Posted January 4, 2013 & filed under Notebook.

Nature Writing at the Houston Arboretum

I have a turtle
And I can see him
But no one else can
He runs fast
As a cheetah
Because he is invisible
He eats candy
For dessert
And fish
For dinner
He feels as bumpy

Nature Writing at the Houston Arboretum

As the street
And smells like the lake
He is slimy
And has a house
That no one can see
In the north
by Giovanni, 2nd grade

Meet New WITS Writer Meghan Gorry

Posted December 13, 2012 & filed under Notebook.

Meghan Gorry is a writer of fiction and native Houstonian. She received her Bachelor’s degree from Rice University, where she studied English and Latin American literature and worked as a Writing Consultant for fellow undergraduates.  She has lived in Argentina and spent the past two years studying in Paris at the Sorbonne. Meghan is happy to be back in Houston and excited about her first year working with WITS:

I am really happy to be working with WITS this year. Children have important stories to tell, and I look forward to helping them find their writing voices.

Writing that inspired Meghan as a kid:

The Witches by Roald Dahl

“She might even be your lovely school-teacher who is reading these words to you at this very moment. Look carefully at that teacher. Perhaps she is smiling at the absurdity of such a suggestion. Don’t let that put you off. It could be part of cleverness.

I am not, of course, telling you for one second that your teacher actually is a witch. All I am saying is that she might be one. It is most unlikely. But–here comes the big “but”–not impossible.”

Meet New WITS Writer Megan Applegate

Posted November 15, 2012 & filed under Notebook.

WITS Writer Megan Applegate

A southern girl (and proud Texas Aggie) at heart, Megan earned her MFA in creative writing in 2004 and celebrated by spending the next seven years in Alaska. She currently resides in the Katy area with her Prince Charming husband and four amazing children. Life is never dull around the Applegate house. A former reporter who loves to ask a million questions, Megan writes middle grade fiction and specializes in fairy tales, folklore, and mythology… believing every story needs at least one troll!

This year, Megan’s biggest hope in the WITS program is to model the idea that imagination can take you anywhere and that you’re never too young, too old, or too anything to dream (and write!) big. Megan’s inspiration has always been Shel Silverstein, and “Crowded Tub” was the first poem she ever memorized:

“Crowded Tub”

There are too many kids in this tub
There are too many elbows to scrub
I just washed a behind that I’m sure wasn’t mine
There are too many kids in this tub.

A Celebration of Story

Posted November 8, 2012 & filed under Notebook.

Thank you to all of the volunteers, host committee, board, staff, and supporters that have made tonight possible!

Rothko Chapel

Posted October 2, 2012 & filed under Notebook.

Rothko Chapel

I think they were praying

for their dads, moms, brothers

and sisters. I think somebody

was praying for his mother

because she died. There are

white walls. The paintings are blue, black,

brown, and dark blue. The ceiling is

rough like the cement on the streets.

One painting looks likes clouds.

There is a train in another.

There is a cemetery. There are

six people burying someone.

I think the cemetery represents

where the artist that painted

these pictures died.

-by Eliseo, 3rd grade

Happy 109th Birthday to Mark Rothko! Our Writing at the Menil Program and the students who have walked through the Rothko Chapel have been continually inspired.

Meet New Writer Mark Williams

Posted October 1, 2012 & filed under Notebook.

WITS Writer Mark Williams

Mark Williams grew up outside Chicago, IL. He taught junior high and high school English there for three years before moving south—first to Boone, NC; then Louisville, KY; and now Houston. Currently, Mark is finishing a PhD in Rhetoric and Composition from the University of Louisville, where he has also studied creative writing.

Here are Mark’s thoughts on working with WITS:

I think creative work—doing our own, seeing others’—is how we all find out we have more in common (and more we can say) than we realized. But finding that out takes trust, and a lot of scaffolding. I can’t wait to join teachers and students in building both.

My favorite book as a child was Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton. Here’s a favorite section:

Credit: BetterWorldBooks

And it was Mike Mulligan

and Mary Anne

and some others

who dug the deep holes

for the cellars

of the tall skyscrapers

in the big cities.

When people used to stop

and watch them,

Mike Mulligan and Mary Anne

used to dig a little faster

and a little better.

Meet New WITS Writer Patrick James

Posted September 19, 2012 & filed under Notebook.

