Dave Johnson is a poet, playwright, and actor. His plays, Baptized to the Bone and Sister, Cousin, Aunt have been staged throughout the US and Italy. Dave was appointed the inaugural Poet-in-Residence at the Department of Probation of New York City in 2012.
Dave’s work at the NYC Department of Probation has transformed a waiting room into a creative space. Participants are given prompts and themes, then compose and perform poems. Select poems are published in a literary journal Dave initiated, Free Verse. Participation in Dave’s writing program increases the likelihood that a probation client will successfully complete their probation; the program is now being replicated by other probation centers.
“It’s so much more than just poetry. It’s a person investing their time and effort to make us feel like a part of the community again,” says a participant. Dave adds, “When clients proudly read out loud something they’ve written and published or see their poem displayed on a large-screen television in the waiting room, they gain a sense of personal satisfaction and achievement. The idea of Free Verse is to create a space in a crucial place where your voice is heard and your written word lives on.”
Dave has led poetry workshops at Poets House, the New York Public Library, and Yale University. He is on the MFA Faculty at The New School.
Photo Credit: James Keivom