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Engage with Poetry of Provocation & Witness!

The Quarry: A Social Justice Poetry Database is a searchable collection of over 300 poems by contemporary socially engaged poets, published by Split This Rock since 2009. Like all of Split This Rock’s programs, The Quarry is designed to bring poetry fully to the center of public life.

Whether you are organizing for social justice, work as a teacher or social worker, or are planning a worship service or other public event, The Quarry offers poems that will inform and inspire you, your peers, and all with whom you work and collaborate.

Share the Poems Widely but Please Give Credit

We encourage you to use and share these poems widely, and ask only that you credit the author and name Split This Rock’s The Quarry: A Social Justice Poetry Database as the source. Please also include a direct link to the database for any reproduction of poems.

For tips on searching the database, click here.


  • For Personal Enjoyment! Be inspired by reading these poems of  provocation and witness. Celebrate poetic diversity and the transformative power of the imagination.
  • Pick a Poem for Your Social Justice Event or Rally. Poetry brings the heart to the front, and can greatly deepen the experience of your rally or event.
  • Build a Social Justice Campaign Around Poetry. Find a poem you love that speaks directly to an issue you’re involved with. Use the poem to inspire others to action, include the poem in your outreach materials and social media, write lines from the poem on placards and signs.
  • Find a Poem for Your Vigil. Poetry offers comfort and vulnerable truth when we mark violence in our communities with vigils.
  • Locate a Poet to Read at Your Event!  Research and identify socially conscious poets and poet-activists in your area and invite them to share their work or to speak at conferences, meetings, or symposia you are organizing.
  • Use Poems to Advocate. Include poems with letters you send to your elected or appointed representatives.
  • Enhance Your School’s Curriculum. Whether it’s history, social studies, or literature, The Quarry offers poetry that examines social justice themes, written by poets who are often social activists themselves. Incorporate the poems into a pre-existing curriculum or create a new one! Poetry can crystallize ideas and experiences in ways that make more theoretical studies much more concrete for students.
  • Put Poetry on Your Staff Meeting Agenda. Open or close a staff meeting with a poem. A poem can move the whole room to think together or move toward action.
  • Inspire Others to Write. Inspire members of community writing workshops, book groups, study circles, and other formal and informal gatherings to claim and reclaim their voices or to more deeply explore issues and aspects of American and global life.
  • Use Poetry to Confront Bias and Learn about Other Cultures. Communities confronting bias and prejudice can share a poem that gives a human face to the “Other.”

We'd love to hear how you use The Quarry. Please send your stories, questions, suggestions to Thank you!

To cite these poems in academic papers or publications:


Last, First Name. “Poem Title.” The Quarry: A Social Justice Poetry Database. Split This Rock, 2015. Web. Date


Last, First Name. (Date of publication). “Poem Title.” The Quarry: A Social Justice Poetry Database. Split This Rock, 2015.
        Date Accessed.


Last, First Name.  “Poem Title.” The Quarry: A Social Justice Poetry Database. Split This Rock, 2015. Publication Date. Date Accessed. /title-of-poem.

Split This Rock thanks the Purdue University Online Writing Lab for these citation formats, and suggests that you check their site for any updates or revisions to these formats.


About the Poems

Poems featured in The Quarry were originally published in Split This Rock’s Poem of the Week series or were winners of Split This Rock’s annual poetry contest or the Abortion Rights Poetry Contest, co-sponsored by the Abortion Care Network. Some of the poets have featured at Split This Rock’s biennial poetry festival and/or Sunday Kind of Love reading and open mic series. Others are members of the national Split This Rock community, Split This Rock teaching artists, members of the DC Youth Slam Team, and more. Sign up for the newsletter to receive the Poem of the Week in your inbox each Friday.