doing spoken word performances!

You Could be the First Houston Poet Laureate

Posted February 27, 2013 & filed under Notebook.


The Houston Public Library and the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs are pleased to announce the newly-established

DEADLINE: March 8, 2013

Mayor Annise D. Parker announces the application/nomination process for selection of Houston’s first Poet Laureate. Submissions are welcome from persons nominating a poet for the position of Poet Laureate or from individual poets who are seeking the position. Only online applications will be accepted.


Mission Statement: The Houston Poet Laureate Program (HPLP) celebrates Houston’s rich culture and diversity through the work of a poet who will represent Houston by creating excitement about poetry through outreach, programs, teaching, and written work.

Term of Service: The term of service is two years. The current term will commence in April 2013 and expire in April 2015.

Term Expectations:

• Develop a community outreach project in which the Poet Laureate shares the art and love of poetry with a non-traditional and/or underserved audience.
• Plan and/or attend at least 4 community-based poetry programs per year. These may include public library programs, civic and other forms of community events.
• Provide content to the Houston Poet Laureate Program web page.
• Prepare and provide an annual written report of activities.

Criteria for Nomination and Selection of Poet Laureate:
• Have strong ties to the city of Houston and a strong interest in serving the city.
• Residence in Houston of at least 4 years.
• Experience in public speaking and public performance. Some teaching experience is preferred, but not required.
• Must have a body of published work, including at least one full-length book (not self-published or vanity press) or CD (not self-produced) or at least 20 published poems in established publications (print or online) over the past 5 years.
• Must be at least 21 years of age and not currently enrolled in an academic program.


• The Houston Poet Laureate will receive an annual honorarium of $5,000 through the
City’s Initiative Grant Program of the Houston Arts Alliance.

• A nominating statement of 2 or 3 paragraphs detailing why the nominee would be a good
selection for the Houston Poet Laureate Program.
• A writing sample of 10-15 pages in length consisting of select poems or other literary works.
• Résumé or curriculum vitae, not to exceed 2 pages.
• Brief biography, not to exceed 1 page.
• Proposal for a community outreach program, not to exceed 1 page.
• If the application package is submitted by a nominator (rather than the poet) a statement
by the nominated poet that he/she is aware of the nomination and is willing to fulfill the
requirements of the program if selected.
• Completed application packets should be submitted either as MS Word or PDF documents
via e-mail to [email protected], (Note: All nominations submitted must be
complete and fulfill all requirements. Incomplete nomination packets will not be considered.)


• Mayor Annise Parker, along with Library Director Dr. Rhea Brown Lawson, has appointed the Houston Poet Laureate Selection Committee, a group of acknowledged and diverse poets, scholars, and literary experts, to assist in the nomination and selection process. The group will be chaired by a library representative who will be a non-voting member of the committee.
• The selection committee will review all applications, which will be scored on a 100 point scale, with up to 70 points for artistic quality of the work sample, experience, and other professional accomplishments, and up to 30 points for the quality of the proposed outreach project.
• Finalists will be interviewed in person by the committee in late March and early April.
• The names of the finalists will be forwarded to Mayor Annise D. Parker and Library Director
Dr. Rhea Brown Lawson, in order of preference, for their approval and FINAL SELECTION.

• The Poet Laureate will be announced in April 2013 to coincide with National Poetry Month.

Tonight! Meta-Fourth Friday

Posted January 11, 2013 & filed under Notebook.


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)

Meta-Fourth Friday and Public Poetry

Posted November 29, 2012 & filed under Notebook.

Friday! Spoken Word workshop at 7pm, then the slam at 8pm. You must participate in the writing workshop to take part in the Slam. Ages 13-19, oh and it’s FREE! More information on the WITS web site.

An excerpt from Meta-Four’s performance at A Celebration of Story:

Jo:  It’s like it’s not good enough to just be you anymore

Je:  But, that is the best time for you to be you

Eb:  I started by just being

Jo:  I started by experimenting

ALL:  Where we are now began by creating

Meta-Four students performing Nov 2012

Also, the Meta-Four Houston group will be performing Sat, Dec. 1 at Public Poetry, 2pm at Vinson Library. Don’t miss these talented students!

Free Youth Spoken Word Workshops

Posted October 29, 2012 & filed under Notebook.

Writers in the Schools is offering free spoken word workshops for high-school students every Monday and Wednesday through the Houston Public Library, led by WITS Writer and renown performance poet Emanuelee “Outspoken” Bean.

Mondays from 4-5:30pm at Henington-Alief Regional Library (7979 South Kirkwood Rd.)

Wednesdays from 3:30-5pm at Smith Neighborhood Library (3624 Scott St.)

Click  here for specific dates.

