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

Iconoclast is a growing community of young artists that provides unique support and encouragement for hundreds of students from five of Houston’s public schools and two juvenile detention centers.

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


Our Program Consists of:

Iconoclast Writing Program - The Iconoclast Writing Program takes place both during the school day in partnership with the Houston Independent School District (HISD) and after school. Typically a weekly course, the program nurtures the 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 HISD schools 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 composed by the students in our programs. Included poets become published authors, which in addition to enhancing their collegiate applications gives them a vision and a voice rooted in their own experience. Proceeds of the anthology go to the educational fund for our participants. Iconoclast’s first anthology, They Say, was published in 2016. Iconoclast's second anthology, They Say Vol. II, is scheduled to be celebrated & released to the public on May 11, 2017, at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston. See our event page for more details.

In addition to the activities outlined above, our students participate in TEDxYouth, as well as in workshops at local colleges and universities.