New WITS Writer Patrick James

Patrick Clement James is a poet, essayist, and musician. A graduate of the Manhattan School of
Music, he is currently a Master of Fine Arts candidate at the University of Houston. Having taught in
Montessori and public schools, he is excited to engage educationally with the community of Houston. In this capacity, he hopes to help students discover the power of their experiences, voices, and imaginations. One of his first resonating encounters with literature was when he read, for the first time, the final paragraph of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland:

“Lastly, she pictured to herself how this same little sister of hers would, in the after-time, be herself a
grown woman; and how she would keep, through all her riper years, the simple and loving heart of her childhood: and how she would gather about her other little children, and make their eyes bright and eager with many a strange tale, perhaps even with the dream of Wonderland of long-ago: and how she would feel with all their simple sorrows, and find a pleasure in all their simple joys, remembering her own child-life, and the happy summer days.”

Welcome to the WITS team Patrick!

Join us Saturday for LibroFEST!

Posted September 14, 2012 & filed under Notebook.

Join WITS this Saturday, September 15th in celebrating Hispanic writers at Librofest, a book and arts festival that highlights the Latino community. A free event hosted by the Houston Public Library, Librofest will include storytelling, writing workshops, book giveaways, crafts, and performances for the whole family. This inaugural festival will feature a reading from several celebrated poets and writers including Gwendolyn Zepeda, Claudia Kolker, Javier O. Huerta, and Sarah Cortez. Feel free to stop by exhibitors’ tables and discover what’s new from Writers in the Schools, Arte Público Press, Casa Ramírez, Houston Public Library, Literal magazine, MECA, Nuestra Palabra, and Society for the Performing Arts.

WITS will be hosting a free workshop for kids at Librofest, located in the library’s main building (first floor gallery area) at 1:45 pm. WITS Writers Weezie Mackey and Carmen Jacobsen will lead students in exercises that explore creativity and celebrate Latino community and culture.

Fun for all ages! We can’t wait to see you there!

When & Where

Saturday, September 15, 2012
11:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Houston Public Library’s Central Library Plaza
500 McKinney St.
Houston, TX 77002

For more information, click here or call 832-393-1313.

Listen to WITS Writers Tonight

Posted September 13, 2012 & filed under Notebook.

Current WITS Writer Miah Arnold and past WITS Writer Sarah Cortez will be reading at Kaboom Books tonight at LitFuse’s Fall Season Opener.

Thursday, September 13, 2012
Kaboom Book in Woodland Heights

7:30 PM, free

Here’s the announcement from LitFuse:

WITS Writer Miah Arnold

For our Welcome To Fall season opener, LitFuse is excited to welcome three of Houston’s very best: Miah Arnold, Marc Phillips, and Sarah Cortez. Miah Arnold is the author of Sweet Land of Bigamy (Tyrus Books 2012). Her essay, “You Owe Me” (originally published by Michigan Quarterly Review) will appear in Best American Essays 2012. She grew up in a house attached to The Three Legged Dog Saloon in rural Utah, studied history at Carleton College, and earned a Ph. D. in writing and literature at the University of Houston. She has served as a fiction editor at Gulf Coast and a poetry editor at Lyric Poetry Review. Her work has appeared in Michigan Quarterly Review, Nanofiction, Confrontation, Painted Bride Quarterly, and the South Dakota Review. She has received a Barthelme Award, an Inprint/Diana P. Hobby Award, and an Established Artists Grant from the Houston Arts Alliance for her work.

Marc Phillips. “Author, journalist, in print since 1991. Award-winning short stories, poetry. Debut novel The Legend of Sander Grant (Telegram 2009). Lives in Houston.”

Former WITS Writer Sarah Cortez

Sarah Cortez is the author of an acclaimed poetry collection, How to Undress a Cop, and winner of the PEN Texas literary award in poetry. She edited Urban Speak: Poetry of the City; Windows into My World: Latino Youth Write Their Lives (winner of the 2008 Skipping Stones Honor Award); Hit List: The Best of Latino Mystery; and Indian Country Noir (Akashic Books). In May 2011, her latest project entitled You Don’t Have a Clue: Latino Mystery Stories for Teens was released by Arte Público Press. Her most recent title is “Walking Home: Growing Up Hispanic in Houston,” a mixed-genre, groundbreaking memoir. Her work has appeared in The Sun, Rattle: Poetry for the 21st Century, The Houston Chronicle, the Dallas Morning News, The Texas Review, New Texas, Louisiana Review, Blue Rock Review, Pennsylvania English, The Midwest Quarterly and elsewhere and is widely anthologized in collections by Penguin, the Great Books Foundation, and other international publishers.

