D.C. Creative Writing Workshop
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.
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 hundreds 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 the 2016
Parkmont Poetry Contest, 12 of the 40 winners were ours and ten
of the 20 winners in the middle school division were our Hart students.
Hart Middle School won more awards than any other competing school,
including Sidwell Friends, National Cathedral School, St. Alban’s,
and Gonzaga. In fact, ours were the only neighborhood public school
students to win. In the 2016 Larry Neal Awards, sponsored by the
D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities, all three of the finalists
in Youth Poetry were Workshop students from Hart; two of them tied
for first place. In the 2016 Junior League Youth Poetry Contest,
one of our students won the 6th grade citywide award and four other
children won Honorable Mentions in the 7th and 8th grade competitions.
In the 2016 Finding Gabriela DC Youth Bilingual Poetry Contest,
sponsored by the Gabriela Mistral Foundation, one of our students
won first place in teen poetry, one was third place in youth poetry,
and three others won honorable mentions.
This year our
youth created a documentary
about Writing Club, their fifteenth original play or film. 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
the D.C. Creative Writing Workshop films here.
We also published
the 44th issue of hArtworks, the nation’s first inner-city
public middle school literary magazine. hArtworks is again
featured in the 2016 Poet’s Market as “an outstanding
example of what a literary journal can be (for anyone of any age).”
In 2015, we
had 13 winners in the Parkmont Poetry Contest, including nine of
the 20 winners in the middle school division. All five finalists
for Larry Neal Awards in Youth Poetry were Workshop students from
Hart and our Executive Director was also a finalist in Adult Fiction.
In the 2015 Gabriela Mistral DC Youth Poetry Contest, nine of the
winners were from the Workshop. Six were Hart Middle School students,
two represented Ballou High School, and the last was a Ballou graduate
who is one of our Young Writers-in-Residence.
In 2014, we
had twenty-five finalists and five winners in the Parkmont Poetry
Contest. One of our students was a finalist in Youth Poetry at the
Larry Neal Awards, sponsored by the D.C. Commission on the Arts
and Humanities. And remarkably, in the Junior League Youth Poetry
Contest our children swept first place for 6th, 7th, and 8th grades
and also won five of the six honorable mentions in the middle school
In 2013, fifteen
DCCWW students won awards in city-wide writing competitions. Eight
of the winners in the Parkmont Poetry Contest were our students.
Remarkably, Hart Middle School had more winners than any other public,
charter, or middle school in the city. Three of our students were
finalists in Youth Poetry at the Larry Neal Awards, sponsored by
the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities. Four of our students
were winners in the “Finding Gabriela Mistral” Poetry
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.
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 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 500 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, Barnes and Noble Booksellers, Busboys and Poets,
American University and George Mason University.
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.