Oceanlight

Posted April 24, 2013 & filed under Poem of the Day.

 

A haunted lighthouse flicks on

and off. Sailors get lost.

The moon beams onto the middle

of the ocean.

Until a breezy wind floats by

and no more light shines.

Only sounds of waves float by

And mystery falls into the air.

By Julia, 3rd Grade

Click the link above to listen to the poem read on KPFT radio by Kevin Hernandez, a 6th grader at Johnston Middle School For the Performing and Visual Arts in Houston.

This poem is featured as part of the 2013 A Poem a Day campaign, a National Poetry Month celebration by Writers in the Schools (WITS) that features a different poem by a WITS student every day during April. Click here to learn more. 

Special thanks to Susan Phillips, an independent radio producer and KPFT volunteer in Houston, who recorded and produced all the poems for the WITS A Poem a Day campaign.  

Pages and Pages of Poetry!

Posted April 23, 2013 & filed under Notebook.

headshotWith the school year reaching a close, MaryScott dedicated our time at Travis this week to one-on-one meetings with each 4th grader. After typing and then printing out some of the students’ best pieces, she met with each of them by a ‘kidney shaped’ table to discuss the next steps – from adding an illustration to selecting other pieces of writing to add to the anthology.
While MaryScott hosted the individual meetings, I flitted around the room to help students finish up their comics or sort through the work they had done with WITS this year. Since I started my WITS interneship in mid-January, there was an abundant collection of writing from each student that I had never seen before, including creative responses to work Cy Twombly paintings and the surrealists, poems based on the prompt “If the world were my chalkboard,” and more. I kept an eye on the dates as we flipped through the pages and pages of work, seeing how much was accomplished in such a short time.
Today the Travis kids face their last round of STAAR testing (State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness), and then we’re down to our final two weeks together. The following Tuesday, the kids will be presenting their comics to the the rest of the class.  I’m looking forward to seeing these pieces in motion.
More from the classroom soon!
WITS Intern Eriel

The Lighthouse

Posted & filed under Notebook.

 

Give me lights

on my house,

a glowing roof

and sparkling windows.

My sunglasses are so bright,

like the sun.

I see twinkling stars

above the roof,

candles all around,

and when I walk out

I see my glowing bridge.

As I walk in,

I see fire-beetles

and fire-flies

dancing in the flame.

And when I sleep,

I see the brightest dream.

By Josiah, 6th Grade

Click the link above to listen to the poem read on KPFT radio by  Leah Schultz, an 8th grader at Johnston Middle School For the Performing and Visual Arts in Houston.

This poem is featured as part of the 2013 A Poem a Day campaign, a National Poetry Month celebration by Writers in the Schools (WITS) that features a different poem by a WITS student every day during April. Click here to learn more. 

Special thanks to Susan Phillips, an independent radio producer and KPFT volunteer in Houston, who recorded and produced all the poems for the WITS A Poem a Day campaign.  

We the Children of the World

Posted April 22, 2013 & filed under Notebook.

 

We, the children of the world, want freedom to explore nature.

We, the children of the world, want to know more about space

and why Pluto is so small.

We want honesty so people can have a better world.

We, the children of the world, want no more bad words

that can hurt others’ feelings.

We, the children, of the world want to read, read, read

so that our minds can learn and grow.

We want a lot of money so the children in Kenya do not live in poverty.

We, the children, of the world want a lot of food

so we do not go hungry, and our moms and dads

don’t have to cook so much.

We, the children of the world, want to see

the beaches and hear the oceans.

By Anna, 3rd Grade

Click the link above to listen to the poem read on KPFT radio by Laura Mercado, a 6th grader at Johnston Middle School For the Performing and Visual Arts in Houston.

This poem is featured as part of the 2013 A Poem a Day campaign, a National Poetry Month celebration by Writers in the Schools (WITS) that features a different poem by a WITS student every day during April. Click here to learn more. 