Happy Arts in Education Week!

Posted September 10, 2012 & filed under Notebook.

This week is National Arts in Education Week. Ask your schools about their commitment to arts education, and ask them about WITS!


Light’s Reflection

Posted August 8, 2012 & filed under Notebook.

I look into a clear blue river
That whispers to me, “Look here! Look here!”
And so I satisfy my curiosity and see a sliver
Of light outstretch a hand into where
I then see a collision of color
That tastes of sweet solace and content
With the thought of no longer returning to the other
Side of the light. The side where everything has so much intent
And all is done as asked from the city. But I
Know I feel the relief of this stream helping
Me defeat all existing anxiety within my eye
And giving me this chance to rest and dream, finally begin forgetting.
Life is a struggle endured every day
So one should just breathe we know
Everything will be okay.

by Hannah, 10th grade

WITS Writer Miah Arnold Launches Her Debut Novel

Posted August 2, 2012 & filed under Notebook.

WITS writer Miah Arnold began the launch of her first published novel with a book signing at Brazos Bookstore on July 19, almost selling out of the pre-ordered books on hand. Arnold has been on a national book reading/signing tour since.

Arnold is a fiction writer from rural Utah educated at Carleton College, The New School for Social Research, and the University of Houston where she earned a PhD in creative writing and literature. Her stories appear in a number of literary magazines, including Confrontation, Painted Bride Quarterly, and the South Dakota Review. She won a Barthelme Award for nonfiction in 2006 and the Inprint/Diana P. Hobby Award for her fiction at the University of Houston in 2008.

In Sweet Land of Bigamy, the main character, Helen, falls in love with and marries a poet from India, while her first husband is away in Iraq. “The Sweet Land of Bigamy is a funny and surprisingly touching exploration of what marriage can be.” Visit Miah’s web site for more reviews, information about her book tour, and to read her latest blog posts.

Upcoming Readings: 

Aug. 4 Reading at Auntie’s Books in Spokane, Washington
Aug. 6 Reading at Elliott Bay Book Company in Seattle, Washington
Aug. 7 Reading at Broadway Books in Portland, Oregon

WITS Students Create Walking Tour with Poetry

Posted July 27, 2012 & filed under Notebook.


The 2011-12  Writers In The Schools class at Meadow Wood Elementary School consisted of 69 amazing, creative students and 3 teachers who worked hard to honor the building of a new school. The students collected objects and memories to place in a time capsule; then they scripted a poem, with each student reading his/her line, which you can listen to as you walk a 1 mile walking tour through SPARK Park. Click here to access the audio walking tour and a map of the park. Congrats to a wonderful project honoring our city!

Time Capsule Items

Hear Our Houston is a collection of public generated audio walking tours around Houston.

Collage Poetry Game at Camp

Posted June 13, 2012 & filed under Notebook.

Rob Kimbro, a theatre director and educator, is co-teaching with WITS writer Kiki Przewlocki a class of entering 3rd graders at the Creative Writing Camp this summer and shared this about his first day:

Writer John Looking for Inspiration

The 3rd grade class at Travis Elementary got off to a great start with a game of Everybody Who…  This game is similar to Musical Chairs.  The person without a chair has to share something true about themselves, and everybody else for whom that thing is true has to get up a find a new chair.  When the chaos dies down, a new person is left in the middle. That person shares a true thing about themselves, and we’re off again.  After learning a lot about each other, we wrote poems based on what we’d shared.  Here’s a collage poem made of lines from each of the young writers.

Collage Poem

I am poetic

I am an illustrator

I like sushi

I know how to write in cursive

I am really, really strong

I have been on a plane

I hate sushi

I like to read and write

I want to be awesome

I like chocolate marshmallows

I am a great artist

I love sports

I have an ear for everything

I can ride a bike

I have good parents

I have a good sense of humor

I like math

I have a bunk bed

I love the computer

I ate chocolate ice cream last week

My dance style is snazzy

Students Will Rock the Menil

Posted May 11, 2012 & filed under Notebook.


