Workshop Leader Community

NYWC Workshop Leader Retreat (2013)

The heart of NYWC is our talented and diverse pool of writers and social justice activists. These dedicated members of our community volunteer their time to lead weekly writing workshops, edit and publish NYWC workshop participants’ writing, and coordinate readings, book launches and other events that help bring unheard New Yorkers’ stories to new audiences.

Colleen Breslin joined NYWC in November 2012 as a workshop leader. Having no concrete ideas about what community of writers will best suit her, she looks forward to what will open up and to joining the Coalition’s movement to create space for new voices and new perspectives. When she is not acting like a lawyer in her gig with the National Labor Relations Board, Colleen is thinking about democracy in the workplace and watching the kids on her Clinton Hill block play sidewalk soccer. She hopes the ideas that come to her will find themselves in full written form on of these days.

Barbara Cassidy leads a NYWC workshop at the Brooklyn Public Library, Ridge Girls,which is aimed at getting Bay Ridge girls of diverse backgrounds together to write.  She also leads a NYWC kids workshop at the Queens Public Library.  A graduate of Brooklyn College’s MFA program, her play, Interim, was recently published in the anthology, New Downtown Now.

Victoria Cho was born in Virginia. Her fiction has appeared in Quarter After Eight, Word Riot and Mosaic Art & Literary Journal. Her collages were featured in NYWC’s leaders’ anthology, What if Writing is Dreaming Together? and in a show she also curated, “Stand Clear of the Closing Doors” at LaunchPad gallery in Brooklyn. Victoria has led NYWC workshops for women in transitional housing, teenagers, and senior citizens. See more of Victoria’s work at

Deborah Clearman led NYWC’s workshop for seniors at the 14th Street Y from 2003 to 2011 and now leads a workshop for women in jail at RMSC (aka Rosie’s) on Rikers Island.  Deborah served as NYWC’s Program Director for about 8 years, and in that time helped build NYWC from a small grassroots organization into one of the largest community based writing programs in the world.  She wrote and illustrated The Goose’s Tale (Whispering Coyote Press) for children. Her short stories for adults have been published by various literary journals, including Beloit Fiction JournalConnecticut Review, Ginger Hill, Oasis, and Quality Women’s Fiction.  She has also performed numerous public readings and story-tellings in New York City, at venues such as The Moth, The Pink Pony, Cornelia Street Café and others. Ms. Clearman has more than twelve years of experience teaching art and English as a foreign language, including a year in Todos Santos, Guatemala. Ms. Clearman has an MFA in painting from Indiana University and her paintings have appeared in galleries and exhibitions throughout the country. Her first novel, Todos Santos,  was published by Black Lawrence Press. Check for info.

What If Writing Is Dreaming Together?: Poetry & Prose from NYWC Workshop Leaders

Poetry & Prose from NYWC Workshop Leaders

T.K. Dalton leads a bi-lingual workshop with members of the Deaf community at Tanya Towers residence. His fiction and nonfiction appears in Red Rock Review, Radical Teacher, Rain Taxi, and The L Magazine; drafts of his novel, More Signal, More Noise, have earned him residencies at the Montana Artists Refuge and the Vermont Studio Center. He holds an MFA in Fiction from the University of Oregon and is completing the ASL-English Interpreting program at Union County College. When not camped at his writing desk or frolicking in the Deaf community, Tim teaches composition at LaGuardia Community College.

Ben Dolnick leads a youth workshop at the Brownsville Justice Community Center. He lives in Fort Greene with his wife and dog, and is the author of three novels and counting.

Susan Fedynak is a native New Yorker excited to join NYWC in bringing free writing workshops to her hometown. She received a BFA in Creative Writing from Emerson College, where she was an Honors Trustee Scholar. She is a National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts merit award recipient. She is also the recipient of a World Learning scholarship, which sent her to South Africa to study arts and culture. Her work has appeared in Stork, Blood, and Thunder, and the speculative fiction anthology A Field Guide to Surreal Botany, published by Two Cranes Press. She lives in Queens with her music producer husband and their imaginary puppy named Tofu.

Mary Feinberg taught language arts and drama in East Harlem during an exciting and innovative period in public education when workshops were taught by people like Peter Elbow, whose focus on writing as a step in the development of language skills was instrumental in helping students to become better writers as well as readers. She conducts three workshops at the New York Presbyterian Hospital for adults and adolescents.

Angela Lockhart is a writing workshop leader with life-long experience writing as a poet and playwright who also sings and directs plays.  Inspiring others to express themselves creatively, Angela has worked individually and collaboratively with other artists to create performances that include theatre, dance, poetry/spoken word and song. Angela’s Work as a playwright has been noted in the New York Times, Glamour Magazine and the book Mega Trends for Women.  Two of her poems can be found in From The Web, an anthology of previously unpublished female political poets.

In the early 1990’s Angela founded Living Lessons Inc. a non-profit Educational Theatre company teaching community members to be actor-teachers.  Angela and the company created performances that shared personal experience regarding AIDS, domestic violence and addictions.  In the summer of 2010 Angela worked with early childhood educators in North Carolina to create a multi-media performance that included song and spoken word to lobby and educate policy advisors. The summer of 2011 will be Angela’s third year leading a week-long creative writing workshop at the World Fellowship Center in Conway New Hampshire.  She is currently leading a NY Writers Coalition workshop at Stepping Stone, a transitional housing facility operated by Institute for Community Living in downtown Brooklyn.

Derek Loosvelt has led an NYWC workshop at the Queensboro Correctional Facility in Long Island City, New York. He is a graduate of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and the MFA program at the New School, where he received the New School Chapbook Award for “Michigan Left.” In 2008 he was named a One World Scholar by the Pan-African Literary Forum in Accra, Ghana. His writing has appeared in various magazines and journals. He lives in Brooklyn.

John Maney is originally from St. Paul, Minnesota, where he attended Macalester College, majoring in Religious Studies, and Sociology. In 1995 John moved to New York to pursue writing. While in New York he has attended poetry workshops at the Frederick Douglas Creative Arts Center, as well as through Cave Canum. John is a member of the New York Writers Coalition, and The Writer’s Room. He has published in the anthology HEAL, by Clique Calm Books; the anthology Testimony, by Free Spirit Press; and most recently in Art’s Buoyant Felicity, by Evolutionary Girls. He’s also had poetry appear in Sufi Magazine, and has a chapbook entitled Nkatie Wonu, by Broken Rose Publications. John has been featured in readings at several venues throughout New York City and State. Under the auspices of the New York Writers Coalition John conducts creative writing workshops for formally incarcerated men and women at the Fortune Society, in Queens, New York.

Matt Matros is a nine-year resident of Brooklyn, and a graduate of the MFA program at Sarah Lawrence College. His non-fiction has appeared in The Washington Post and on, while his fiction has appeared in Spectrum and in his high school literary magazine. Matt is the author of the instructional memoir The Making of a Poker Player, and he is desperately trying to finish his first novel.

NYWC Workshop Leaders celebrate the launch of What If Writing Is Dreaming Together?

NYWC Workshop Leaders celebrate the launch of What If Writing Is Dreaming Together?

Melody Nixon is New Zealand-born writer living in New York City. She is excited to join NYWC to bring free workshops to migrants to the U.S. like herself. She has taught an Introduction to Political Writing class to undergrads at Columbia University, and Writing and Dance workshops to elementary school kids in Harlem. Her own work takes the form of lyrical short prose, and investigates colonialism, place, and identity. Melody is the Interviews Editor for The Common Online,  and a Founding Editor of Apogee, a literary journal dedicated to work by writers of color and work that explores issues of identity, race and writing from the margins.

Melissa Petro is a freelance writer and instructor for Gotham Writers Workshop and Red Umbrella Project, a nonprofit organization that amplifies the voices of individuals with experience in the sex trades, and is the editor of PROS(E), a literary journal for current, former and transitioning sex workers. She has written for SalonDaily BeastHuffington PostJezebelxoJaneRumpusPenthouse,Poets and Writers and elsewhere.

Elena Schwolsky is a lifelong writer and social activist who joined NYWC in 2014.  She is currently co-leading, with Maritza Arrastia,  “Cosechando Cuentos.” a Spanish language workshop for immigrant women who are members of worker-owned cooperatives in her neighborhood of Sunset Park, Brooklyn.  Elena’s writing is informed by more than 30 years of work as a nurse and community health educator including 10 years spent as a pediatric AIDS nurse at the height of the epidemic. Elena currently works as a consultant and trainer for a variety of community health education projects in New York City and has trained peer educators in Cuba and Tanzania. Her essays and stories have appeared in the American Journal of Nursing, The Veteran, and the anthology Storied Dishes:  What Our Recipes Say About Who We Are, and she is at work on a memoir exploring the intersection of her personal and professional experience in the AIDS epidemic.

Avra Wing leads a workshop at The Center for Independence of the Disabled in Manhattan (CIDNY). Her novel, Angie, I Says, was made into the film Angie starring Geena Davis and James Gandolfini. Her poetry collection, Recurring Dream, was the winner of the 2011 Pecan Grove Press poetry chapbook competition. Avra’s poems have appeared in Hanging Loose, Michigan Quarterly Review, Apple Valley Review, New Madrid and Tattoo Highway, among other places. Her memoir, Doorway on the Mountain, is available at Avra has also published essays in The New York Times. She is an adjunct professor of English at Kingsborough Community College.