Special thanks to Susan Phillips, an independent radio producer and KPFT volunteer in Houston, who recorded and produced all the poems for the WITS A Poem a Day campaign.  

The Night

Posted April 19, 2013 & filed under Poem of the Day.

Owls are hooting

The stars look pale yellow

like they are invisible

When everyone is asleep

thousands of animals hunt

In the north sky the moon

is bright white

There’s a sweet smell coming

from the trees

The night goes by very fast

like butter slipping out of your hands

until the sun comes up

By Rhea, 5th grade

Click the link above to listen to the poem read on KPFT radio by Jonathan Zepeda, a 6th grader at Johnston Middle School For the Performing and Visual Arts in Houston.

This poem is featured as part of the 2013 A Poem a Day campaign, a National Poetry Month celebration by Writers in the Schools (WITS) that features a different poem by a WITS student every day during April. Click here to learn more. 

Special thanks to Susan Phillips, an independent radio producer and KPFT volunteer in Houston, who recorded and produced all the poems for the WITS A Poem a Day campaign.  

Outdoor Poetry Events on April 20th

Posted April 18, 2013 & filed under Notebook.

Come out and enjoy lovely weather and superb poetry this Saturday, April 20th.  WITS students will participate in events across the city.

image006An incredible line-up of WITS students will be reading their poems and stories on the Menil Entrance Stage at 12 noon as part of the Menil Community & Houston Indie Book Festival. Bring a blanket and stay the whole afternoon!  This annual family-oriented festival features music, film, yoga, children’s story time, and food trucks! WITS writers also will be leading FREE writing tours of the Menil Collection at 1 PM and 3 PM.

66445_authorxaviergarzIn addition to the WITS reading at the Menil Community & Houston Indie Book Festival, several WITS students will read with award-winning author Monica Brown, whose books include Tito PuenteMambo King and Clara and the Curandera, at Discovery Green as part of the Día de los niños/Día de los libros celebration from 12 noon to 2 PM.  This event is also free and open to the public.  It will be kicked off by Houston’s new Poet Laureate, Gwendolyn Zepeda.

Meta-FourLast but not least, our Meta-Four youth performance poets will be making appearances at several parks, including the Park at Palm Center, George T. Nelson Park, and MacGregor Park, as part of the AWE Celebration to promote arts, wellness, and the environment.

 

 

Yellow

Posted April 17, 2013 & filed under Poem of the Day.

Yellow

is a sun

lighting the day.

Yellow is a banana

in my stomach. Yellow

is my mother

forever cleaning

in the kitchen.

Yellow is cold

as gold. It is a rock

a child paints. A yellow blanket

wrapping a baby. It is

the smell of vegetable soup

and birthday cake. Yellow

is a duckling swimming

when the sun is setting.

By Diego, 3rd grade

Click the link above to listen to the poem read on KPFT radio by Trevor Mangum at Johnston Middle School For the Performing and Visual Arts in Houston.

This poem is featured as part of the 2013 A Poem a Day campaign, a National Poetry Month celebration by Writers in the Schools (WITS) that features a different poem by a WITS student every day during April. Click here to learn more. 

Special thanks to Susan Phillips, an independent radio producer and KPFT volunteer in Houston, who recorded and produced all the poems for the WITS A Poem a Day campaign.  

The Birth of a Superhero: The Super Reader

Posted April 16, 2013 & filed under Poem of the Day.

The day I was born, the best

super hero book was published.

My family crowded around that book

in the library, and then I appeared.

They looked at me and assumed

I was a robot toy, but no. I was a boy

with a dictionarial head, and my fingers were book

lights. I smelled of ink and paper from the many

books I read. I arrived in the world with dozens of science

fiction and long chapter books. I was fifteen

inches tall, four inches wide, and four inches in depth.

I had a hoarse and deep voice as if I had been talking

to myself for days on end. I tasted something in my mouth

like factory-fresh cellophane on the new books

coming off the assembly line. The air inside the amazing

circle of curiosity was dense, warm air, and everybody

was sweating. I grew and kept reading

books for the rest of my super hero lifetime.

