If I lived in the forest, I would see turtles
and smell the flowers.
I would be a bird and fly away,
and would climb trees so high…
I would even jump in the water
with the turtles,
and give them food,
and they’d better not bite my fingers
or I would scream!
If I lived in the forest, I would touch
the mushrooms and they would be soft.
I would be a bird and make bird sounds.
by Mackenzie, 3rd grade
Writers in the Schools has partnered with the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center since 2002 to engage urban youth with their environment, exposing and educating students on the natural world.
Registration is filling up quickly!
Within the first 20 minutes of open registration, over 100 students enrolled in Creative Writing Camp, a WITS record! Though it comes as no surprise – with our 8 campuses, 70 classrooms, and now 23 years of camp – that parents and kids look to Creative Writing Camp as a staple of their summer plans. Enroll now and find out why Houston Press described the workshops as the “best effort to inject culture into Houston” and AOL City’s Best listed it among Houston’s 6 Best Summer Camps for Kids.
About Creative Writing Camp
Creative Writing Camp offers a supportive environment where children engage in writing stories, poetry, essays, and plays, as well as simply reading for pleasure. Through these activities even the most hesitant child discovers the joy in writing, the intrigue of language, and the confidence of authorship. Students will work with teachers and writers, and the low teacher-student ratios ensure individual attention. Workshops end with a culminating performance and/or reading, and each child will receive an anthology with their published work.
The Summer Creative Writing Workshops are offered by Writers in the Schools in collaboration with Rice University’s School Literacy and Culture Project (SLC).
Check out the 2012 Camp Highlights:
2012 Creative Writing Camp Highlights from Writers in the Schools on Vimeo.
I believe in the pink, fresh flowers
That grow slowly in a garden.
I believe in the aroma of the strawberry, sweet perfume
That flows through the air.
I believe in the soft rain
That falls from the clouds to the ground.
I believe in the slippery black and white penguin
That plays with me.
I believe in the sour, yellow lemon with salt
That I adore.
I believe that one day I will see all of nature
That I am missing.
I believe in me.
by Julieta, 3rd grade
In partnership with Aurora Picture Show’s Media Arts Instructors Felisa Prieto and Camilo Gonzalez, students at KIPP Academy created short films from poems written in their WITS program with writer Autumn Hayes. Aurora was brought in to collaborate on creating stop-motion animation films from these poems. Enjoy!
I saw your photo.
You were sitting in a police car;
you were going to jail.
You were strange
because you were not crying
when I saw you.
Just eating in a white
restaurant, that should not
have been big trouble.
You were fighting for your rights,
your rights as a citizen of these United States.
I know your dream is peace,
Maybe your children
wait for you at home;
maybe your sister needs
help with the cooking;
maybe your dear husband
wants to give you a birthday surprise.
But everything was broken
by the foolish rule about skin color.
Now, because of your courage,
your dream has come true.
Our dream has come true.
Everyone is equal in this free country,
whatever their skin color.
And we even have
an African American president
in our great country.
you helped to make our history.
You are successful beyond your dream.
by Tianli, 10th grade
Published in the 2011 The Watchful Eye Anthology, inspired by Civil Rights-Era Photographs at the Menil Collection
Students Writing at the Menil
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)
Experiments I’ve tested on me,
trouble is key,
a raft that’ll throw me in darkness,
cars that will send unbelievable gifts like punches,
decades filled with insults,
I run and don’t stop to look back.
No food, no water.
Never leaves my head, never.
Sailors taunt me with burgers and water.
Nobody here, but me,
nothing but green grass.
I’m old, but not dead yet.
Midnight fills me,
nothing fills my body.
My life ends with a lily.
by Gwyneth, 4th grade
Student Writer at Discovery Green
It doesn’t always have to rhyme,
but there’s the repeat of a beat, somewhere
an inner chime that makes you want to
tap your feet or swerve in a curve;
a lilt, a leap, a lightning – split: –
thunderstruck the consonants jut,
while the vowels open wide as waves in the noon-
by Eve Merriam (1916-1992)
This is a poem that greatly influenced new WITS Writer Florence Miyamoto.
