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.

CUPSI Reflection by Joshua Nguyen, Meta-Four Alum 2008-2012

Posted March 25, 2014 & filed under Notebook.


Tuesday, March 11th

My team, UT Spitshine, left the Austin Airport at about 10 am. I brought a poetry book called “Donkey Gospel” that my coach Sam Sax had given me which allowed me to pass the time on the airplane, I also had two tests to study for. My team consists of Ariana Brown and Arati Warrier, both previous TheySpeak Austin youth poets. Also on my team were Loyce Gayo and Joseph “Atlas” Flores, both on the UT Spitshine team the year before. My coaches were Sam Sax and Zachary Caballero.

When we arrived in Boulder, Colorado, for CUPSI (College Union Poetry Slam Invitational) it was the first time I experienced pleasant snow. I smiled to myself and realized how blessed I was to have poetry take me to so many places in my life. The town was quaint; everything was a hike since the altitude is so high, but every morning you would wake up and walk outside to some huge mountains.

That night, after a Whole Foods run. We spent two hours in one hotel room running out set for our preliminary bout the next day. Even though we were all tired, we still put our 100% when we ran our poems, a quality I really appreciated that I learned from growing up with Meta-Four.


Wednesday, March 12th

Our first preliminary bout was at 5 pm. The bout consisted of SUNY–New Paltz, University of Northern Colorado, University of Pennsylvania, and University of Texas–Austin. After splurging at Innisfree poetry book store and cafe, one of three poetry-only book stores in the nation, we found a nice tree on the Colorado campus to start running our set poems.

We protested before the start of the show because we felt like the judges were not diverse enough ( race and gender) and after only two minutes of searching, the emcee continued on the show, some of my teammates felt frustrated since some of our poems target a specific audience.

We won our first bout. We were blessed and grateful for the love we got after the bout, people came up to hug us and tell us how they liked our work.


Thursday, March 13th

We had more of the day to relax, our second bout did not start until 9:00 PM which was great because we had the best venue called the Gallery, which was not too big and not too small with blank white walls and great acoustics. The bout was packed with people because of the friendships we made on the trip. People came to watch us because we were honest in our poetry, and we supported the other teams as well.

The bout consisted of Brown University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, and University of Texas–Austin. We won our bout again with a first place. After the bout, we got way more love from the other teams, and they said that they would come to our semifinals bout to support us.


Friday, March 14th

I woke up early (noon) to go to some of the free workshops that were being held. Zachary, Joseph, and I went to this workshop that was a discussion on how to build a poetry community on a campus. I really appreciated this workshop because I want to help the Spitshine organization on our campus grow and for us to be more known. I have plans to hold an open mic once a month to encourage our members to share their work.

I also competed in CUPSI’s first Haiku battle, and with the skills I learned from Jacob Dobson from APS, I placed 2nd! And people really loved how I could make them laugh and then go serious on a dime.

I was really excited for our semifinals bout, I was also really nervous, it was at 9 pm and the bout consisted of Macalester College, Stanford University, UT-Austin, and Yale University. The energy was crazy, the room was out of seats, and when they announced our name in the beginning, we received the largest cheers and applause. It was a very emotional bout, most of our team went so IN in our poems, they started crying. The beautiful thing was that after every poem, the team would get up and hug whoever just came off stage. It was all love.



After the bout drained us, we were just happy to be with each other, our coaches didn’t tell us the results, but we were happy , and when they were announcing who won the bout, they called our name, and there were tears, hugs, love, open mouth groans, and so much energy!

I called my former Meta-Four Houston coaches Emanuelee “Outspoken” Bean and Jeremyah “The Fluent One” Payne to tell them the news and they were so excited for me. I wanted to let them know that if it wasn’t for them breaking me apart and building me up during my four years with Meta-Four Houston, that I  probably wouldn’t be at this moment, in Boulder, Colorado, knowing I was going to be on a Final stage the next day.


Saturday, March 15th

I had a great breakfast, I got in the zone, I was nervous beyond belief. I thanked God for all the friends I made over this week, we had so much support from the teams there, and it humbled me when people kept coming up to me saying my haikus were amazing. The finals bout was crazy, so many poems by teams who didn’t make finals and there was a feature by Outside Sister Poetry. Finals consisted of Montclair State University, Princeton University, UT-Austin, and Virginia Commonwealth University.

Before the bout, as we do before every bout, the team came together in a huddle, and we went around and said who we were bringing on stage, I said my family, grandma, brother, and my Meta-Four family.

The poems were amazing, we went IN, and Ariana closed out our set of poems with an honest poem she read from her chapbook, it was beautiful.

Before they announced the winner, they gave out individual awards, Arati Warrier won best poem and best poet, Ariana Brown won best poet, Zachary Cabellero won best spirit, and the team won best performance as a team. We were already hype, and then all the teams were told to gather on stage, and then, we were told that we, UT Spitshine won CUPSI.


Amazing electricity.

It was the best way to win a national competition, I was blessed to have the greatest team with the best coaches with two cities on my back supporting me. I am very humbled and I have a renewed confidence in myself now. I thought about my Meta-Four Houston family back in Houston and the new family I have in Austin and how lucky I am to know both. I also learned how to be more vulnerable in my writing, a trait I have learned from my teammate Ariana Brown and from, Deborah “D.E.E.P.” Mouton, one of my past Meta-Four Houston coaches.

I was talking with The Fluent One about how I am a piece that God is playing chess with. In 2008, when I first tried out for Meta-Four Houston, I placed 8th, but then there was a time penalty for someone, and the other person couldn’t go, so I got the 6th spot on that team. It’s hard to imagine where I would be now if those two things had not happen.

Free Slam Poetry Workshops for Teens

Posted August 22, 2013 & filed under Notebook.

Meta-FourIf you are between the ages of 13-19, come join us for Meta-Fourth Fridays, held Fridays from 7:00-9:00 PM at Hope Stone, 1210 West Clay, Suite 26, Houston, TX 77019. Bring a friend or come solo and meet some new friends.

These free workshops 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.

Dates for Meta-Fourth Fridays, all free and open to teens 13-19:

September 27
October 25
November 22
December 20

Tell your friends!

Last Chance to See Meta-Four Houston!

Posted July 31, 2013 & filed under Notebook.

Meta-fourVSmeta-fourFINALThe Writers in the Schools Meta-Four Houston Team is performing in one last poetry slam, Veterans versus Newbies, before heading off to the Brave New Voices international competition in Chicago.

Our team is the Texas Youth Poetry Slam 2013 State Champs!  Come see them this Saturday, August 3, 2013, at the Alley Theatre–Neuhuas Stage, 615 Texas Avenue.

Suggested donation is $10 and proceeds will help send Meta-Four to Brave New Voices in Chicago. Doors open at 6 PM, and the slam starts at 6:30 PM.

Word Around Town Poetry Marathon

Posted July 30, 2013 & filed under Notebook.

WAT-Flyer-front2013From our friends at WAT:

“The Word Around Town (WAT) tour is an annual week-long poetry marathon held in Houston at different venues each night of the week.  The marathon goes from  Sunday, August 4th until Saturday, August 10th.  That is seven days, seven shows, and seven different venues!

The mission of the WAT tour is to introduce poets to different venues and to new audiences in the Houston area. Now in its 8th year, the tour features poets who range in styles from academic to slam and spoken word to experimental.  The venues showcased on the tour are just as diverse from the local coffee shop to community centers, bars, and non-profit institutions.”

For the complete list of poets and venues, please visit the WAT website.  WITS writers such as Outspoken Bean are among the veteran poets who will perform. See you out on the town!

Meta-Four Wins 2013 Texas Youth Poetry Slam

Posted July 28, 2013 & filed under Notebook.


Breaking news!  Breaking news! Meta-Four, a spoken word program for teens at Writers in the Schools (WITS), WON the 2013 Texas Youth Poetry Slam.

This event was held at Studio 12 in The Commons at Texas A&M University, July 27-28th.  Youth from across Texas competed in the Haiku Slam, Individual Slam, and Team Slam.

The event was sponsored by Mic Check, the Arts Council of Brazos Valley, and the Department of Sociology at Texas A&M.

250474_589799164386658_2116090736_nWe thank everyone helping to create a platform for our youth to share their poetry and words of truth.