By Ryan, 3rd Grade

Click the link above to listen to the poem read on KPFT radio by Hannah Reeves, a 8th grader at Johnston Middle School For the Performing and Visual Arts in Houston.

This poem is featured as part of the 2013 A Poem a Day campaign, a National Poetry Month celebration by Writers in the Schools (WITS) that features a different poem by a WITS student every day during April. Click here to learn more. 

Special thanks to Susan Phillips, an independent radio producer and KPFT volunteer in Houston, who recorded and produced all the poems for the WITS A Poem a Day campaign.  

My River

Posted April 15, 2013 & filed under Poem of the Day.


My river begins with hunger.

My mother calls me in my mind.

As I hear her,

hear her,

as she sees me,

I feel that I can touch her

and smell the perfume of her body.

She is a daily memory

as if she passes by me

with her smell of cheetah.

By Kayla, 4th Grade

Click the link above to listen to the poem read on KPFT radio by Kendall Pickens, a 7th grader at Johnston Middle School For the Performing and Visual Arts in Houston.

This poem is featured as part of the 2013 A Poem a Day campaign, a National Poetry Month celebration by Writers in the Schools (WITS) that features a different poem by a WITS student every day during April. Click here to learn more. 

Special thanks to Susan Phillips, an independent radio producer and KPFT volunteer in Houston, who recorded and produced all the poems for the WITS A Poem a Day campaign.  

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.

Life in the Hood

Posted & filed under Poem of the Day.

 

Where I’m from

people be wearing

red and

rockin’ Jordans.

You hear police sirens down the street.

Graffiti everywhere you look.

Where I live

it’s called Denver Harbor.

It smells like smoke when

I take a walk outside.

Where I’m from

people be jammin’ to

Drake, Lil Wayne, Rick Ross

Tyga, Wiz Khalifa.

The cops arrest your

homeboys for no reason.

They give them five years

in prison.

You speak to them

but they won’t listen.

Mothers and fathers devastated.

When you’re in the hood

you gotta make the right choices.

Living at home is hard.

Your parents have that talk

about drugs, sex, and alcohol.

They say, “What kind of life are you going to have?”

By Andrea, 7th Grade

[audio http://wits.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/09-life-in-the-hood-4-11-13.mp3]

Click the link above to listen to the poem read on KPFT radio by Janet Asante, an 8th grader at Johnston Middle School For the Performing and Visual Arts in Houston.

This poem is featured as part of the 2013 A Poem a Day campaign, a National Poetry Month celebration by Writers in the Schools (WITS) that features a different poem by a WITS student every day during April. Click here to learn more. 

Special thanks to Susan Phillips, an independent radio producer in Houston, who recorded and produced all the poems for the WITS A Poem a Day campaign.  

To Live Without

Posted April 10, 2013 & filed under Poem of the Day.

 

To live without air,

to live without water,

I would love to love you,

but a little less.

To live without you is like

A fish that lives without water.

Give me your attention:

A bird that flies without the sky,

A flower that grows without the earth,

To live without your love

Is to live without living.

By Margaret, 2nd Grade

[audio http://wits.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/08-to-live-without-4-10-13.mp3]

Click the link above to listen to the poem read on KPFT radio by Jordan Dora, an 8th grader at Johnston Middle School For the Performing and Visual Arts in Houston.

This poem is featured as part of the 2013 A Poem a Day campaign, a National Poetry Month celebration by Writers in the Schools (WITS) that features a different poem by a WITS student every day during April. Click here to learn more. 

Special thanks to Susan Phillips, an independent radio producer in Houston, who recorded and produced all the poems for the WITS A Poem a Day campaign.  

Slow Beauty

Posted April 9, 2013 & filed under Poem of the Day.

 

A hippo ambles

on the sandy floor.

It strides and staggers

and saunters, uttering a low moan.

With great effort,

after a few minutes

of clear and glossy silence,

it hauls itself back

to the shimmering pond

making soft,

exquisite ripples.

By Seo-Ho, 4th grade

[audio http://wits.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/07-slow-beauty-4-9-13.mp3]

Click the link above to listen to the poem read on KPFT radio by Jailyn Williams, a 6th grader at Johnston Middle School For the Performing and Visual Arts in Houston.

This poem is featured as part of the 2013 A Poem a Day campaign, a National Poetry Month celebration by Writers in the Schools (WITS) that features a different poem by a WITS student every day during April. Click here to learn more. 

Special thanks to Susan Phillips, an independent radio producer in Houston, who recorded and produced all the poems for the WITS A Poem a Day campaign.  

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!

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!

13_publicpoetry_springseries_april

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.

A Poet

Posted April 1, 2013 & filed under Poem of the Day.


When a poet stares at time, everything stops.

When a poet loves, he freezes,

and his heart bursts open like an over-ripe banana.

When a poet thinks, he is so happy he will melt of happiness.

When a poet is angry, he will go crazy.

When a poet is sad, he will cry to death.

When a poet travels to a new land, he gets lost.

When a poet imagines, he sees himself as an astronaut

and then becomes one.

When a poet writes,

he believes nothing is wrong

because he is at his best.

By Saadat, 3rd grade

[audio http://wits.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/01-mon-apr-1st-rev.mp3]

Click the link above to listen to the poem read on KPFT radio by Evangeline Gowen, an 8th  grader at Johnston Middle School For the Performing and Visual Arts in Houston. The background music is by the Michael Silverman Jazz Piano Trio.

This poem is featured as part of the 2013 A Poem A Day campaign, a National Poetry Month celebration by Writers in the Schools (WITS) that features a different poem by a WITS student every day during April. Click here to learn more.

The Average Fourth Grader is a Better Poet than You (and Me Too)

Posted March 18, 2013 & filed under Notebook.

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Please visit Harriet, the literary blog for the Poetry Foundation, so that you can read Hannah Gamble’s guest post “The Average Fourth Grader is a Better Poet Than You (and Me Too).”

Hannah explains how teaching 3rd-6th graders in Houston, Texas, with Writers in the Schools (WITS) made her a better poet.

Hannah, former editor for Gulf Coast: A Journal of Literature and Fine Arts, is the author of Your Invitation to a Modest Breakfast (2012), selected by Bernadette Mayer for the 2011 National Poetry Series.

Thanks for your inspirational words, Hannah!

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

 

What If the Mightiest Word is Love?

Posted February 12, 2013 & filed under Notebook.

What If the Mightiest Word is Love?

website-photoHRBy WITS Writer Harriet Riley

For the last few years, I’ve used a powerful tool called The Matrix during one of my first writing classes with students of all ages. This came from a workshop Community Word Project of New York provided for WITS writers a few years ago. This tool allows students to create new ways of using language and encourages them to “think outside the box” in different ways.After briefly discussing the structure of a poem, I read my students “Praise Song for the Day,” Elizabeth Alexander’s beautiful poem written for Barack Obama’s 2009 inauguration. The poem asks, “What if the mightiest word is love?” First, we have a group “word storm” coming up with words relating to love, texture words and action words. Then, students use their “matrix” (a sheet with a large box with 12 squares inside) to randomly write down two texture words, five words they like the sound of and five words they like the meaning of. They are then instructed to transform words from their matrix into a poetic sentence. I read them guidelines, but the most important is to combine word pairs to create new and different meanings. 

The students each create one poetic sentence and then work with the other students at their table or grouping to combine their lines into stanzas. Then each group performs their stanza to create one combined class poem on love. I videotape their performance and share it with them at the next class.

Here are some of the amazing lines the students created:

Love is peace flowing in the air.
Love is freedom; it will run down a road of fire and reach your sweet heart.
Love is like a diamond in a firework sky.
Love is a courageous intelligent sparkle in my sister’s eye.

Love indeed becomes a life-enhancing proclamation when students try combining words in unusual ways.