The Writing Teachers Collective is a space for classroom teachers, mentors and teaching artists to build community outside of their schools or organizations and grow in their individual practices as writers and educators.


The first Writing Teachers Collective in 1999 focused on fostering the continued growth of teachers who write and teach poetry. From this space, about 30 people met and shared best practices including workshops and brainstorming which later sparked the idea for the city-wide poetry festival.


By coming together to share, vent and celebrate, as well as invest in our own writing & teaching practices, we can continue to build a better world for the young people of Chicago. Each session invites a guest artist, writer or educator to address new & relevant themes through creative writing and professional development exercises.

The Writing Teachers Collective (WTC) is a community organizing tool and an emergent strategy, growing at the speed of trust. WTC welcomes all educators and allies to Chicago’s youth and strives to be responsive to the needs & desires of the community that we build with one another.

As attendees & facilitators, we’ve had:

  • poets & writers who taught or want to teach
  • teachers who write or want to write
  • administrators who want to integrate creative writing into new and burdensome state standards
  • community arts organizers engaging youth

Workshops are hosted by YCA Teaching Artist and Education Associate, Robin Reid Drake and are led by different facilitators; check our calendar for further info

Join us for bimonthly sessions curated for EDUCATORS to come sharpen your tools on arts education, creative writing curriculum and much more. PD credit will soon be offered. Join us, or for further information contact This week’s workshop:

Saturday December 3, 2022, 11:00a–1:00p CDT:

Choose Your Own // Self Lead

Thinking about differentiation and the gravity of self-taught skills and methods. We wanted to think about what it means to equip participants with tools to direct themselves, to build the path themselves. Encouraging writers, of all levels of form, capacity, skill, and practice, into a fully autonomous writing zone. Choose your own, Lead YourSelf workshops are aimed to engage the potential energy stored in the craft, the imagination, and autonomy of poetry.

About your Workshop Facilitator:

C. Lofty Bolling

As a black, queer southerner and mixed media artist and writer, I explore notions of identity formations, (history) and the quantum imagination (futurisms), in short, I explore ontology; the way we become who we are. Finding inspiration in aspects of time and place, literary and social references as well as centering social and literary analytical frameworks. These frameworks include: afro postmodern poetics, afro surrealist aesthetics and afro pessimistic analysis. Through integrating unfiltered narratives, testimonies and stories of social conditions, with poetics, aesthetics and analysis, I hope to teach others to be aware of their own developed frameworks and explore what those expressions exhibit.

Analysis and its influence on my written practice looks like the incorporation of its poly-syncratic approach to creative and theoretical endeavors. In my work, this looks like showing no hierarchical importance to inspiration and creative ingredients but rather an endless intertwining of events and elements of such events that culminate into analytical frameworks that develop, most often subconsciously.

Previous Facilitators

blake nemec is a writer, teacher, sound recordist, and health care worker, who lives in Chicago. He is the author of Sharing Plastic, and work supporting abolition, decriminalization of unprotected bodies and musicalities of conversation. Hir work has appeared nationally and internationally in situations such as &NOW, Janus Head, Entitle; Undisciplined Environments, JUPITER 88, SpokenWeb, Captive Genders; Trans Embodiment and the Prison Industrial Complex, or the National Queer Arts Festival. He is a Lambda and SFAI fellow, has long worked as a sound recordist on independent films such as FREE CeCe and is available to facilitate somatics-based writing workshops.

Emerging from a decade-long history of community health clinic and grassroots harm reduction work in the San Francisco Bay Area, blake continues to organize within mutual aid groups and facilitate writing workshops in the Midwest. In the last two years, he has been giving writing workshops which use body based observations to extend techniques within traditional poetry or fiction writing. The trainings support writers’ current creative projects while also being generative. In parallel, the somatic practices in the series can resource artists on a neurological level.

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