Ken Robinson: Why Creativity Is As Important as Literacy

Posted June 1, 2011 & filed under Notebook.

Sir Ken Robinson is an author, speaker and international advisor on education and the arts.  He argues that our current schools are killing the creativity in our children, and he explains why an entire overhaul of the education system is necessary.

This week the Texas Senate will continue debating the controversial bill that will cut public school financing. There are many things at stake in this bill, including major reductions to the arts programs.

As we confront a threat to the arts in the face of state-wide spending cuts, Robinson makes a crucial argument for why creativity matters as much as literacy. Check out this video of Robinson’s TED talk on YouTube.

Public Poetry Redux – May 7th, 2 p.m.

Posted May 5, 2011 & filed under Notebook.

The second literary event by Public Poetry will be on May 7th at the Central branch of Houston Public Library at 2 p.m.  The special guest this month is ballet rock star Dominic Walsh. Readers include current WITS writer Samuel Amadon and former WITS writer and Board President, Robin Davidson. WITS student Anna Miller of Travis Elementary will read her work as well. For more information, click here.

The Dream

Posted June 7, 2010 & filed under Notebook.


[Photo by Jiro.h via Flickr]

As I lie in the soft grass,
Feeling the gentle breeze

I look up and watch
The puffed white clouds drifting in the air.

I group the softest clouds together
And dream.

In my dream I see everything
Close to me.

I am in the middle of the road,
On the right side of me is Seattle
On the left side of me is Texas.

In the air
I smell the wild jasmine flowers.

I hear my best friend’s loud voice
Calling my name.

And in the blue sky
I spot my special memory of me.

Dreamily I hear my favorite music
Flowing through the air.

I wish this dream had never ended
But it did.

I opened my eyes slowly
A big smile on my face.

From now on, I thought,
This place is all to me.

Kirthy, 6th grade
Inspired by Calder’s Mobile

Farnoosh Moshiri Discusses Iran at the Crossroads

Posted August 17, 2009 & filed under Notebook.

Former WITS Writer Farnoosh Moshiri will do a special presentation at Rice University on Thursday:

Iran at the CrossroadsFarnoosh moshiri
A Reading With Iranian Novelist in Exile Farnoosh Moshiri

sponsored by Asia Society Texas Center.

From the Asia Society flyer:

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad took the oath of office for a second term this month amid continuing protests against what many see as a fraud-tainted vote.

To explore events unfolding in Iran, Asia Society Texas Center hosts novelist Farnoosh Moshiri, whose books and life reflect the political traumas of her native country since the 1979 revolution.

As a budding playwright in Tehran, Moshiri saw friends and colleagues imprisoned by the Khomeini government. Fired from her job, her play banned, she fled Iran in 1983, spending years as a refugee in Afghanistan and India before making her way in 1987 to Houston. Her novels At the Wall of the Almighty, The Bathhouse, and Against Gravity and her short-story collection The Crazy Dervish and the Pomegranate Tree explore the suffering of those imprisoned and brutalized in the Islamic Republic. In addition to commenting on the election, Moshiri will answer questions and read from her work.

7 p.m. Thursday, August 20, 2009

Herring Hall, Rice University Campus

Free for ASTC Members

$10 for Non-Members

For more information, click here.

Tonight at The Menil Collection, WITS Students will Read Original Poetry Inspired by Art

Posted June 16, 2009 & filed under Notebook.

This evening in The Menil Collection (1515 Sul Ross, 77006), Writers in the Schools (WITS)  and The Menil Collection will debut new work from their most recent collaboration in a poetry reading titled, Ekphrasis: Poems about Paintings.  The reading is the culmination of a project that used five specific works of art as a springboard for creative expression.   Click here to read more.

Tonight’s readers are participants in the Summer Creative Writing Workshops at The Shlenker School campus.  They are:
high school menil 603
Sara Doyle, 2nd Grade
Ivana Hsyung, 2nd Grade
Cheryl Lim, 2nd Grade
Sophia Ellis, 3rd Grade
Megan Hoang, 3rd Grade
Allison Lee, 3rd Grade
Max Rubenstein, 3rd Grade
Lydia McGaha, 4th Grade
Connor Sweeney, 4th Grade
Angie Tai, 4th Grade
Emily Clements, 5th Grade
Seshni Naidoo, 5th Grade
Samantha Roquemore, 5th Grade
Kirthy Kunthara, 6th Grade
Amritaa Sonnylal, 6th Grade
Jessica Tharaud, 6th Grade

The writers who teach these students will read as well.

This event is free and open to the public.  Please join WITS for an evening of poetry inspired by art!

In Celebration of a Shadow

Posted October 22, 2008 & filed under Notebook.

A reading inspired by the poet Emily Dickinson will take place at the Rothko Chapel on Wednesday, October 22.  This event was organized by former WITS board member and celebrated poet Mark Doty.  The focus will be on contemporary poetry inspired by Emily Dickinson.  Doty, as well as special guest poets Alice Fulton and Susan Howe, will read some on their own poems alongside Dickinson’s work.

