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Spotlight On: Deidre Gantt

An exclusive article about W7AC poet Deidre Gantt

I’m supposed to write a short article to introduce myself to all of you visitors to the Ward 7 Arts Collaborative website. For almost a year, I have written articles like this for about half a dozen Collaborative artists. Those seem so much easier to write; every time I sit down to tell my own story, it threatens to balloon into a memoir.

So first, the facts. I was born and raised in the Deanwood-Fairmount Heights area. I learned to read by the time I was three years old, and I started writing creatively very early in my life. I was educated in the DC public school system until 1993, when I graduated from Dunbar and moved to Los Angeles to attend the University of Southern California. After USC, I went to Atlanta, where I worked as a writer, an editor, a secretary, a waitress, a bartender, a sales clerk, and a data entry operator. I wrote a lot of poems and experimented with a few stories and screenplays, but I didn’t take any of them seriously until I moved to Boston in 2001 to study creative writing at Emerson College.

In 2003, I came back to the DC area for good, and I worked as a desktop publisher before opening my own business, Phenom Community Media, in 2004. That spring, I finished my thesis and officially graduated from Emerson. That summer, I did my first year at Cave Canem Poetry Workshop and Retreat, which led to my first publication in a recognized literary journal. In 2005, I began teaching English at Prince George’s Community College I also started teaching community writing workshops for children, teenagers, and senior citizens in Ward 7. Through those activities, I hooked up with the Ward 7 Arts Collaborative. In 2006, I won a Young Artists grant from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities to support Fresh Ideas, a poster and creative writing contest I created in 2004 to encourage students in far Northeast to pursue socially conscious arts.

Today, I still teach at PGCC, and I just became the faculty advisor for Reflections, the student literary magazine. I did my second of three years at Cave Canem last summer. Locally, I have performed at the Honfleur Gallery, Macy’s in Prince George’s Plaza, the Folger Theatre, the Pratt Free Library, and during several Arts Collaborative events. In 2007, I rejoined my childhood church, Contee AME Zion I teach Sunday School and help run the multimedia ministry, and I also provide communications support to an affiliated health initiative, the People Before Profit Community Healthcare Project

Look for “Anatomy Remix: Tapping the Cactus” under my blogs at

Upcoming Appearances:

February 5, 2008 – Great Streets Conversations with Don Murray (Panelist). McKinley Technical High School. 12 noon. Sponsored by the Humanities Council of Washington, DC.

February 21, 2008 – “Flowin by the River” spoken word/karaoke night (Co-host). Marvin Gaye Park/Riverside Center. 7 pm. Sponsored by Ward 7 Arts Collaborative.

February 28, 2008 – Cave Canem poets at UDC. University of the District of Columbia, Building 41 A- 03. 7 pm. Sponsored by UDC.