Press Release: 826DC Students to Write Poetry at the White House

Posted in News Story

May 10, 2011

CONTACT: Nell Callahan, 202-464-6913

WEDNESDAY: 826DC Students to Write Poetry at the White House

Four month-long poetry workshop culminates with a White House reading

(Washington, D.C.)— Tomorrow, 826DC students will participate in a poetry workshop and reading at the White House hosted by President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. The students will be joined by Elizabeth Alexander, Billy Collins, Common, Rita Dove, Kenneth Goldsmith, Alison Knowles, Aimee Mann, and Jill Scott. Tomorrow’s workshop is the culmination of a four month-long poetry writing program for DC high school students made possible through a partnership between the President’s Committee for Arts and Humanities and 826DC. On April 25, Education Secretary Arne Duncan joined students for a poetry workshop and reading at the Library of Congress.

“Arts education is essential, and the Obama Administration’s recognition and support of the arts will help ensure that more students get the opportunity to explore their creativity and express themselves,” said Gerald Richards, CEO of 826 National, who will also participate in the event.

“Poetry is one of the most powerful forms of expression, and to be able to write poetry in the White House with the nation’s leading poets and songwriters will be a truly inspiring experience for 826 students,” said Joe Callahan, Executive Director of 826DC.

The 826DC students participating in the White House workshop attend Duke Ellington, Ballou, Wilson and Bell High Schools in DC. Tomorrow, the DC high school students will also be joined by two students from 826 Chicago.

The core of 826 is to connect students with professional writers. Over the course of the four month-long program, the 15 DC high school students worked shoulder-to-shoulder with leading poets, including Professors Kyle Dargan from American University, Sally Keith from George Mason, and Carolyn Forché from Georgetown, and DC-based poets Holly Bass, Reginald Dwayne Betts, Kenneth Carroll, Reuben Jackson, Simone Jacobson, Katy Richey and Silvana Straw. The students’ work will be published in an anthology in the coming months, and sold at 826DC’s writing center in Columbia Heights. Proceeds from the sale of the anthology will go to support 826DC’s free programs for students aged 6 to 18.

826DC, the newest chapter in 826 National network of nonprofit writing centers, is dedicated to supporting students ages 6-18 with their creative and expository writing skills, and to helping teachers inspire their students to write. The organization’s services are structured around the understanding that great leaps in learning can happen with one-on-one attention and that strong writing skills are fundamental to future success. With this in mind, 826DC provides drop-in tutoring, field trips, after-school tutoring, help for English language learners, and assistance with student publications all free of charge. To find out more about the 826DC, visit To find out more about 826 National, visit

Joe Callahan
Executive Director
3233 14th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20010
P: 202-525-1057

826DC is a nonprofit dedicated to supporting students ages 6 through 18 with their creative and expository writing skills, and to helping teachers inspire their students to write. The video “Books and Early Modern Culture: Georgetown at the Folger Shakespeare Library” and more information about the collaboration is now available at the following website: