The Poetry Teaching Artist Training Project
The Poetry Teaching Artist Training Project (#PoetryTAT) connects novice teaching artists with professional development training and resources from accomplished and well-known poetry teaching artists.
Because of the Coronavirus pandemic, PoetryTAT 2020 is slightly different than previous years. Instead of in-person workshops, trainings, and events, our select master teaching artists will share their wisdom through essays and videos. Participation, by its nature being all online this year, is now open to those outside of the Washington, DC area as well. Check back here in August 2020 for the release of the PoetryTAT 2020 Workbook featuring essays and videos explaining their poetry pedagogy by Drew Anderson, Holly Bass, Nate Marshall, Natalia Molebatsi, and Jamila Woods.
Meet the Master Teachers
Drew Anderson is a former science teacher turned teaching artist, having developed his own curriculum called “Spoof School” which uses the art of parody songwriting to get students of all ages more connected to (and thus more invested in) their learning. Drew’s proud accomplishments include producing the award-winning two-man show From Gumbo to Mumbo along with his partner-in-rhyme Dwayne B! the Crochet Kingpin, helping to spread the Hip Hop Shakespeare movement along with his comrades in the Baltimore-based Fools and Madmen collective, and founding and co-hosting Spit Dat, the longest-running open mic in the District of Columbia. http://www.brokeballer.com/
Holly Bass is a multidisciplinary performance and visual artist, writer and director. A Cave Canem poetry fellow (1997-1999), she has published poems in numerous journals and anthologies. As an arts journalist early in her career, she was the first to put the term “hip hop theater” into print in American Theatre magazine. She is a 2019 Red Bull Detroit artist-in-residence, a 2019 Dance/USA Artist Fellow and a 2019-2020 Smithsonian Artist Research Fellow. A gifted and dedicated teaching artist, for four years she directed a year-round creative writing and performance program for adjudicated youth in DC’s Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services as well as facilitating workshops nationally and internationally. She is currently the national director for Turnaround Arts at the Kennedy Center, a program which uses the arts strategically to transform schools facing severe inequities. http://www.hollybass.com/
Nate Marshall is an award-winning writer, rapper, educator, and editor from the South Side of Chicago. He is the author and editor of numerous works including FINNA, Wild Hundreds, The BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop, and the audio drama Bruh Rabbit & The Fantastic Telling of Remington Ellis Esq. He is an assistant professor of English at Colorado College. He has bars. https://www.nate-marshall.com/
Natalia Molebatsi is an internationally known South African writer, poet, and singer. In addition to being a performance poet and author, she experiments with jazz and hip hop. Her CDs, Come as you are: Poems for Four Strings and Natalia Molebatsi & The Soul Making are a fusion of poetry and a variety of music styles. She has published Sardo Dance through Ge’ko and edited We Are: A Poetry Anthology through Penguin books. Her work is anthologised in among other books, Letter to South Africa: Poets Calling the State to Order, Happiness the Delight-Tree: An Anthology of Contemporary International Poetry, New Coin, and the Anthology of World Poetry (2010) among others. Her academic writing appears in Scrutiny2, Rhodes Journalism Review and Muziki. Natalia has performed poetry and facilitated creative writing workshops at high schools, universities and festivals in Nigeria, Senegal, Kenya, Zimbabwe, England, Italy, Azerbaijan, Argentina, Palestine, Germany and the USA, among other countries. https://www.nataliamolebatsi.com/
Called “a modern-day Renaissance woman” by the Chicago Sun-Times, Jamila Woods is a poet, singer, and teaching artist. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee, and her poetry has been published by MUZZLE, Third World Press, and Poetry magazine. She was the associate artistic director of Young Chicago Authors and a founding member of its Teaching Artist Corps. Woods is a member of Dark Noise, a collective of poets & educators of color. In 2015, she was awarded a Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation. Woods lives in Chicago.
The Poetry Teaching Artist Training Project provides in-depth professional development classes for novice and aspiring poetry teaching artists in Washington, DC. A small cohort of promising artists–through a series of speakers, classes, activities, assignments, fieldwork, and mentoring–will enhance their teaching, classroom management, and curriculum development skills, and thereby their long-term employability.
With proper training and guidance from mentors, poets can find profitable work inspiring and teaching students across the District and the world. This project consists of twice-monthly meetings, an induction and graduation ceremony, fieldwork training with mentors in schools, and two performances.
In addition to the wisdom and training imparted by guest lecturers and facilitators, participants receive a travel stipend to cover transportation costs, as well as curricula and reading materials, and personal one-on-one mentoring and guidance. Upon graduation, participants will receive a certificate of completion to bolster their professional credentials.
This project is partly funded by the DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities, an agency supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.
