Announcing the 2022 D.C. Poet Project Winner: Dominic ‘Nerd’ McDonald

On Saturday, June 11, three impressive D.C. poet finalists entered the Shaw/Watha T Daniel Public Library for the culminating reading event in the 2022 DC Poet Project. Only one emerged the winner: Dominic ‘Nerd’ McDonald. 

Born and raised in various cities in Los Angeles, California, Dominic describes himself as a Black entrepreneur and spoken word artist. He describes his writing as expressing his views on growing up in the inner city between two households, Hip Hop music, being a social outcast, college experiences, and more. McDonald moved to the DC area six years ago and works in building management while hosting open mics and performing his poetry.

As the winner of the 2022 D.C. Poet Project, Dominic received a $1,000 book contract and Day Eight will now publish his first collection of poetry.

Poet Sarah Katz, who does book development for Day Eight, conducted the following email interview with 2022 Poet Project winner Dominic ‘Nerd’ McDonald.

Sarah Katz: Could you tell me a little bit about what will be in your book?

Dominic McDonald: My collection of poetry is a combination of life lessons and experiences in love, criticisms of social injustice of Black Americans, and witty puns & references to pop culture. I enjoy writing from my perspective but I also love to challenge myself to speak from the perspective of others because it invites a new way of thinking. I also enjoy creating what I think of as ‘motivational pieces’ because they can connect with generally anyone.

Dominic ‘Nerd’ McDonald

SK: Are there any writers or books that you consider formative influences on your work?

DM: I was heavily influenced by the Harlem Renaissance and enjoyed the works of Langston Hughes, Claude McCay, Sterling Brown, and Paul Lawrence Dunbar. I also pulled a lot of inspiration from my literary survey courses in college, including poems by T.S. Elliot, Shakespeare, and A.E Houseman. My favorite book of poems is “The Rose that Grew from Concrete” by Tupac Shakur, a world-famous Hip Hop artist that began his journey into writing as a poet. 

SK: Do you have a regular writing practice? How do you write your poetry?

DM: I usually write when I am inspired … I have been taking public transportation since I was in high school and would typically be inspired during my commutes from home to school, home to work, or to go into the city for an event. The inspiration would just come at any time. I find myself now being inspired by my poetry peers and psychologists that study human behavior. 

SK: Are there any writers, locally or nationally, that you look to as an example of what you’re trying to do as a poet?

DM: There is a poet that goes by the name of Brandon Alexander Williams (formerly known as “Real Talk”) who is also a fraternity brother. Looking at his career inspired me because in a sense I saw myself in him. I guess you have to see at least a glimpse of yourself in someone in order to be truly inspired by them. He was the first person that proclaimed post-pandemic that the DC Metro area was the best place to be a poet as there are vast opportunities to read your material to an engaged audience. I truly feel like he was onto something and that we are now experiencing is what’s been called the “DMV Renaissance.”

View information about previous DC Poet Project books by visiting our bookstore.

The 2022 DC Poet Project was supported by support from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities and made possible through partnerships with DC Public Library and the Anacostia Coordinating Council, and the participation of featured poets Ethelbert Miller, Maritza Rivera, Shelina Farmer, R.E.I.L., Luther Jett, Jeffrey Banks, Anne Becker, Jody Bolz, Lori Tsang, Pacyinz Lyfoung, Ishanee Chanda, Jenn Koiter, John Johnson, and Kevin Wiggins. The 2022 Poet Project was directed by Robert Bettmann with series curator Regie Cabico and hosts Stuart Anderson and Regie Cabico.