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Friday, May 24, 2024

Meet Dwayne Lawson-Brown

Southeast native Dwayne Lawson-Brown—the self-proclaimed crochet kingpin—intertwined his first yarn two decades ago and has not stopped threading since.

“I was led into crochet by a Black woman. It was 2004. I was dating a young lady who used a latch hook [the tool or latch needle used to draw loops through canvas to make rugs]. When she went to buy supplies, I bought a crochet kit and taught myself how to crochet,” Lawson-Brown said.


Although Lawson-Brown’s relationship with the lovely lady ended, he remained madly in love with his newfound craft. That enthusiastic yearning has spawned creative crochets like beanies, scarves, and cowls.

On his website, www.crochetkingpin.com, Lawson-Brown highlights custom-made gear like the Black Chenille or Wildflower Cowl—a hooded garment. He has also crafted “standard and infinity” scarves and a PurpYellRed Bucket Cap.

PurpYellRed Bucket Cap crocheted by Dwayne Lawson-Brown $25.

“I’ve had the pleasure of doing pieces for Wesley Snipes. He wanted to have a crochet pair of sunglasses for a commercial he was doing. Unfortunately, the commercial never came about but I did make the glasses. They took about one week to make.”

The iconic movie star’s sunglasses are not the only one-of-a-kind item that Lawson-Brown has fabricated. He has crocheted bowties, sweaters, dusters, and pants out of yarn in the past. The innovative artist is currently designing new pairs of pants to add to his inventory and crochetwork. Possibilities appear endless.

Ward 8 Washingtonian

The 40-year-old is the proud father of 15-year-old Darius Lawson-Brown, a bass and electric guitar-playing teenager, who attends Calvert Hall College High School in Baltimore. The elder Lawson-Brown “shares the joy” of co-parenting with Dana Bolden, a senior administrative assistant.

Even though Darius does not live with Lawson-Brown, they speak daily and see each other at least once a week. While Darius and his mom reside in Maryland, Lawson-Brown purchased a house in the same Ward 8 neighborhood in Southeast where he was raised—Congress Heights/Fort Stanton.

“I made a point to buy in the same neighborhood that I grew up in. I’m proud of where I’m from.”

Wildflower Cowl crocheted by Dwaye Lawson-Brown, $30.

The 2012 Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Emerging Leader honoree remembers living in the Stanton Hill Apartments, now known as Stanton Glenn, with four generations under one roof. The two-bedroom, one-den apartment was home to five people—Lawson-Brown, his mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and an uncle. He also recalls his mother crocheting a blanket for him at the age of three.

He attended Stanton Elementary School before graduating from Eliot-Hine Middle School and matriculating at Anacostia, Ballou, Eastern, and the Washington Mathematics Science Technology Public Charter High School (WMST PCHS) where he graduated in the spring of 2001.

Poet Extraordinaire

In addition to crocheting, Lawson-Brown spends a significant amount of time writing and poetry. He serves as the host of the city’s longest-running open mic series—Spit Dat DC—and the venue host captain for Busboys and Poets restaurant at 450 K Street, Northwest on the fourth Wednesday of each month.

“I write poetry from a deep-seated need to be understood. I’ve spent a healthy amount [of time] documenting my life as a Southeast DC native. I aim to bring people into my life, share experiences, and [eventually] have a greater understanding of humanity.”

DMV Renaissance Awards, founded in 2020 by Chantel “Grada Love” Walker, Crystal Lyn, and Kristina Grey, crowned Lawson-Brown as the 2021 Best Male DMV Poet.

“I know him from his poetry [and spoken word contests] in the area. They [Dwayne and other artists and hosts] are really good at bringing people together through poetry,” said Regie Cabico who is an Asian American and openly Queer poet, and former Nuyorican Poets Café Grand Slam Champion.

Author, Author

The literary art form of poetry has broadened Lawson-Brown’s horizons and taken the spoken word artist across the United States and even to Iceland in 2015.

He has also found the time to compose two books—One Color Kaleidoscope and twenty:21. In One Color Kaleidoscope, Lawson-Brown’s first bound collection of poetry, he answers the questions what color is love and how vibrant is joy? The book twenty:21 explores the complexities of aging. It was written three years ago.

A third book—Breaking The Blank—was published in November 2022 and is a dialogue between two African American poets conversing about such matters as love, parenting, gentrification, money, and literary life.

“Dwayne reached out to me saying that the publishing company wanted a book of poetry done and ‘could you do this with me’?” recalled Rebecca Bishophall who co-wrote Breaking The Blank. She is also a WMST PCHS graduate and friends with Lawson-Brown since they met in 1999.

Inspiration for the Next Generation

Poetry been used to communicate, create imagery, express emotion, and share ideas for countless centuries. Poets like Lawson-Brown and Bishophall want to motivate the next generation.

“As far as my vision of [Breaking The Blank], I hope it resonates with someone. I hope someone [particularly a youth] can be inspired. I would love for someone to approach me and say that they read my poem, and it made me want to write,” Bishophall said.

Lawson-Brown, who works for the DC Commission on Arts and Humanities as the Community Engagement Specialist, echoed the same sentiment. Whether it is writing poetry or crocheting, the key to success in life is to persevere, he says. Nothing good or worthwhile comes easy.

“Be patient with the process. Everything looks bad until it doesn’t. This is a wild and crazy world. We need to express ourselves in our fullness. We need to inspire others to paint, write a poem, or crochet.”

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