Poetry and storytelling are used in all cultures to teach, advise, demonstrate, and console. Griots, shamans, and healers have all used the evocative power of words and imagery. The recorded historical use of literature as a guide for living dates back at least to the Analects of Confucius of 500 BC. Eastern cultures, Greeks and the Egyptians, to name a few, all "prescribed" poetry. 

Livingwell Founder: Vanita Leatherwood

I believe that inside each of us there is a livingwell; our personal fount of resiliency.  It is the place where all our strengths are stored. It is where you will find your trust, your instincts, your smiles, your tears, your truth, your hope, your dreams and truest wishes.

But sometimes we have trouble getting there.

As a writer, survivor, and person eager to live within the verve of life, I know that where there is a capacity to feel there is opportunity for hope and change. My first steps toward myself (and my livingwell!) began with poetry. During my youth, my summers were spent in a small Florida town with my maternal great grandmother and great aunts. The moss hanging from the trees, the smell of the orange groves and the interactions of the people in community fascinated me. Evenings were spent lounging on the porch swing, writing in my diary. That experience was one of the many things that lead me to my work in Transformative Language Arts. 

I believe that poetry — creativity in general — marks the pathway to the livingwell. Poetry can record experience or beauty. Poetry is available to everyone as creator or participant, giving us an opportunity to learn, rebel and grow. It can uncover desire, need and inspire. The focus of writing for well being is self expression and growth.  Poetry, including the poetry of our life stories, can help us to reflect, reclaim, refuel and restart. All of these things are possible on a personal and social level. All of these ingredients working in unison make poetry political, a transformative art and a great tool towards action. 

I look forward to working with you!

Vanita Leatherwood, M.A., T.L.A.
Director, Livingwell Workshops


Promoting individual and community growth,
development, celebration, and transformation

Ms. Leatherwood has facilitated educational workshops for over 30 years. Venues include the Psychiatric Institute of Washington, Project Excel, PFLAG Columbia-Howard County, the Linkages to Learning Program, the Mental Health Association of Montgomery County, The Metropolitan Community Church of Washington, DC., Stepping Stones shelter, the Metropolitan Center for Assault Prevention, Unity Fellowship Church of Columbia, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Howard County,  numerous faith communities, group homes, schooland universities throughout the east coast.


Ms. Leatherwood served on the DC Safe and Drug Free Schools Advisory Council and The District of Columbia Public School system honored her for her educational initiatives. In 1986 she was honored by Mount Saint Mary’s College for her commitment to the education and motivation of students as founder of the Pathways: Attitudes and Aptitudes Program.


A poet and storyteller,  Ms. Leatherwood’s work can be found in her book Scratching the Itch and Other Natural Tendencies, as well as magazines and anthologies including Pegasus Motherwit, Rain and Thunder, The Sheet, A Starlight Night, and Trivia: Voices of Feminism. Ms. Leatherwood is an 2010 Astraea Lesbian Writers Fund Awardee in Poetry.