Check out Meta-four Houston coach and workshop leader “Outspoken” Bean performing some of his poetry:

Public Poetry to Feature WITS’ Executive Director

Posted October 25, 2012 & filed under Notebook.

From Public Poetry:

“Poetry on TV??  Absolutely!  And we want YOU to be part of the audience on Saturday, November 3, 2012 at 2 PM at Vinson Neighborhood Library, 3810 W Fuqua, 77045 when Houston Media Source’s camera rolls!

It’s all about filming our featured poets – Jasminne Mendez, John Pluecker, Robin Reagler and Scott Wiggerman – in a fabulous new library, built just two years ago, that is moving into the future.  It’s an inviting, interesting, people friendly place that combines both hi-tech and old school, with 46 computers, a colorful fantasy space for young kids to listen to story-time and another to express their creativity, a vibrantly hued hi-tech section that has flat screens for video gaming, side rooms for groups to meet spaced throughout, and of course, books and books and reading nooks.

Please arrive by 1:45. We’ll be set up for filming inside the rotunda entrance, sharing the space with artist Elaine Bradford’s zoo of vibrantly-hued crocheted animals. Filming will go on for about an hour and a half, so come prepared for that.  BUT, if you’re a camera shy lover of poetry, simply take a seat at the back, and you’ll be guaranteed off-camera privacy and anonymity.

Never camera shy, there will be some students reading their poems, too, including kids who participate withWriters In the Schools (WITS).”

Gulf Coast Reads Celebration this Saturday

Posted October 24, 2012 & filed under Notebook.

Jonathan Safran Foer, whose novel, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is the 2012 pick for Gulf Coast Reads (www.gulfcoastreads.org) will be at the Houston Public Library this Saturday, October 27, at 2 PM. Mr. Foer will go on at 2 PM, but the event kicks off at 12:30 (Doors open at noon) with the Main Street Theater interpreting a scene from the book. Refreshments will be served and special guests, such as Mayor Parker, and last year’s Gulf Coast Reads author, Chitra Divakaruni, will be joining us.  The event is entirely free and open to the public.

WITS Student Writer Gets Published!

Posted October 15, 2012 & filed under Notebook.

Exciting news! A student from our Discovery Green workshops, Amaris S. Bobbio-Tarco’s (6th grade), short story has been published in the 2012 I Write Short Stories by Kids for Kids Anthology.
WITS Writer Weezie Mackey has worked after hours to help Amaris revise this short story.  Congratulations to Amaris and Weezie for such excellent work. We’re very proud!

Program Director Jack McBride and Weezie Mackey at Discovery Green

New and Free! Spoken Word Workshops

Posted October 10, 2012 & filed under Notebook.

Led by WITS Writer and renown performance poet Emanuelee “Outspoken” Bean, WITS is offering free Spoken Word workshops every Wednesday starting today at Smith Neighborhood Library. Open to all high school students, workshops will be from  3:30-5:00 p.m.

Smith Neighborhood Library
3624 Scott St.
Houston, Texas 77004
Workshops on the following dates: 
October 10
October 17
October 24
October 31
November 7
November 28
December 5
December 12
December 19
January 9
January 16
January 23
January 30
February 6
February 13 (Celebration)


Public Poetry Featuring WITS Student

Posted October 3, 2012 & filed under Notebook.

Join us this Saturday, October 6th at 2pm, for a fantastic lineup of Public Poetry at the Vinson Neighborhood Library. A WITS student will read two pieces along with a talented selection of Houston writers. Free as always!

Visit Public Poetry for more information.

Join us Saturday for LibroFEST!

Posted September 14, 2012 & filed under Notebook.

Join WITS this Saturday, September 15th in celebrating Hispanic writers at Librofest, a book and arts festival that highlights the Latino community. A free event hosted by the Houston Public Library, Librofest will include storytelling, writing workshops, book giveaways, crafts, and performances for the whole family. This inaugural festival will feature a reading from several celebrated poets and writers including Gwendolyn Zepeda, Claudia Kolker, Javier O. Huerta, and Sarah Cortez. Feel free to stop by exhibitors’ tables and discover what’s new from Writers in the Schools, Arte Público Press, Casa Ramírez, Houston Public Library, Literal magazine, MECA, Nuestra Palabra, and Society for the Performing Arts.

WITS will be hosting a free workshop for kids at Librofest, located in the library’s main building (first floor gallery area) at 1:45 pm. WITS Writers Weezie Mackey and Carmen Jacobsen will lead students in exercises that explore creativity and celebrate Latino community and culture.

Fun for all ages! We can’t wait to see you there!

When & Where

Saturday, September 15, 2012
11:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Houston Public Library’s Central Library Plaza
500 McKinney St.
Houston, TX 77002

For more information, click here or call 832-393-1313.