Series Of Poetry Slams Is Promoting Reading, Writing, And Spoken Word In Houston’s Youth

MetaFour is putting on a series of poetry slams throughout Houston.


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The Houston nonprofit Writers In The Schools has many programs aimed at improving reading and writing for Houston’s youth, like Meta-Four Houston. Professional poets from WITS work with teenagers ranging from 13 to 19 years old, to express themselves through writing and spoken word.

“Dreaming of the day I won’t greet myself like liquor on an open wound I am constantly reminded of things I can’t change.”

That was a poem performed by Jordan Simpson, a student who participated in the first of the poetry slams.

Emanuelee “Outspoken” Bean is the current team coach and has been working with Meta-Four for almost 5 years. Bean explains the premise behind MetaFour,

“This is a program that’s for Houston’s youth specifically. There are so many children’s organizations and things of that nature, so we definitely wanted something that is hip, and that is the pulse of young people.”

Over the past few months WITS has put on several poetry slams throughout Houston. The winners are given a chance to win a spot on the Meta-Four team and a chance to represent Houston in the Annual Brave New Voices International Festival.

“I am a number, a predisposed 1 to 10, a system of 1 to 5 stars based on size and curve and shape, the alignment of shoulders, and face.”

That was the winner of the first slam, Sarah Portugal, a senior at the High School for Performing and Visual Arts in HISD. Sarah describes her experience with the MetaFour program.

“I feel like nowadays people going up and talking about themselves and talking about their opinions and having a space for that is very limited. To have a sacred space to go up and speak for three and a thirty seconds is magical. There is absolutely nothing like it and I think to be provided an opportunity to do that at such a young age really really gives these kids the chance for this trial and error of going up in front of a crowd and talking for the first time, and you know hearing their voices echoing throughout the crowd for the first time is amazing, it’s euphoric.”

The next step for the Meta-Four is the creation of a brand new team with the completion of this year’s poetry slams. The program continues to grow by offering a paid college internship to students wanting become an assistant coach on the team.  

Bean goes on to explain his high expectations for the program.

“Ultimately, we want to be a youth force when it comes to our voices. Meta-Four Houston is here to build platforms. To build safe platforms for young people to heard to be seen to be honored and to be taken serious with their words, and we use poetry slam and we use writing to do that.”  

The final event the Space City Grand Slam takes place on Saturday April 26th at 6:30 pm at Discovery Green.