Rail Writers

Keeping the city on track

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.
Rail Writer’s 2019
14 Rides
300 Writers
8 Neighborhoods
8 Partner Venues  

Special thanks to:
Texas Commission on the Arts
City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs
Phyllis Glazer Foundation
Dallas Area Rapid Transit
MB & Edna Zale Foundation
Heritage Foundation
The Dallas Poetry Slam
Big Thought
Dallas City of Learning

What is Rail Writers?

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.

Show Your Support

Your generosity gives Rail Writers the power to travel farther than ever before. Empower us to make this unique program even better.


The Writer’s Garret launched Rail Writers in Spring 2016 to help underserved urban youth find themselves through reading, writing, and exploring communities while riding the rails to notable landmarks in Dallas. Led by a small group of instructors, students from Wesley Rankin took a journey aboard the Trinity Railway Express (TRE) to explore the intersection of creative writing with visual art through an intensive zine camp. Since that summer, the program has picked up steam to take young writers even farther.

In 2017, Rail Writers began its partnership with Dallas Poetry Slam to expand its outreach to whole families, adult writers, veterans, and LGBTQ+ youth, partnering with a host of new organizations and venturing out to eye-opening new locations like the Latino Cultural Center, Dallas Museum of Art, Dealey Plaza, the Nasher Sculpture Center, and more.

In 2018, Rail Writers has grown bigger than ever before. With twelve instructors and eleven partner venues on board, we’ve taken more than two hundred underserved youth out on twenty rides, venturing into new neighborhoods and making new discoveries. We’ve also created new opportunities for adult writers to connect with the rich history of Dallas through the premiere of our historical tour by train, Deep Ellum Blues.

Recent partners include:

  • Central Market
  • Dallas Love Field Airport
  • The Dallas Museum of Art
  • Dealey Plaza
  • Deep Vellum Books
  • Fair Park
  • Klyde Warren Park
  • The Latino Cultural Center
  • The Nasher Sculpture Center
  • The South Dallas Cultural Center
  • The Texas Hall of State
  • The Wild Detectives
  • Texas Discovery Gardens
  • African-American Museum

If you would like your business or organization to partner with Rail Writers as a destination or reading venue, email Michael Clay at [email protected]

Rail Writer’s 2018
204 young writers.
11 partner venues.
3 neighborhoods.
20 rides.
1 amazing summer of Rail Writers.

This is Rail Writers 2018. This is The Writer’s Garret.

Rail Writers 2016 and 2017:

Show Your Support

Your generosity gives Rail Writers the power to travel farther than ever before. Empower us to make this unique program even better.

Special thanks to our sponsors: