National Poetry Month 2019

Posted April 5, 2019 & filed under Notebook.

WITS is celebrating National Poetry Month!

Join us at our WITS events in April–we can’t wait to celebrate poetry with you! Use our hashtag #HoustonIsPoetry to connect with us on social media.

April 7th: Space City Slam Grand Slam

Watch as the most talented youth poets in Houston perform original poetry in front of a live audience for the chance to join Meta-Four Houston and represent our city at Brave New Voices this summer. Jackson Neal, Houston Youth Poet Laureate and 3-time Meta-Four Houston member, will be our emcee! Sunday April 7th, 3pm at Midtown Arts and Theater Center Houston (MATCH).

Reserve your free standby ticket here:

https://witshouston.org/grandslam

April 8th: KPFT Open Journal

Tune in to KPFT’s Open Journal Monday, April 8th at 6pm for an interview with WITS Executive Director Robin Reagler and Bayouth Collective co-founder and member Mackenzie. Hear about their work and the impact of poetry in Houston.

Listen here, or on the radio at 90.1FM:

http://kpft.org/

April 13th: Young Writers Reading Series – Blooms

At our Young Writers Reading, WITS students read their work for the first time in front of an audience. Celebrate storytelling as our young writers share their best poems, stories, and essays from the school year at this important and exciting experience that will stay with them for a lifetime. Saturday April 13th, 11:30am at Discovery Green.

Sundays, April – June: Poetry and Pose

A free family-friendly program for Houston’s creative writing and yoga enthusiasts. The session will open with a 45 minute creative writing activity inspired by yoga practice and close with a 45 minute yoga session with an instructor from Happy Feet Yoga. 11 am at Discovery Green every Sunday, Hess Deck Patio.

H-E-B Poetry Pop-Ups

While shopping for groceries at H-E-B stores, take a look around for WITS student poems! In the classroom, our writers encourage students to write about what they love most–and often, that includes food. With Poetry Pop-Ups at the Bellaire, Buffalo Speedway, Bunker Hill, Heights, Montrose, and San Felipe locations, WITS partners with H-E-B stores around Houston to share that love with our communities. Can you find all of the poems in your store?

Rain Poems

Our WITS Bayouth Collective will be installing poetry in Buffalo Bayou Park–with a catch. Bring some water or wait for a rainy day to reveal #rainpoems, stenciled in invisible ink that only emerges when wet. Look for signs near water fountains on the trail for a chance to splash water on the poetry-covered path:

 

* Eleanor Tinsley Park

* Rosemont Bridge

* Inside the dog park

* Houston Police Memorial

 

Poem-A-Day

Follow our Twitter for daily excerpts from WITS classrooms, Facebook for weekly student poems, and Instagram for three-panel reveals and stories from our events!

 

Minute Maid Park

Posted October 13, 2017 & filed under Event, Notebook, Poem, Student Writing.

 

Minute Maid

Saturday!

Five forty five  A.M.

Screaming, booming

Jose Altuve, Orbit, Carlos Correa

Play games, eat ice-cream

Two months!

Happy.

by Anthony,  2nd grade

The Shelter of Imagination

Posted September 11, 2017 & filed under Notebook, WITS People.

Meggie with Armoney, age 6,
at George R. Brown Convention Center

Days after Hurricane Harvey made landfall, WITS Program Manager, Meggie Monahan, volunteered at George R. Brown Convention Center, reading, writing, and playing with children who had been displaced by the storm and floodwaters. Meggie reflects on the power of imagination, the generosity of listening, and the resilience of children. Read an excerpt from “The Shelter of Imagination,” which originally aired on KPFT 90.1 FM’s “So, What’s Your Story?”.

When I was a child, our sticky Pennsylvania summers were filled with “make-believe” games. My siblings and I strung stage curtains out of old Sesame Street bed sheets. We wrote new & improved scripts for our favorite Disney movies, and we choreographed music videos for Michael Jackson’s “Dangerous” album. Then one summer, our parents got a new refrigerator. And in the weeks to follow, that huge empty box in the garage became pure and total magic. It was our special hideout: a dark and cool refuge from parents and chores, an escape from mosquitoes, and a ticket to a bigger world.