Layla Benitez-James was born and raised in Austin, Texas. She realized early on that she absolutely loved Texas and studied English, Spanish, and creative writing at Trinity University in San Antonio. She was lucky enough to continue her Texas tour in Houston where she is currently an MFA student in the University of Houston’s creative writing program. Layla enjoys riding her horse, Tonka, and reading and writing poetry and short fiction.
As a new WITS writer I would love to help young writers discover new authors who inspire lifelong obsessions with creative writing. I remember getting obsessed with different lines of poetry or novels and they would just play in my head over and over and eventually find their way into my own work.
I was first introduced to Edna St. Vincent Millay in seventh grade with the poem “Counting-Out Rhyme.” I loved all of its rhymes and rhythms and memorized it so I could have it with me wherever I went. I cannot read it or recite it without smiling.
Silver bark of beech, and sallow
Bark of yellow birch and yellow
Twig of willow.
Stripe of green in moosewood maple,
Colour seen in leaf of apple,
Bark of popple.
Wood of popple pale as moonbeam,
Wood of oak for yoke and barn-beam,
Wood of hornbeam.
Silver bark of beech, and hollow
Stem of elder, tall and yellow
Twig of willow.
Landscape with Birds by Lucien Freud
My fall made a fortune of the alphabet
The small city trembled like a drum
Opera chants smelled like garlic
The sky looked like a clump of salt
Your secret was a gift to the tongue
The continent filled with ashes
The ink slipped into my tongue
The metaphor shot tomorrow into a million pieces
The flame jumped into a storm of Oklahoma stars
The crowd leaped over the fortune of gifts
In the morning my tongue swallowed my flute
Friday was born by laughing and remembering
My spitted truth made a knot in my tongue
by Luis, 7th grade
Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Centers
You see paintings shaped in upright rectangles.
But I see stars and a moon and also a blue sky.
There was a shooting star.
I made a wish to get everything purple.
It came true!
Now I am inspired to look at art and see
its true colors.
by Senyea, 4th grade
From Writing at the Menil, a 22-year old collaboration between Writers in the Schools (WITS) and the Menil Collection
Poems for a Quarter Century
Saturday, November 3, 2012
7:00 p.m. Free Public Program
Sasha West, poet, professor, and literary editor, will curate an evening of poetry readings about art and artists whose work hangs in the Menil Collection, including poems by Writers in the Schools students who visited the museum through the Writing at the Menil program. The Menil Collection is celebrating its 25th year anniversary with special events and programs.
Students reading art-inspired works at The Watchful Eye Reading in May at the Menil
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:
Join Meta-Four Houston every fourth Friday of the month to participate in a FREE spoken word workshop and poetry slam!
When: 7:00 pm – Workshop
8:00 pm – Slam
*Note: You must attend workshop to participate in the poetry slam
Where: Hope Stone Dance Studio
1210 West Clay
Meta-Four Houston encourages self-expression and literacy among Houston’s youth through creative writing and performance.
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).”
Schedule and Lineup for the Weekend:
Willow Street Pump Station, 811 North San Jacinto
Friday, October 12 @ 7:30 p.m.
Lillian Susan Thomas
Norma Edwards Koontz
Daniel Carrington, Jr.
Terry Jude Miller
John E. Rice
UHD Visiting Writers
Meta-Four Houston (info)
Saturday, October 13 @ 1:00 pm to 4:30 pm
Traditional Open Reading
Saturday, October 13 @ 7:30 pm
Lynn C. Reynolds
Sylvia Riojas Vaughn
Elisa A. Garza
Larry L. Fontenot
Kelly Ann Ellis
Sunday, October 14 @ 2 pm
Deborah “D.E.E.P.” Mouton
Geraldine Gobi Greig
Carolyn Praytor Boyd
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:
February 13 (Celebration)
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.