As a poet, author, and teaching artist, Phillip Shabazz has built an outstanding, extensive, and respected career. His work, which explores issues of community and culture in America, has been acclaimed by the media, critics, and audiences across North Carolina. His writing expresses diverse points of view, from poems about family and friends challenged by the complexities of life, to narratives that celebrate human possibilities.
Educators have called him, “One of the most inspiring individuals in the arts.” In an effort to get students excited about creative writing, Shabazz encourages them to be empowered by their own words and expression. Teachers have commented, “His methods succeed in showing students how to use poetry as a tool of learning and communication. His teaching style is engaging, fun, and direct.” The North Carolina Arts Council nominated him for the prestigious
William C. Friday Fellowship for human relations, praising his contributions to arts education—as a blend of imagination, experience, and upbeat sensitivity. As writer and teacher, Mr. Shabazz has created a series of ongoing creative writing workshops for many which he calls
Writing is my key to the mind, my door to the heart, my window to the soul.
It starts with poetry. I turn words into stories and lyrics without the distraction of television, newsprint, video, junk mail, etc. This always strikes me as magical. Writing fills me with a sense of accomplishment and integrity, and it proves to be a most agreeable vehicle for expressing artistic vision and possibility.
I am fascinated by the energy which creative writing gives me, and I've studied it avidly. As a student, I started to read and perform my poems as a creative way to fulfill my passions for artistic expression and for language. Now those passions have transformed me: I love to write. I love to create. I love to express art. I use these outlets as sources for meaningful communication with audiences and students.
I write from the inside out. I work as deliberate as I can, consciously employing poetic devices and techniques. My muse is my project manager. Much of my writing revolves around a fascination with real and imagined experiences and the way in which different pieces of information combine to become single coherent poems.
The concreteness of writing frees my imagination and it "sees" each poem or story into existence.
I am a lifelong reader of literature great and small. I learned how to write through reading. For me, writing by way of reading is what it's really all about.
I write poems and prose that challenges the reader to think about their inner life, and also their outer surroundings. In each piece, I write to understand what my life means in this world.
My body of work is an attempt to share that experience.
Mr. Shabazz became Duke University’s third Artist-in-Residence at the Mary Lou Williams Center for Black Culture. While at Duke, Shabazz was a founding member of Spirit-House, a community service organization. During his four-year residency, and with funding from the Siemens, and Mary Duke Biddle Foundation, Shabazz organized both a student art collective, and a twice monthly speaker’s series which presented local and nationally known poets and writers. The series also included lectures by well-known educators from area universities and scholars from the National Humanities Center. The residency sought to blend the role of the arts in relation to vital social issues.
Shabazz conducts creative writing workshops across his home state of North Carolina, and has taught at over 400 schools, conferences, and community centers. Currently he is a poet-in-the-schools of North Carolina and is affiliated with the NC Arts Council. Prior to this, he was on the artist roster with the Durham Arts Council. He has also been a visiting writer at many colleges and universities including UNC-Chapel Hill, Elon, Winthrop, Warren Wilson, and the Writers' Series at Appalachian State.
Shabazz currently lives in Chapel Hill, NC, and continues to reach approximately 12,000 people annually through his work as a poet, teacher, and writer at the grassroots and in the community at-large.
Contact Phillip Shabazz for more information at email@example.com