I haven’t thought about that refrigerator box in a long time. But last week at the George R Brown Convention Center, I recognized it from across the room as Davion and Abu led me by the hand to their special fort. We snaked our way through a sea of cots and blankets and belongings, and there was this beautiful empty box— a space that could be anything at all, anything they wanted it to be. There, smack-dab in the middle of noise and need and exhaustion and loss, these boys had chosen to stand on the shoreline of their imaginations and create a new, more hopeful world.

I came to Houston to study creative writing, and I stayed in Houston because of Writers in the Schools, an organization that believes in the life-saving power of the imagination. We believe that every child has a voice, that every voice is valuable and deserves to be heard— and that the act of sharing our stories is what makes us human, and what connects us to each other. When talking about WITS, I like to say that “wherever kids are, that’s where we want to be,” and that includes inside a cardboard box in the middle of the 4th largest city in the nation.

In the aftermath of Harvey, I’ve had the opportunity to sit with some of our city’s children at the GRB and the NRG and listen to their voices. And it has reminded me and affirmed in me two things: one, that kids are kids wherever they go. And two, that playfulness, imagination, and creativity are trustworthy tools for healing. Even after being displaced by a hurricane, kids want to sit in your lap and wear your sunglasses. They want to pretend to be tigers and practice their super hero moves with you, cover you in stickers, and braid your hair. Most of all, when they believe you are truly listening, kids want to talk. They are natural storytellers, and they want to tell you about their pets and their best friends and their dream vacations, and what they want to be when they grow up. And at WITS, our most important job is to listen— to really listen— and to celebrate and encourage and elevate children’s words at every level.

And that’s what I love about WITS: that we as a community of writers are committed to excavating and elevating the stories of our young people, and emboldening them to use their words to create a more just and beautiful world. And one day these kiddos— the Davions and Abus and Tianas and Bobbies and Anthonys and Nathans and Christiannas and Zias— all of these children are going to tell stories to their children about what happened when it rained for days and days they needed to leave their homes and live in a new and unfamiliar place. And it’s my hope that peppered within their stories and their families’ stories, there might be some small, treasured moments of play, lightness, and getting to be a kid, even in the midst of tragedy.

There is an Irish saying that “it is in the shelter of each other that the people live,” and I would expand upon that by saying, “It is in the stories of each other that the people live.” When we take the time to sit and listen to the story of another person, especially a child, they may not know where to start— but the act of listening is powerful and invites generosity and willingness in the speaker. And when children know they are being listened to, they can’t help but fill empty spaces— air and pages and cardboard boxes— with all kinds of magic. Their giggles bounce across poured concrete floors. Their litanies of favorite foods transform phrases like “shrimp with garlic butter” into prayerful syllables in a crowded convention hall. And their Red Ninja lava super powers are, somehow, enough to defeat the Blue Ninja’s endless waves of water.

Letter from the Director

Posted September 1, 2017 & filed under News, WITS People.

Jarvis, age 5, tells his story, “Batman and Robin Saving People,” through a drawing.

Dear WITS Family,

Finally the rain has ended in Houston. The storm has affected each of us in some way, even those of us lucky enough to avoid flood waters.

After five days of mad precipitation, the deluge transformed into mist and disappeared. That’s when I noticed my Instagram feed was populated with hundreds of sky photos—not dramatic sunsets or hyperbolic clouds, just pale blue sky. Here in Houston, we have never appreciated blue sky as much as we have this week.

When we asked the WITS Writers if they wanted to volunteer to work with flood-affected families, all 30 spots filled in less than an hour. I am humbled to work with such talented, authentic, and generous poets and writers.

