Campaigns & Advocacy
Letter-Writing Campaign: More Poetry in Major Newspapers' Book Reviews!
If you live in the Washington, DC, area or read The Washington Post, please write a letter to the editor urging more reviews of poetry. We hope to swamp the Post with scores of letters demonstrating the wide audience for poetry among its readership. Use our Sample Letter to the Post or write your own.
If you live outside the area, write a similar letter to the book review section of your local newspaper (even better, launch a local campaign!). Together, we can make this a national camgaign to increase coverage of poetry books in book reviews of major newspapers and begin to restore poetry's place as a major genre of literature in this country.
Poetry Speaks Volumes: Black Lives Matter Poems Delivered to the DOJ
A unique coalition of poetry and social justice organizations is presenting poems that speak for racial justice and resist police brutality in the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), 950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC, on Friday, January 23, 2015. The action was open to public participation and included poetry readings from 12 to 1pm. Spearheaded by Split This Rock, this action was cosponsored by Code Pink, the Institute for Policy Studies, DC Ferguson, Youth Speaks/Brave New Voices, SolidaiTrees, Washington Peace Center, Baltimore Citywide Youth Poetry Team, Bill of Rights Defense Committee, and the DC Guerrilla Poetry Insurgency.
Split This Rock joined with the millions around the world demanding justice, accountability, and an end to racism with impunity. Standing in solidarity with people of color organizing to bring an end to state sponsored terrorism against Black and Brown communities, the action was organized in support of activists; demands in the wake of the death of Michael Brown, found online at www.fergusonaction.com/demands/.
Split This Rock Statement on the Paris Massacre
We at Split This Rock expressed our grief and outrage at the murders of our Parisian comrades in the political arts. We believe thta the essence of art is freedom and that any act that threatens one, threatens the other. Poets across the world stand in solidarity today with those who defended the rights of free expression.
Split This Rock and the Institute for Policy Studies Responded to DCJCC Firing of Ari Roth
Split This Rock and the Insitiute for Policy Studies sent a letter to Carole R. Zawatsky, the CEO of the DC Jewish Community Center, in protest over her firing earlier in the week of Ari Roth, Artistic Director of Theater J. We spoke out agaiinst this stifling of voices of dissent. You can read more here.
Split This Rock Called for Poems that Resist Police Brutality & Demand Racial Justice
Even as our hearts break in rage and anguish over the murder of Black and brown people throughout the land by police who are not held accountable, here at Split This Rock we are heartened by the powerful actions in the streets and the visionary leadership of mostly young people of color in this growing movement for justice.
We are also moved by the poets, who continue to speak out, and especially by BlackPoetsSpeakOut.
In solidarity, Split This Rock offered our blog as a Virtual Open Mic, open to all who respond to our call for Poems that Resist Police Brutality and Demand Racial Justice.
Poet Laureate Action
We received the following letter on June 10, 2014 from Rob Casper, Head of the Poetry & Literature Center at the Library of Congress, which is responsible for the Poet Laureate position.
Rob's letter is in response to the Open Letter Split This Rock initiated, urging the Librarian of Congress, Dr. James Billington, to appoint a person of color as the next Poet Laureate.
It appeared that Dr. Billington had already made his choice when he received our letter. However, we're glad to have raised this critical issue and are confident that the voices of all the signatories will be heard in the future, as Rob indicates at the end of the letter.
Poets & Writers Call for an End of War
On February 3, 2011, we gathered in front of the White House to call for an end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The demonstration included 16 minutes of silence, one minute for each year of the current wars in both countries. We then read, in unison, from the poetry of Muriel Rukeyser and Iraqi poet Dunya Mikhail. Watch footage of the demonstration on PressTV.
Split This Rock thanks all who joined with us for this moving, powerful event, especially the Institute for Policy Studies, the Washington Peace Center, AWP participants, and co-organizers Brenda Hillman and 2010 Split This Rock featured poet Allison Hedge Coke.
The Poets' Contingent at the One Nation Working Together March on Washington
Demand the changes we voted for! One Nation Working Together is a social movement of individuals and organizations committed to putting America back to work and pulling America back together. Coming from a diverse set of backgrounds, experiences, beliefs, and orientations, we are determined to build a more united country with good jobs, equal justice, and high-quality public education for all.
On Saturday, October 2, 2010, thousands of Americans from across the country gathered at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, to demonstrate our re-commitment to change. The poets' contingent carried signs with lines of poetry.
This movement includes human and civil rights organizations, unions and trade associations, nonprofit organizations, youth and student groups, religious and other faith groups, educational, peace, environmental, and ethnic associations, and any other groups and individuals who are committed to pulling our country back together now.
Speak Art to Power
Poets gathered at Split This Rock Poetry Festival in March 2008 signed an Appeal to Poets, Writers, and Creative Artists, and committed to a week of creative protest against war and social injustice March 16-21, 2009. Writers, artists, musicians, performers, are called on to use their art to provoke conversation, protest and action at the six year anniversary of war in Iraq. You can pledge to participate online. We encourage you to work with other artists in your community to organize local events and to post your events as "Speak Art to Power" on the United for Peace and Justice calendar, where others in your community might find your event.
In Washington DC, DC Poets Against the War is hosting a veterans' poetry reading at Busboys and Poets on 14th and V Streets on March 21, from 5-7 pm, with readings from the anthology Post Traumatic Press 2007. Thanks to Patricia Monaghan for her help coordinating.
One Percent for the Arts
Split This Rock joined the Institute for Policy Studies in calling on Congress to support the arts in this time of crisis. During the 1930's the WPA project created jobs for 40,000 artists, musicians, writers, theater workers, and performers. Our generation deserves no less.