Congratulations to Team Meta-Four for an outstanding slam and to our WITS Meta-Four Coach Outspoken Bean!

Stay tuned for the next poetry slam. You don’t want to miss what these young people are telling you about their lives and the world.

Houston Poetry Slam: Youth Versus Adults!

Posted July 22, 2013 & filed under Notebook.

VIP v MetaCome out and support Meta-Four, a spoken-word program of WITS youth, as they engage in a battle of words with the Houston V.I.P. team.

Where: The Artery, 5401 Jackson, Houston, TX.

When: Thursday, July 25th. Doors open at 7:30 PM, and the POETRY SLAM begins at 8 PM.

Minimum donation of $7. Hosts are Robyn Adams and Lupe Mendez.

Applause for the Meta-Four 2013 Team!

Posted June 6, 2013 & filed under Notebook.

m4 team after grand 513Houston, we have a team!

After competing at Space City Slam in a series of six poetry competitions, six young poets were chosen to represent WITS’s performance poetry team, Meta- Four, and the city of Houston at the international youth poetry slam festival and competition, Brave New Voices, in Chicago, August 7-11.

The Honorable Sheila Jackson Lee announced the winners, who rode in the grand prize winning car “Big Red” in the Houston Art Car Parade. Congratulations to Outspoken Bean, the Meta-Four coach, and to students Sarah Portugal, Terell Cloud, Jennifer Layer, Jordan Simpson, Tiffany Ike, and Daniel Ortiz! See you in Chicago!

Thanks to the support of United Airlines, who generously donated round trip tickets, Meta- Four will be flying all the way to Chicago free of charge! Also a special thanks to the City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance and Travelers Insurance for their continuous support of Meta-Four and the Space City Grand Slam.

Meta-Four Youth Poetry Slam

Posted April 4, 2013 & filed under Notebook.

Photograph - Meta-Four Students Performing 2 copy

Join other youth for a Meta-Four Youth Poetry Slam hosted by Outspoken Bean, the 2013-14 Houston V.I.P. Slam Champ!

Writers in the Schools provides a safe, encouraging environment where teens of diverse backgrounds and economic circumstances can explore and express their truths through workshops and poetry slams.

Youth ages 13-19 are encouraged to participate in free year-round weekly workshops and monthly open-mic events hosted by Writers in the Schools. In the spring and summer, youth poets are selected through a series of slam competitions to represent Houston in the annual Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam Festival.

Meta-FourThe next FREE Space City Slam is:

April 6 (Sat) @ Houston Public Central Library 10-12pm

Bring your friends for a poetry workshop and slam. Spread the word!

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:

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)


Announcing Meta-Fourth Fridays!

Posted September 26, 2012 & filed under Notebook.

Join Meta-Four Houston every fourth Friday of the month to participate in a FREE written word workshop and poetry slam!

When:  September 28, 2012

8:00 pm – Workshop

9:00 pm – Slam

*Note: You must attend the workshop to participate in the poetry slam

Where:  Hope Stone Dance Studio (1210 West Clay, 77019)

About Meta-Four:

Meta-Four Houston encourages self-expression and literacy among Houston’s youth through creative writing and performance. Click here for more information.


Deaf Jam – October 19th at Rice U

Posted October 19, 2011 & filed under Notebook.

Writers in the Schools (WITS) understands the power of slam poets, and we are lucky to have on staff a WITS writer, Deborah D.E.E.P. Wiggins, who’s been ranked the #2 female performance poet in the world.

We also celebrate deaf poets–each year WITS students from T.H. Rogers School bring down the house at the Blooms reading at Discovery Green.

So, we are excited to announce the upcoming film Deaf Jam, which documents a convergence of these two worlds.  It follows the story of  Aneta Brodski, a deaf teenager living in New York City, as she prepares to be among the first deaf competitors in a National Poetry Slam.

HoustonPBS Community Cinema Series offers free screenings of  independent films scheduled for upcoming broadcast on the Emmy Award-winning PBS series Independent Lens.  Thanks, HoustonPBS!

What: Deaf Jam, by Judy Lieff


Where:  Rice Cinema, Entrance # 8 – University Blvd at Stockton