Thousands of evacuated families are living in the George R. Brown Convention Center. Although many of the children have experienced trauma, we are not asking them directly about their experience. Instead WITS Writers are bringing joy and playfulness to these kids, telling stories, building houses out of blocks, and pretending to be cars or frogs. As we’ve discovered in the classroom, the stories we most need to share come through, regardless of the subject matter. Humans are storytellers to the core. We connect with one another through language. Through poetry. That’s what makes WITS a powerful part of the healing process.

I have been moved beyond belief by the spirit of generosity demonstrated here in Houston this week. Our Democratic Mayor and our Republican County Commissioner are working as a dynamic duo. It seems as though everyone who remains unscathed is pitching in, helping to feed, clothe, and support those in need. Even the pop radio station that my cynical teens like best has been sharing tales of human kindness, ending with the refrain: “We are all neighbors. We are all family. We are #HoustonStrong.”

Nothing has brought our city together like this moment. It is truly inspiring. It makes me want to work harder than ever to bring the healing power of storytelling to every Houston child.

With love,

Robin

Joshua Nguyen, Robin Reagler, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, Emanualee Bean, and Reyes Ramirez working for Houston’s recovery after Hurricane Harvey.

Farewell National Poetry Month

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

celebrate

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!

Future Traveler

Posted April 30, 2015 & filed under Poem of the Day.

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Photo by: Angelo Rossi

 

I’m the brightest parrot

flying in the jungle.

I’m the sugar in the coffee,

maybe the salt to the sour salad.

I’m the moon that glistens in the dark;

he’s like the sun to the sunset.

We are the peak of a cold mountain.

You are the skyscraper to the breeze;

I’m the greatest spark in the crystal,

shining like when the sunlight

touches a diamond and it starts

to blink brightly. I’m a big

ball of fire, made from hot lava

that comes out of a volcano

of courage. I’m the future traveler,

and I will meet you in the future.

 

By Kevin, 6th grade

 

Click the link above to listen to the poem read on KPFT radio by Summer Ames, a 6th grader at Johnston Middle School For the Performing and Visual Arts in Houston. Faculty is Gary Leger, Magnet Coordinator. Music is by Gerry Davis, “Magical Forest.” www.jamendo.com. Produced by Susan Phillips.

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Poem a Day is made possible in part by H-E-B Tournament of Champions, Copy.com, The City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance, Texas Commission on the Arts, and KPFT 90.1.

 

Original post: November 14, 2014

What am I?

Posted April 29, 2015 & filed under Poem of the Day.

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Photo by: Judy Schmidt

 

I am in the center of a galaxy.

I am a circle or a sphere.

I am black.

Light cannot escape from me.

Flying objects get sucked into me.

It is very silent where I live.

 

What am I?

A black hole!

 

By Kavin, 1st grade

 

Click the link above to listen to the poem read on KPFT radio by Gabriel Canepa, an 8th grader at Johnston Middle School For the Performing and Visual Arts in Houston. Faculty is Ches Smith, Campus Technologist. Music is by NonMemory, “Black Hole II” www.freemusicarchive.org. Produced by Susan Phillips.

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Poem a Day is made possible in part by H-E-B Tournament of Champions, Copy.com, The City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance, Texas Commission on the Arts, and KPFT 90.1.

Original post: July 18, 2014

A Story to Tell

Posted April 28, 2015 & filed under Poem of the Day.

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Photo by: dbr Atl

 

My eyes have a story to tell.

I was born in a place that freezes the ground.

Life was beautiful before the war.

Now I am devastated.

I feel like the world has come to an end.

There is no house, there is no food.

I beg for money.

I am scared of dying and soldiers with guns.

I dream of peace.

All I want is to be with my family.

I dream of love.

 

By Natasha, 2nd grade

Click the link above to listen to the poem read on KPFT radio by Kylie Silva, an 8th grader at Johnston Middle School For the Performing and Visual Arts in Houston. Faculty is Dr. Ben Grube, Orchestra Director. The background music is “When the Moon Fall” by Ketsa, www.jamendo.com. Produced by Susan Phillips.

