Can poetry block the school to prison pipeline? We think it can. 

Iconoclast Artists is a growing community of young artists that provides unique support and encouragement for hundreds of under-served students within high schools, middle schools and juvenile detention centers.  With classroom instruction in creative writing and expression, Iconoclast takes over core curriculum classes every week to provide academic, artistic, and social/emotional support.

Founded in 2014 by Marlon Lizama and Matthew Russell, Iconoclast is cultivating a new imagination among the next generation of creators.  Iconoclast seeks to nurture improbable friendships that span the boundaries of race, religion, socio-economics and ethnicity, and to give the art that emerges a platform. By coming together to write, discuss ideas, and perform, we are building a brave space for Iconoclast's students and a new reality for our city.

Our Program Consists of:

Iconoclast Writing Program - The Iconoclast Writing Program takes place during the school day in partnership with the Houston, Spring Branch, and Galveston Independent School Districts and after school. Typically a weekly course, the program nurtures artistic and educational imagination using original writing exercises and close readings of both classic and contemporary poets.

Iconoclast Sessions - The Iconoclast Sessions are quarterly performance gatherings free and open to the public that pair an academic poet with an urban poet. In addition to introducing our students to a wide variety of literary expressions, Iconoclast Sessions create a context where communities that would not otherwise meet begin to build friendships.

Iconoclast Sessions 2 - Iconoclast Sessions 2 are gatherings totally devoted to student performances. Our students take the stage and deliver their poetry to a live audience.

Iconoclast Curriculums- The two Iconoclast Curriculums are innovative guides and writing exercises: one developed for the school systems and the other created for the broader community. Iconoclast Curriculum: HISD meets requirements for public school testing prep and other lesson-planning checklists, while Iconoclast Curriculum: Community is designed to be immediately accessible to students and mentors who are hungry for independent study. The curriculum is currently in place at Sharpstown High School, Middle College High School, Northside High School, Northbrook Middle School, Burnett Bayland Rehabilitation Center, & Leadership Academy.

Iconoclast Anthology - Each year, Iconoclast publishes an anthology of poetry and short stories written by the students in our program. As published authors, these students not only have the opportunity to enhance their collegiate applications, but also to express their vision through a voice rooted in their own experience to a wide audience. Proceeds of the anthology go to the educational fund for Iconoclast students. The first anthology, They Say, was published in 2016. Iconoclast's second anthology, They Say Vol. II, was celebrated & released to the public May, 2017 at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. The release of the third anthology will be celebrated on May 11, 2018. See our event page for upcoming news of this event.

Social Emotional Learning - Iconoclast has piloted a program based on understanding brain function and creating new neural pathways for coping emotionally. Using mindfulness practices and exercises, Iconoclast’s experienced specialists work with teachers, students, and student leaders, both individually and within various specialized support groups, in order to create social and emotional awareness, enhance psychological well-being, and promote academic success.

Iconoclast students also participate in TEDxYouth and in workshops at local colleges and universities.  




Marlon “Marley” Lizama


Matthew Russell


Torrina Harris


Jessica Lara


Susan Ferrer


Mario Jaramillo


Lupe Mendez


Lissette Aya “DJ ILL SET”




Jasminne Mendez

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Dr. Mick Gower

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Malcolm Guite