Jonathan B. Tucker, Project Director
Claudia Rojas, Project Manager
Claudia Rojas is a poeta and community advocate. She was born in El Salvador, raised in the Washington, DC area, and lives in Falls Church, VA. As educator, Claudia has six years’ experience working with children and young adults in academic, camp, and community settings. Claudia has taught Reading, Writing, and Creative Writing to varying grade levels. She was formerly Split This Rock’s Youth Programs Fellow. Additional professional experience includes freelance writing, consulting, and interning with the Millennial Action Project, FWD.us, Argot Magazine, and Stillhouse Press. https://claudiapoet.com
Tiana Spencer, Project Coordinator
Tiana Spencer is an artist from Washington, DC with many talents. A singer, poet, model, and craftswoman, Tiana has worked with the DC Youth Slam Team, Split This Rock, and was a student leader of ISpit at Lincoln University.
MEET THE MASTER TEACHERS 2019
Amin Dallal is a nationally touring performance poet and writing facilitator who looks to connect his Palestinian roots and American upbringing through art. He is a three-time member of the DC Beltway Poetry Slam team, a member of DC’s 2013 winning team at the Southern Fried Poetry Slam, and DC’s 2015 grand slam poetry champion. He was featured on TV One’s Verses and Flow, has read and paneled at AWP, and spoken at the University of Maryland’s TEDx conference on fearless ideas. Dallal has performed in over 50 cities and 5 countries and shared stages with artists such as Method Man, Redman, Pitbull, Biz Markie, Slick Rick, Sunni Patterson, Blaq Ice and Andrea Gibson.
International Poetry Slam Champion and former Young Audience’s National Artist of the Year, Gayle Danley, was a member of Young Audiences’ artist roster for over a decade. She has turned her pain and joy, courage and optimism into pages and pages of slam poetry that she shares onstage and in the classroom with children all over the country. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism from Howard University and a Master’s Degree in Communications from Syracuse University. Her work with children who are suffering loss has been featured in a TedEd talk, on CBS 60 Minutes, The Washington Post, The Baltimore Sun and the New York Times. http://gayledanleypoet.com
JONATHAN B. TUCKER
Jonathan B. Tucker (JBT) is a poet, educator, performer, photographer, and DJ. He has received numerous grants, awards, and artist fellowships from institutions such as the DC Commission on Arts and Humanities, and has performed and taught at universities, libraries, detention centers, and museums around the world. His poems have appeared in Howard University’s Amistad Journal alongside the late Amiri Baraka (Howard University, 2011), in Etan Thomas’s anthology Voices of the Future (Haymarket Books, 2012), Poets’ America (Hidden Clearing Books, 2014), and Beltway Poetry Quarterly (Beltway Poetry, 2016).
Pages Matam is an international artist & educator from Cameroon, Central Africa, currently residing in Washington D.C. He is the Director of Poetry Events for Busboys and Poets, a Callaloo Fellow, and Write Bloody published author of The Heart of a Comet (2014), winner of Best New Book 2014 from Beltway Poetry Quaterly and Teaching for Change bestseller. He is the cultural ambassador for the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA, D.C. Chapter) and a National poetry slam Champion, with passions in the field of education, violence and abuse trauma work, immigration reform and youth advocacy. He has been a featured artist, performer, and contributor in various publications and media appearances including the NAACP Youth Conference, Afropunk, The Guardian, Google Voices, Upworthy, Huffington, Okay Africa, Macy’s, The Pentagon, the Kennedy Center, the Apollo Theater, BET Lyric Cafe, TV One’s Verses & Flow (Season 4 & 5), The Smithsonian, and many more. He has performed across the world in Canada, Brazil, Costa Rica, France, Sweden, UAE. Pages is an art creator, teacher, and organizer by day, proud gummy bear elitist, bowtie enthusiast, professional hugger, anime fanatic and fried plantain connoisseur by night. www.pagesmatam.com
RAQUEL “RA” BROWN
Raquel Brown is an author, artist, mother, teacher, and student who has been performing for nearly 20 years. Her philosophy is that everything is poetry, and everyone has a story to tell.
Regie Cabico is a spoken word pioneer having won The Nuyorican Poets Cafe Grand Slam and later taking top prizes in three National Poetry Slams. His television credits include 2 seasons of HBO’s Def Poetry Jam, NPR’s Snap Judgement & MTV’s Free Your Mind. His work appears in over 30 anthologies including Aloud: Voices from the Nuyorican Poets Café, Spoken Word Revolution & The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry. Mr. Cabico received the 2006 Writers for Writers Award from Poets & Writers for his work teaching at-risk youth at Bellevue Hospital. As a theater artist, he received three New York Innovative Theater Award Nominations for his work in Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind with a win for Best Performance Art Production The Kenyon Review recently named Regie Cabico the “Lady Gaga of Poetry” and he has been listed in BUST magazine’s 100 Men We Love. He has shared the stage with Patti Smith, Allen Ginsberg and through Howard Zinn’s Portraits Project at NYU, has performed with Stanley Tucci, Jesse Eisenberg & Lupe Fiasco.