Who: Mark Doty, Alice Fulton, Susan Howe

What: A Long Shadow: Emily Dickinson and Contemporary Poets

When: 7 p.m. on October 22, 2008

Where: The Rothko Chapel, Houston (1409 Sul Ross, 77006)

Cost: Free. The public is welcome.

Austin Slams Will Determine the Final Four

Posted March 25, 2008 & filed under Notebook.



Presented by the Texas Youth Word Collective

WHAT: Austin City Wide Under 21 Poetry Slam #6

WHEN: Saturday, March 29th, 2008 @ 5:00 pm

HOW MUCH: $5 cover, free for slammers and children under 5

WHERE: Ruta Maya World Headquarters, 3601 S. Congress, Austin , Texas

FOR MORE INFO: u21slam [at] yahoo.comThis event will determine the team that will represent Austin in the nation’s capitol this summer at the Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam Festival (BNV). The organizers promise “gut wrenching, heart pounding, awe inspiring action, as young wordsmiths battle for the chance to showcase their skills on the national stage.”

Young Cancer Patients Tell It Like It Is

Posted March 9, 2008 & filed under Notebook.

We tend to think that serious illnesses are for adults, but unfortunately that’s not always the case. When a child has cancer, in addition to the regimen of medical treatments prescribed, a daily dose of self-expression is also recommended.


Children who are cancer patients at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center get a chance to work with writers and artists on a regular basis. In a new art exhibit, these patient tell their stories through photography, art, and writing. It is part of the international FotoFest 2008.

WITS collaborated with FotoFest 2008, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center (Artful Happenings), The Museum of Printing History, the Houston Center for Photography, and survivors of childhood cancer to produce thought-provoking altered self-portraits that represent their journey toward healing.

Young patients photographed each other, altered the images with various media, and wrote about their experiences to create this inventive and moving exhibit. Witness the power and transformation that children undergo during cancer treatment in this exhibition at The Museum of Printing History March 13-31st.

Please join us for a reception honoring the young writers and artists:

March 13, 6 p.m.
The Museum of Printing History
1324 W Clay Street, Houston, TX

Some of the children will read their poems and stories. This event is free, and the public is invited.

The Thread that Binds: Art by Houston Women

Posted March 4, 2008 & filed under Notebook.


WITS Writers Carina Gauna and Diana Muniz will be featured in an Art Exhibit at MECA running from March 1 – 15. “The Thread that Binds” is part of an exhibition of female artists from diverse backgrounds and cultures. The public is invited to the Opening Reception on March 6th, 2008, at MECA.

Visual Art Exhibit: The Thread that Binds

ON DISPLAY: March 1-15, 2008
Featuring work from female artists from diverse backgrounds and cultures in celebration of Women’s Month.

OPENING RECEPTION: Thursday, March 6, 2008 – 7 p.m. at MECA (MAP: Click Here)



  1900 Kane Street
Houston, TX 77007
  Time:7:00 PM

(photo by sillydog via flickr)

Beach Time

Posted September 24, 2007 & filed under Notebook.

beach.jpg I love going to the beach in Galveston. I like to walk in the sand. It feels like quicksand, like I’m sinking. Sometimes I bury my feet in the sand. The water is brownish and the waves aren’t very high. I walk out a little way, but not too far. Sometimes I think a crab is pinching my toe, but it isn’t. I hear the waves hitting the shore and people laughing. I love going to the beach.

by Tobi, age 8
Texas Children’s Hospital
[photo by Eschipul via Flickr]

Poetry Slam: The Next Generation

Posted August 7, 2007 & filed under Notebook.

The national poetry slam comes to Austin next week. Here are the details.

DATE & TIME: Saturday, Aug. 11th, 3:15 – 4:45 pm
PLACE: Ruta Maya World Headquarters, 3601 S. Congress, Austin TX
For more information, contact the Texas Youth Word Collective.

HYPE: What do you get when you combine the Texas Youth Word Collective’s Austin Under 21 Poetry Slam with the National Poetry Slam and Austin Poetry Slam? One incredible afternoon of spoken word artistry! Come hear some of the best youth slammers from across the country compete for the title of National Youth Slam Champion!

Here’s the stage for the next generation, open to all poets under the age of 21. The slam will be hosted by Kim Holzer (Durham, NC), Saturday, August 11th, 3:15 – 4:45 p.m., Ruta Maya Int’l Headquarters, 3601 S. Congress, D-200, Austin. Free.

And be sure to check out the rest of the National Poetry Slam! A Youth Writing Workshop will take place on Friday, Aug. 10th, 2:30-4:00, at the Hideout Upstairs. The competition will involve more than 300 poets competing and reading at many of the venues that serve as home to performers during Austin’s famed SXSW Conference. This year’s NPS will draw audiences numbering in the thousands to the premier annual showcase for performance poetry. The event will culminate with the Individual Finals show on Friday, August 10, and the Team Finals show on Saturday, August 11; both events will be at Austin’s historic Paramount Theater, home to sold-out poetry competitions when Austin hosted the National Poetry Slam in 1998 and 2006. Tickets for both events, as well as passes for the entire week of competitions, readings, and late-night shows, will be available at