What is Rail Writers?
All aboard! Rail Writers takes participants on a journey of writing and exploration. In groups of 10-15, you’ll hop on the Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) light rail and travel to unique neighborhoods, museums and other exciting destinations. Guided by a teaching artist, you’ll explore your surroundings and record your experiences and impressions on the page. Finally, you’ll share some of what you’ve created with your friends and passersby before riding the DART back to where your trip began. Rail Writers is an active, immersive trek into the city and through your imagination. As a group, you’ll navigate public transportation and the urban environment, explore and create culture, and get a chance to make your voice heard by sharing your story.
In 2016, The Writer’s Garret piloted a new program called Rail Writers, which aimed to take the youth of Dallas on a journey of reading, writing, and exploration. By diving into the already culturally rich environment of the city, the program asks participants to examine their contribution to the performance of the city: how are they represented? Where do they feel like they belong? Are there limits on where they can go in their embodied travels and in their imaginations? Do those boundaries actually exist at all?
Now, Rail Writers has completed three years of unique, engaging summer programming for youth in the underserved communities of Dallas. Individuals from underserved communities throughout the city travel via the Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) to unique neighborhoods, museums, and other iconic locations. Using prompts that tie writers to these specific sites and their experiences at them, participants are guided through creating original poems and essays, which they then share in “impromptu” performances at various locations along the rails.
In 2018, Rail Writers has embarked on 20 rides with more than 200 participants, visiting sites of cultural significance within the city, all within a 10-minute walk from a DART train station.