WHAT POETRY TEACHES US
The culminating event for the 2019 cohort of PoetryTAT participants was held on June 23, 2019 at Busboys and Poets in Anacostia, Washington, DC. In addition to receiving award certificates and kind words from the project organizers, each PoetryTAT participant performed a poem and spoke about what poetry and teaching poetry means to them. Below is the group shot of the 2019 class and project organizers.
Master Teachers 2018
International Poetry Slam Champion and former Young Audience’s National Artist of the Year, Gayle Danley, was a member of Young Audiences’ artist roster for over a decade. She has turned her pain and joy, courage and optimism into pages and pages of slam poetry that she shares onstage and in the classroom with children all over the country. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism from Howard University and a Master’s Degree in Communications from Syracuse University. Her work with children who are suffering loss has been featured in a TedEd talk, on CBS 60 Minutes, The Washington Post, The Baltimore Sun and the New York Times.
Safia Elhillo is the author of The January Children (University of Nebraska Press, 2017).Sudanese by way of Washington, DC, she received a BA from NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study and an MFA in poetry at the New School. Safia is a Pushcart Prize nominee, receiving a special mention for the 2016 Pushcart Prize, and recipient of the 2015 Brunel University African Poetry Prize and the 2016 Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets. She has received fellowships from Cave Canem, The Conversation, and Crescendo Literary and The Poetry Foundation’s Poetry Incubator.
13 of Nazareth
13 of Nazareth is a convergence of Hip-Hop culture, old school R&B/Soul music, scientific spirituality and a child-like love of language. Rhythms that are warm to the heart embedded with lyrics that are challenging to the ear often emerge from this intersection and have resulted in him being labeled a “poet’s poet.” His writing is elevated without being condescending as it invites seeing from his vantage point without dismissing that of others. 13 of Nazareth encourages each listener/reader to apply what is useful from his work while discarding what is not. The golden thread which runs throughout his hip-hop infused poetry is drawn from the looms of various spiritual traditions to weave a tapestry of creative works geared toward the personal and collective healing process.
Holly Bass is a multidisciplinary performance and visual artist, writer and director. Her work has been presented at spaces such as the Kennedy Center, the Smithsonian Museums, the Seattle Art Museum, Art Basel Miami Beach (Project Miami Fair) and the South African State Theatre. Her visual art work spans photography, installation, video and performance and can be found in the collections of the Corcoran Gallery of Art and the DC Art Bank, as well as private collections. A Cave Canem fellow, she has published poems in numerous journals and anthologies.
Cabico is a critically acclaimed performance poet who has won top prizes in the 1993, 1994 and 1997 at National Poetry Slams. His poetry appears in over 30 anthologies including Aloud: Voices from the Nuyorican Poets Café, Spoken Word Revolution and Slam. He was also featured in MTV’s “Free Your Mind” Spoken Word Tour. Regie is the recipient of three New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowships for Poetry and Multi-Disciplinary Performance. He is a regular performer at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe and the Bowery Poetry Club in New York City. He was artist-in-residence at New York University, and De Anza College.
Xabiso Vili is a writer, performer and poet obsessed with social development. He has performed his poetry around South Africa, including Cape Town, Johannesburg, Pretoria, Grahamstown and more. He came in the top six in the 2011 Lover + Another national poetry slam and came third in the 2013 poetry slam of the same national event after winning the regional finals. He has worked as an assistant teacher and run multiple workshops around poetry and improvisational comedy in Cape Town. He is currently staying in Pretoria and working with various organisations to further the reach and effect of poetry. In his spare time he enjoys battling silver-tongued dragons in the hopes of claiming one as his own.
Pages Matam is an international artist & educator from Cameroon, Central Africa, currently residing in Washington D.C. He is the Director of Poetry Events for Busboys and Poets, a Callaloo Fellow, and Write Bloody published author of The Heart of a Comet (2014), which won Best New Book 2014 from Beltway Poetry Quaterly and was a Teaching for Change bestseller. A national and 2x regional poetry slam champion, he has passions in the field of education, violence and abuse trauma work, immigration reform and youth advocacy. He has been a featured artist and performer on Upworthy, Huffington, Okay Africa, Macy’s, The Pentagon, the Kennedy Center, the Apollo Theater, BET Lyric Cafe, TV One’s Verses & Flow (Season 4 & 5), The Smithsonian Folklife Festival and the Smithsonian African Art Festival. He has performed across the world in Canada, Brazil, Costa Rica, France, Sweden, UAE. He is a proud gummy bear elitist, bowtie enthusiast, professional hugger and anime fanatic.