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Derrick Weston Brown

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Derrick Weston Brown holds an MFA in creative writing, from American University. He has studied poetry under Dr. Tony Medina at Howard University and Cornelius Eady at American University. He is a graduate of the Cave Canem Summer workshop for black poets and the VONA summer workshop. His work has appeared in such literary journals as Warpland, Mythium, Ginsoko, DrumVoices, The Columbia Poetry Review, and the online journals Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Howard University’s Amistad, LocusPoint, and MiPOesias. He works as a bookseller and book buyer for a wonderful bookstore which is operated by the nonprofit Teaching for Change, and is located within the restaurant, bar, coffee shop and performance space known as Busboys and Poets.

As the first Poet-In-Residence of Busboys and Poets, he is the founder and curator of The Nine on the Ninth, a five-year-old monthly poetry series, and helps coordinate the poetry programming at the 14th & V street location. He teaches poetry and creative writing to an amazing crew of seventh and eighth graders at Hart Middle school in Southeast Washington, DC, as part of the DC Creative Writing Workshop. He is a native of Charlotte, North Carolina, and resides in Mount Rainier, Maryland.

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Wisdom Teeth
Author: Derrick Weston Brown 
Foreword by Simone Jacobson

Publisher: PM Press / Busboys and Poets
ISBN: 978-1-60486-417-5
Published April 2011
Format: Paperback
Size: 7.5 by 5.5
Page count: 136 Pages
Subjects: Poetry, African American


To consider Wisdom Teeth is to acknowledge inevitable movement, shift, and sometimes pain. There’s change hidden just below the surface and, like it or not, once it breaks, everything has to make room. So goes the aptly titled debut poetry collection from poet and educator Derrick Weston Brown. Wisdom Teeth reveals the ongoing internal and external reconstruction of a poet's life and world, as told through a litany of forms and myriad of voices, some the poet’s own.

Wisdom Teeth is a questioning work, a redefining of personal relationships, masculinity, race, and history. It’s a readjustment of bite, humor, and perspective as Brown channels hip-hop, Toni Morrison, and Snagglepuss to make way for the shudder and eruption of wisdom.


"This brilliant first effort is akin to a mixtape, filled with nostalgic hip-hop references—MF Doom, A Tribe Called Quest, and J Dilla, among others—a love letter from a grown man still much enamored of the youth culture today. Found here are playful experiments with the eintou, bop, and brownku, African American forms seldom approached with such mastery."  —Simone Jacobson, managing editor for Words. Beats. Life: The Global Journal of Hip-Hop Culture

“We need more songs like this young man’s right here. Truth cuts its way beneath the unspoken like new teeth on their way to light.  Son of Langston, come on through.” —Ruth Forman, author of Prayers Like Shoes

"Derrick Weston Brown ventures into the canon to echo the voices of Morrison’s Sweet Home Men, then bends his ear to the streets of DC to render the shouts and whispers of corner brawls and slapped down dominoes—all the while balancing the bridge between Ellington and the sacred tribes of hip-hop." —Tyehimba Jess, author of Leadbelly

"Full of wit and whimsy, Wisdom Teeth postulates a poetics of heart-whole appreciation and honesty—for love and life, for family and friends, for literature and history, for pop culture and the poet's ever-cognizant powers of observation." —Tony Medina, author of My Old Man Was always on the Lam

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wisdom teethHoCoPoLitSo's writer-in-residence Derrick Weston Brown seeks to inspire the poet within us all
by L'Oreal Thompson
The Baltimore Sun
March 20th, 2013

It is only fitting that Derrick Weston Brown begins his presentation at local high schools with an original poem beckoning “all poets and lovers of the word.”

“Poetry is for everybody,” Brown, 36, tells the students at Mt. Hebron High School in Ellicott City. “Everyone is born a poet, but society takes that away.”

As the writer-in-residence for the Howard County Poetry and Literature Society (HoCoPoLitSo), Brown’s goal is to nurture young poets in the area. During his recent visit to Mt. Hebron, the Charlotte, N.C., native read some of his poetry, then encouraged students to interpret the work.


wisdom teethThe Poet Bears Witness: A Creative Session with Derrick Weston Brown
by Courtney McSwain
November 14th, 2012

Recently, Brown added author to his resume, with the release of his first published poetry collection Wisdom Teeth, on Busboys and Poets Press, an imprint of PM Press, last year. His collection, which Brown describes as an exploration of change and growth, covers issues of race, masculinity and relationships in unexpected, sometimes harrowing ways. At its most intense, Wisdom Teeth displays Brown’s ability to place himself within the most difficult of emotional circumstances in order to reflect the voice of those characters whom he tries to understand. Those who know Brown best describes him as an observer and witness bearer.


wisdom teethWisdom Teeth: A review
By Kaitie O'Hare
Split this Rock
July 15th, 2011

After reading Derrick Weston Brown’s Wisdom Teeth, it’s hard to believe this is his first collection of poems. As Busboys and Poet’s first Poet-In-Residence, Brown approaches his poetry with an incredible confidence, which often touches on tense topics of history and culture.

The collection begins with a clever poem, "Hourglass Flow", about the struggle of writing and being stuck inside one’s own head. Brown ricochets blame around from comfort and the city, to competition. However, my favorite blame is “the voice that wants to sound like a poet, but not sound // like a poet wanting to sound like a poet,” which all poets have feared at one point in their lives. This is just one way that Brown says what people think, but hardly say themselves.

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wisdom teethWisdom Teeth: A review
April 21, 2011

That corporate CEOs, whose businesses stayed afloat with bailout money from the federal government, went on with business as usual is the sign of lessons not learned.  “Gust”, in its own way, warns against that kind of ignorance that keeps us “clueless to the coming stretch/ and yawn of ruin.”

Wisdom Teeth is right on time. In this collection, as one writer puts it, “Truth cuts its way beneath the unspoken like new teeth on their way to light.” I couldn’t agree more, grateful for their arrival.

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