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Poem a Day is made possible in part by H-E-B Tournament of Champions, Copy.com, The City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance, Texas Commission on the Arts, and KPFT 90.1.

When a Sheep Dreams

Posted April 23, 2015 & filed under Poem, Poem of the Day, Student Writing.

 

When sheep dream

They don’t look up at

the sky, but their heads

are filled with clouds

floating quietly

this way and that

 

By Alashia, 4th grade

 

Click the link above to listen to the poem read on KPFT radio by Arianna Vara, an 8th grader at Johnston Middle School For the Performing and Visual Arts in Houston. Faculty is Jerri Deleon, Assistant Principal. The background music is “J. S. Bach: Sheep May Safely Graze – BWV 208” by Kevin MacLeod. Produced by Susan Phillips.

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Poem a Day is made possible in part by H-E-B Tournament of Champions, Copy.com, The City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance, Texas Commission on the Arts, and KPFT 90.1.

 

Original post: February 12, 2015

Hope

Posted April 21, 2015 & filed under Poem of the Day.

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Photo by: Darryl Neeley

 

The ocean writes notes to those

who seek its majestic treasure of beauty.

My future is swallowed by those

who disturb its tranquility.

Belief cries and sounds like a person’s heart

being double crossed and tossed away.

Monday is defeated by all the other days

like the weakest god on Mt. Olympus

being beaten by Zeus.

Determination cartwheels over

the lost hope of the living.

My heart explodes after being

broken by my first true love.

Knowledge tumbles after it has been

put to the test and failed

with a relentless fate ahead.

Hope dances as it goes down the meadow.

 

By Eti-Ini, 4th grade

 

Click the link above to listen to the poem read on KPFT radio by Kyla Mays, a 6th grader at Johnston Middle School For the Performing and Visual Arts in Houston. Faculty is Diana Grosscope, Piano Teacher. The background music is “Our Tape” by Jurrivh www.soundcloud.com. Produced by Susan Phillips.

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Poem a Day is made possible in part by H-E-B Tournament of Champions, Copy.com, The City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance, Texas Commission on the Arts, and KPFT 90.1.

I Can Write From

Posted April 20, 2015 & filed under Poem of the Day.

 

I can write from an arrow of fire of the cruelness of this world.

I can write from a sword of ice of all the cold hearted people in our earth.

I can write from a rainbow feather of the kindness of my people.

I can write from a flower burning but not dying,

because I know we will stand even on the ends of the earth.

I can write from a sword with the stabbing truth.

I can write from broken chains because even in times of slavery

I will let my people free.

 

By Christian, 3rd grade

 

Click the link above to listen to the poem read on KPFT radio by Donovan Williams, an 8th grader at Johnston Middle School For the Performing and Visual Arts in Houston. Faculty is Dr. Jose Rocha, Orchestra Director. The background music is “Aftermath” by Gregoire Lourme from www.jammendo.com. Produced by Susan Phillips.

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Poem a Day is made possible in part by H-E-B Tournament of Champions, Copy.com, The City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance, Texas Commission on the Arts, and KPFT 90.1.

What Is

Posted April 17, 2015 & filed under Poem of the Day.

 

Funny is when you see an animal

that plays

Music is a joyful journey

through your heart.

Writing is your imagination

taking you to different places.

Reading is a race to knowledge.

Flowers are the smell of joy.

Art is the imagination

of a blank piece of paper.

 

By Cheyenne, 3rd grade

 

Click the link above to listen to the poem read on KPFT radio by Alex Huff, a 7th grader at Johnston Middle School For the Performing and Visual Arts in Houston. Faculty is Chandel Bonner-Hancock, Assistant Principal. The background music is “Life of Riley” by Kevin McLeod. Produced by Susan Phillips.

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Poem a Day is made possible in part by H-E-B Tournament of Champions, Copy.com, The City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance, Texas Commission on the Arts, and KPFT 90.1.

My Name

Posted April 16, 2015 & filed under Notebook, Poem of the Day.

