D.C. Creative Writing Workshop
D.C. Creative Writing Workshop, based in the Congress
Heights neighborhood of Southeast D.C., has united parents, teachers
and students to create a literary renaissance in this often ignored
part of the city.
1995, when Charles Hart Junior High became the first school in Washington
to have an extra-curricular creative writing program, the Workshop's
writers-in-residence have introduced thousands of students to the
joys of self-expression and the written word, opening for them a
world of opportunity that exists outside of the historically neglected
area in which they live.
continuing to serve Hart, now a middle school, the Workshop expanded
its programs in 2004 to neighboring Ballou High School and Simon
Elementary. Students from the three schools have attended readings,
plays and other literary events, won dozens of writing awards, and
enjoyed a wealth of new experiences not otherwise available to young
people in Ward 8.
2011, DCCWW Executive Director Nancy Schwalb was presented with
a Local Hero Award by the Bank of America Foundation as part of
its Neighborhood Excellence Initiative.
Workshop's accomplishments include:
In 2012, nineteen
DCCWW students won awards in city-wide writing competitions. Thirteen
winners in the Parkmont Poetry Contest were ours. Remarkably, twelve
of the twenty winners in the Middle School category were our students
from Hart Middle School. Our students swept first, second, and third
place in Youth Poetry at the Larry Neal Awards, sponsored by the
D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities. Two of our students
were first place winners in the “Finding Gabriela” D.C.
Poetry Contest. And one of our 6th graders won the Kids Post Poetry
Contest, which is sponsored by the Washington Post.
This year our
youth performed their twelth original adaptation of theatrical
classics. The 2012 production, a series of three shorts from classic
Greek plays, was filmed by professional movie director Tom Mallan
and premiered at Busboys and Poets. In prior years, students have
produced their own original versions of George Bernard Shaw's "Pygmalion,"
Thornton Wilder's "Our Town," Christopher Marlowe's “Doctor
Faustus,” and Greek classics “Antigone,” “Medea,”
“Oedipus Rex,” “The Frogs,” “Lysistrata,”
“The Persians,” “Alcestis,” and "The
our 2012 short movies "Alcestis," "Antigone,"
and "The Persians" here.
We also published
the 35rd issue of hArtworks, the nation’s first inner-city
public middle school literary magazine. hArtworks is again
featured in the 2012 Poet’s Market as “an outstanding
example of what a literary journal can be (for anyone of any age).”
Our other two publications, Simon Says and Voice of
the Knight, have each been published five times.
In 2011, fifteen
DCCWW students won awards in city-wide writing competitions. Of
forty winners in the Parkmont Poetry Contest, ten were ours. In
fact, because of our work, Ballou had more winners than any other
high school and Hart had more winners than any other middle school.
Two of our students won Larry Neal Awards and three of our students
were finalists in the Junior League of Washington Teen Poetry Competition.
In 2010, eighteen
of our students won prizes in three city-wide writing competitions.
Twelve won the Parkmont Poetry Contest. Three won Larry Neal awards
for second place, third place, and honorable mention. And in the
Junior League of Washington Teen Poetry Competition, our students
won first place for 6th, 7th, and 8th grades.
DCCWW students won the Parkmont Poetry Contest in 2009. Hart English
teacher Christy Gill (second row, right) poses with some of the
winners: left to right: Marcus Barnes, Lamara Brooks, Kiana Murphy,
Marcus Johnson, Bernice Caldwell, Steven Reed, Renita Williams,
Monae Smith, DarVel Suggs, Devon Hudson, and Kirk Murphy
school year, Workshop students take field trips to see six plays
at the Arena Stage and one at the Shakespeare Theatre.
Since the Workshop’s
inception, over four hundred Hart and Ballou students have visited
the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum as part of the our “Teaching
Tolerance Through Literature” curriculum.
Over 250 of
our writers have performed their work in public at such venues as
the PEN/Faulkner Award celebration at the Folger Theater, the historic
Lincoln Theater, Karibu Books, Barnes and Noble Booksellers, Busboys
and Poets, Borders Books and Music, American University, George
Mason University, D.C. Superior Court, and Olsson’s Books
Our seven 2008 winners of the Parkmont Poetry Contest include,
left to right: Rian Hayes, Cherish Carroll, Yasmin Jones, Maryum
Abdullah, Anthony Torrence, and Tracey Harris.