The D.C. Creative Writing Workshop, based in the Congress Heights neighborhood of Southeast D.C., unites parents, teachers and students to create a literary renaissance in this often ignored part of the city.
Since 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.
While 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 these schools and nearby charter schools have attended readings, plays and other literary events, won hundreds of writing awards, and enjoyed a wealth of new experiences not otherwise available to young people in Ward 8.
Nancy Schwalb, Executive Director and Writer-in-Residence
Nancy Schwalb is the founder and Executive Director of the D.C. Creative Writing Workshop. She has an MFA in creative writing from George Mason University and has taught creative writing at Hart Middle School since 1995. Her work has been published in the GW Review, the Washington City Paper, Vanity Fair, Barragua, Argus, and the English Journal. She has served as a teaching fellow for the KennedyCenter, is a six-time Larry Neal Award winner, won the 2002 Shayne Nonprofit Leadership Award, and was honored as a Local Hero by the Bank of America Foundation in 2011. Schwalb was a founding member of D.C. WritersCorps, and also a co-founder of the D.C. Youth Poetry Slam League. She has four years of experience doing poetry therapy with children, adolescents, and adults at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital. Additionally, she has completed specialist training in Substance Abuse Prevention (ADASA, Gaston Neal), Mental Health (Biloti Lawrence), Conflict Resolution (United Way), and Violence and Substance Abuse Reduction (Department of Justice).
Patrick Washington, Writer-in-Residence
Patrick Washington (aka Black Picasso) is regarded by many as one of the country’s premier performance poets. Patrick represents classic poetry for the hip-hop generation. Forged in Washington D.C.’s now-legendary U Street Poetry Scene, Patrick is a master of genre fusion. A Def Poetry Slam Champion, Patrick became a semi-regular performer on HBO Presents Russell Simmons Def Poetry. He is half of the duo POEM-CEES, a musical group that has four full length albums and has been featured in dozens of compilations. He has conducted interactive workshops for The American Poetry Museum and has been a teaching artist for Words Beats & Life. Patrick has also led workshops for: Young Audiences of Maryland, America Scores, Youthbuild, and the Gateway Community Development Corporation.
Ashley Stevenson, Writer-in-Residence
Ashley Stevenson has participated in the Workshop every year since she was a sixth grader at Hart Middle School, through graduation at Ballou Senior High, and after graduation. Ashley won many writing awards and, as a longtime Workshop participant and leader, has a great deal of authority with the students.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
John Cotman, Chair
Toi Derricotte, Award-winning poet and professor at the University of Pittsburgh
Rita Dove, Former Poet Laureate of the United States and professor at the University of Virginia
Cornelius Eady, Finalist for the National Book Award in Poetry
Nikki Giovanni, Grammy-nominated poet and professor at Virginia Tech University
Bomani Armah, best known for his single “Read a Book”
Dwayne Betts, author of A Question of Freedom: A Memoir of Learning, Survival, and Coming of Age in Prison and other books; in 2021, Dwayne won a prestigious MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Award
Derrick Weston Brown, author of Wisdom Teeth
Abbey Chung, author of Alien Virus Love Disaster: Stories
Kerry Danner-McDonald, professor at Georgetown University
Andrew Evans, author of The Black Penguin and numerous travel books
Jamila Felton, poet and mixed media artist
Andy Fogle, author of The Last Apprenticeship and several other books of poetry
Alan King, author of Point Blank
Ruby McCann, known for both her poetry and plays
Marla Melito, author of The Doppler Effect and professor at Skidmore College
Venus Thrash, author of The Fateful Apple and co-editor of Beltway Poetry Quarterly
FORMER PLAY & MOVIE DIRECTORS