My name, to me, in English means fire,

And water, raging and fighting, but not

Very different, in all they are friends,

It smells like mint, burning and sighing,

Crackling and dying,

My name has a secret, it shall not tell,

Of a magical place, hidden in a forest,

It wanders and roams a dark palace,

Dreading the ghost of a wizard,

When a hard day is over, it goes

And hides in its imagination,

It feels light, silky, and cold, but it will

Burn your finger, harsh

 

By Marina, 5th grade

 

Click the link above to listen to the poem read on KPFT radio by Ambar Caldwell, a 6th grader at Johnston Middle School For the Performing and Visual Arts in Houston. Faculty is Jennifer Wood, Drama teacher.  The background music is “The Snow Queen” by Kevin MacLeod from www.Incompetech.com. Produced by Susan Phillips.

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Poem a Day is made possible in part by H-E-B Tournament of Champions, Copy.com, The City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance, Texas Commission on the Arts, and KPFT 90.1.

 

Original post: July 31, 2014

Guardian of Kids

Posted April 15, 2015 & filed under Poem of the Day.

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Photo by: mrhayata

 

My mom is the ferocious dragon

Defending her egg on the lake.

My mom is the queen of nature

And defender of homes.

She always lets me have

The last piece of food at the dining table.

My mom is the chef of all sweets in the world.

She is the gatekeeper of perfume land.

When I am sick, the bridge to heaven

Opens when she walks through the door.

When I yell for help

She is like a gust of wind ready to aid me.

Whoosh!

 

By Maddox, 4th grade

 

Click the link above to listen to the poem read on KPFT radio by Grant Cambron, an 8th grader at Johnston Middle School For the Performing and Visual Arts in Houston. Faculty is Chelsea Kennedy, KickStart Karate Instructor.The background music is by Kevin MacCleod, “The War is Not Lost” from www.incompetech.com. Produced by Susan Phillips.

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Poem a Day is made possible in part by H-E-B Tournament of Champions, Copy.com, The City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance, Texas Commission on the Arts, and KPFT 90.1.

The River Home

Posted April 10, 2015 & filed under Poem of the Day.

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Photo by Eric Leslie

 

Home is a River

Flowing perfectly in silence

Like a big rock for support

The waves crash against the

Sand, washing away

All obstacles in my way

 

By Maejon, 7th grade

 

Click the link above to listen to the poem read on KPFT radio by Alex Cweren, an 8th grader at Johnston Middle School For the Performing and Visual Arts in Houston. Faculty is Art Teacher, Tobi Arsham. The background music is “Turning Wheel” by Ketsa. Produced by Susan Phillips.

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Poem a Day is made possible in part by H-E-B Tournament of Champions, Copy.com, The City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance, Texas Commission on the Arts, and KPFT 90.1.

It Can Wait

Posted April 8, 2015 & filed under Poem of the Day.

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Photo by: torbakhopper

 

I see what you’re trying to do

I promise

Many believe that words gave us life

So you type and you swipe

Your numbers and letters

To give life to a maximum of 160 characters

 

In your driver’s seat

You become the narrator

But what is it worth

If you can’t save the five most important characters

Y-O-U

And don’t forget

M-E

 

I don’t understand

How could this be going on

Our lives are finally worth more than a drink

But worth less than an emoticon

 

Just a few letters

That could be all it takes

Keep your eyes on the road

So you can put your foot on the brakes

 

We have to make a change

We’ve got to make it right

It’s all fun and games

Until LOL stands for Loss of Life

 

You only have one chance

You don’t get to do this twice

So as you drive

Strive for life

 

You still have 160 characters

All I’m asking is that you save five

But if you can’t

And decided that you are worth less than three

Don’t do it for you

Do it for M-E

 

By Homer, 12th grade

 

Click the link above to listen to the poem read on KPFT radio by Sophia Singleton, an 8th grader at Johnston Middle School For the Performing and Visual Arts in Houston. The background music is “Sun-Filled” by Ketsa, from the Free Music Archive. freemusicarchive.org Produced by Susan Phillips.