On Thursday, May 17th, at 7pm, Writers in the Schools (WITS) students will share their art-inspired creative writing at the Menil Collection. This reading, called The Watchful Eye, will feature stories, essays, and poems that come out of a collaborative project called Writing at the Menil. The event is free, and the public is welcome.

Blooms: The Young Writers Reading Series at Discovery Green!

Posted May 1, 2012 & filed under Notebook.

Writers in the Schools (WITS) will celebrate some of Houston’s most talented young artists at its Young Writers Reading, an annual literary event held May 6th, at 3 pm at Discovery Green Park in downtown Houston. The event is free and open to the public.

WITS Young Writers Reading event enriches the lives of students ranging from elementary to high school age by giving them the chance to read the work they have written under the guidance of a professional writer. Each student has been chosen from a juried competition. WITS publishes the best work in a bound anthology called Blooms.

The Young Writers Reading Series began in 1989 as a way to celebrate the achievements of the city’s most gifted young writers.  For more information, visit

You won’t want to miss this wonderful event at Discovery Green!  Arrive early to play with our friends from Playworks Houston.  Please come out on Sunday to support Houston’s youngest poets and writers!

Horse Barn

Posted April 26, 2012 & filed under Poem of the Day.

When we get there

the horses in their stalls

paw the dirt.

I cough in the dust.

We grab the feed,

and they whinny at me

when I pass by.

I get a brush; very tenderly

I scrape off the dirt.

They are as dusty and steamy

as a train when it chugs

down the track.

When we feed the mares,

their babies skip after us.

They run so fast

they fall.

by Isabella, 3rd grade

Click the link (above) to listen to the poem read on KPFT radio by Gabriel Arnold, a 4th grade student at Parker Elementary in Houston.


This poem is featured as part of the 2012 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 Rock

Posted April 25, 2012 & filed under Poem of the Day.

I block

the feelings that beat

against my shell.

I have beauty inside me

longing to be shown

to the world.

I am stiff with

the emotions that swirl

in my body.

I watch the butterflies

dance around me

with flaps of pride.

When it rains, I show

my shiny shell to the

lady called the flower.

She drops a warm petal on me

to show that we are no

different in soul.

For what would life be

without soul?

It doesn’t matter

what you have within,

only the soul matters.

As the sun’s rays hammer

into me, my beauty

faintly shows.

I am a rock.

by Ioana, 3rd grade

Click the link (above) to listen to the poem read on KPFT radio by Thomas Girardet, a 4th grade student at Parker Elementary in Houston.

This poem is featured as part of the 2012 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.

Bring Me the Happiness

Posted April 23, 2012 & filed under Poem of the Day.

Photo by Kate Brennan

The dream of freedom

Is the dream I seek

To escape these four

Walls which surround me.

To finally be able to dream

And think that I can make

All my dreams come true.

The dream of freedom means

No more threats

No more harassing words

No more “I am not the same.”

No more shame for not being like you.

This dream seems like it’s too far away

But bring me freedom!

Bring me the happiness of the day

When no living human will be ashamed

Of the way they look or feel.

Just bring me the dream of freedom

That one day is almost here.

Let it begin today.

by Kelly, 6th grade

Click the link (above) to listen to the poem read on KPFT radio by Alex Puente, 4th grade, and Kennedi Foust, 2nd grade, both students at Parker Elementary in Houston.

This poem is featured as part of the 2012 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.


Posted April 19, 2012 & filed under Poem of the Day.

–Inspired by the Cy Twombly Gallery

Cy Twombly "Untitled Parts III and IV" 1988

I feel the sorrow going through my veins

as I jump into the pond.

I sink, the crystal clear tree

reflecting in the lake.

I fall with my joyless life,

sink and sink into the green.

I land on a fish. We

swim into an underwater land.

My sorrowful face turns

joyful, like finding a smiling pot of gold.

There is no hole in my heart anymore;

gray rainy clouds suddenly break

into blue, a gold flaming sun.

by Malia, 4th grade

Click the link (above) to listen to the poem read on KPFT radio by Jasmin Rubio, a 4th grader from Parker Elementary in Houston.

This poem is featured as part of the 2012 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.