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Poem a Day is made possible in part by H-E-B Tournament of Champions, Copy.com, The City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance, Texas Commission on the Arts, and KPFT 90.1.

Ali

Posted April 6, 2015 & filed under Notebook, Poem of the Day.

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Photo by: Lotus Carroll

 

Do you know that

there are two layers

of love and joy

inside and outside?

Look deeper, because

I understand

the color of the sun;

and there is nothing more I could ask for

than a life like

the color of my eyes.

And the great teachers

I have, with my mother

and father, they

complete my day.

As I see myself

in the mirror, I see

the beauty in me

every day.

 

By Ali-Raza, 2nd grade

 

Click the link above to listen to the poem read on KPFT radio by Jaquelyn Simmons, a 7th grader at Johnston Middle School For the Performing and Visual Arts in Houston. The background music is “Super Pop Happy Song” by Five Easy Pieces. Produced by Susan Phillips. Faculty is Alex DeWalt, Assistant Principal.

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Poem a Day is made possible in part by H-E-B Tournament of Champions, Copy.com, The City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance, Texas Commission on the Arts, and KPFT 90.1.

 

Original post: September 11, 2014

Here and Now I Love You

Posted April 3, 2015 & filed under Poem of the Day.

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Photo by: girl/afraid

 

Here and now I love you. You make

the moon blue. You make

my every wish come true. People

 

always want the sun to walk

slower when you are here

and the night to go by quickly

so they can see you faster.

 

You love me so dearly.

You’re scared when you leave me.

But you are far away,

but I see you ride fearfully

on that only cloud. But you

are the one, the one & only mom.

 

By Kyra, 4th grade

 

Click the link above to listen to the poem read on KPFT radio by Preston Parker, an 8th grader at Johnston Middle School For the Performing and Visual Arts in Houston. The background music is “Falling Away” from freestockmusic.com. Produced by Susan Phillips.

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Poem a Day is made possible in part by H-E-B Tournament of Champions, Copy.com, The City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance, Texas Commission on the Arts, and KPFT 90.1.

Happy National Poetry Month!

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

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Happy National Poetry Month! Today is the start of a Poem a Day, a month-long celebration of poetry by WITS students. Each weekday we will share a poem by one of our talented students here on the blog. You can also check out the poems via the WITS facebook, instagram, or twitter, and listen to the poems read by Johnston Middle School students, on the radio station KPFT 90.1, at 4:30 pm. Make sure you subscribe to the WITS blog today to receive the poem of the day in your inbox.


Ode to the Library

I open the door,
It is
silent.

I walk to the
shelf.

Thump, Thump.
My feet echo.

I find my book. Thump, Thump.
I walk to a table.
I find a warm corner.
Sunlight comes over me,
like a yellow bubble.
In I go!

Adventuring with Percy and Annabeth.
Back to shelf.
Found another one. In Puppy
Place with Lizzie and Charles
All done! Back to shelf.

Here we are, another one.
Back to table.
Thump, Thump.
Gone to the rodeo with Kylie Jean.

Back again. Glance at clock.
It’s almost 5! Please just one book more!

Race to shelf. One last time.
Thumpata, Thumpata, Thump! Screeching halt.
Scan the shelf. Grab the book. Race to table.
Open book. Time flies.
Chapter 5.

Mom comes in. Time to go!
Check out book. Dragging feet.

In the car. Buckle up. Watch sadly
out the window as the library flies out
of sight.

By Morgan, 4th grade

 

Click the link above to listen to the poem read on KPFT radio by Eliana Collins, an 8th grader at Johnston Middle School For the Performing and Visual Arts in Houston. The background music is “Walk in the Night” from freestockmusic.com. Produced by Susan Phillips.

Poem a Day is made possible in part by H-E-B Tournament of Champions, Copy.com, The City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance, Texas Commission on the Arts, and KPFT 90.1.