Program & Schedule: Thursday, March 27, 2014
Split This Rock Poetry Festival: Poems of Provocation & Witness invites poets, writers, activists, and dreamers to Washington, DC for four days of poetry, community building, and creative transformation. The festival features readings, workshops, panel discussions, youth programming, parties, activism—opportunities to speak out for justice, build connection and community, and celebrate the many ways poetry can act as an agent for social change.
All venues are accessible. Please let us know what your needs are.
Click the links below to view each day's program.
Thursday, March 27
8:30am – 5:30pm FESTIVAL REGISTRATION
Human Rights Campaign, Equality Forum [Map]
11:30am – 1:00pm
Citizen Poet Queer: Building a Blueprint for LGBTQ Cultural Activism
Crossing the Boundaries of the Self: Writing Through Others’ Stories
One powerful method for writing poetry that “bears witness” to events we haven’t experienced ourselves is to write through someone else’s experience, taking on that person’s voice and/or telling their story. Such poems may give voice to events or voices at the margin of mainstream society, or may draw attention to a different perspective on historical or current events. Panelists will read two poems each and discuss questions that arise, such as: When writing about someone else’s experience, how do you decide whether to use the first, second, or third person? How can you be sure that you are conveying that person’ s experience accurately? What kind of research should you do, if any? What are the challenges, rewards, and possible pitfalls of writing beyond “what you know”?Engaging Youth with Slam & Spoken Word Poetry
Elizabeth Acevedo, Pages Matam, Jonathan B. Tucker
Human Rights Campaign, Room 105A [Map]
As performance poetry and slam competition grow in popularity, many organizations are using the energetic and entertaining format of slam to engage, inspire, and motivate young students. In this interactive workshop, Split This Rock’s award-winning youth workers will discuss the benefits and challenges of slam poetry programs and facilitate dialogue among participants about best practices and how to reach and motivate more students using poetry.
Using Art and Poetry Created by Children and Teens in Wartime to Bring Activism for Peace into the Classroom
Using examples of children’s visual art and poetry from the Spanish Civil War, Gaza, Vietnam and the former Yugoslavia, this workshop will demonstrate how this artwork is essential to effective social justice education. Poetry created by recently arrived teenage refugees from Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Burma, and Nepal will also be introduced to further the discussion about the urgency of integrating the devastating effects of war and the possibilities for creating peace into public school curricula. Participants will write persona poems in order to experience the ways high school and college students can understand war through direct interaction with artistic expressions about the trauma of violent conflict and forced migrations. Handouts include writing prompts, poetry examples, and an extensive bibliography of children’s and young adult literature, poetry, and visual art related to war and peace.
We’d Like to Have Words with You: A Poetry Reading and Conversation with Two Generations of VONA/Voices Writers
2:00pm – 3:30pm
Affrilachia: Affrilachian Poets on Identity, Place & Landscape
The Affrilachian Poets is a multi-cultural writing collective representing the Appalachian region, a mountain range stretching over thirteen states along the East Coast. Since 1991, the Affrilachian Poets have been writing together, defying the persistent stereotype of a racially homogenized rural region. They continue to reveal relationships that link identity to familial roots, socio-economic stratification and cultural influence, and an inherent connection to the land. This reading will feature current members of the Affrilachian Poets sharing their new work, with a Q&A session at the end.
Beauty, Disability, Queerness & Body Politic
Mapping the Selves: Compulsion & Resistance in Autobiographical Poetry
Rethinking the City: Poetic Strategies for Renewing Urban Space
Urban lives are designed and controlled as never before. This roundtable brings together a diverse range of poets from different schools of poetry whose work is united in challenging the homogeneity of cities, and whose work and practices create new ways to visualize and interact with the landscapes in which we live.The roundtable will provide a much-needed platform through which to compare the artistic interventions being used in different cities, and to examine how individual citizen-artists can play a role in reshaping urban environments through art.Road Ready: Poetic Mapping & Movement
Charles Sumner School, Room 101 [Map]
The road of the imagination contains a surprising amount of concrete images which may be mapped out, as well as the “much unseen” that Walt Whitman spoke about in his epic “Song of the Open Road.” By using the tools of both poetry and yoga, we can transform into road-ready travelers of the imagination. In this experiential workshop, we’ll intersperse movement with writing prompts to help us escape our habitual residence in the intellect, in order to assume a more graceful position in the realm of reflective presence. Both the physical and creative exercises will be designed to help participants map out familiar roads (our individual bodies and minds, for instance, or our shared socio-historical movement), as well as chart out the possibilities that lie ahead. Participants should dress comfortably and bring your favorite notebook and pen and an open attitude.
4:00pm – 5:30pm
Claiming History: Writing Cliophrastic Poems
Clio, the Muse of History, inspires us to revisit, reinterpret, and reclaim. This work is particularly important for people who have been historically oppressed or underrepresented in cultural narratives: women, GLBTQ people, people of color, and those who come from ethnic or religious minority groups. In this roundtable, three writers who have specialized in historical poems as a means to uncover and reclaim will read examples of their work, and discuss the pleasures and pitfalls of writing about American history. We will explore the sometimes conflicting needs of art and fact, and distribute a “recommended reading” list.
Disturbing the Piece: A Dialogue on Activism & Art with Young Splitistas
The Environment in Crisis: Poetry & Activism
We recently passed 400 parts per million of CO2 in the atmosphere, bringing us close to the number 450, which climate scientists warn we must avoid. Environmental regulations have been rolled back or disappeared. Oil and gas development in the US is ravaging our water systems and air. A former head of Monsanto now runs the FDA. All these problems are connected, none is more urgent than any other, and all are linked to social justice problems. Time for a major paradigm shift! What are poets doing? What can poets do? Panelists will discuss their eco-poetic activism and brainstorm ways to come together as a community around this growing crisis.
Talking Back to the World: Using Poetry and Performance to Speak Out Against Injustice
Touching and Naming the Roots of This Tree: Seeds for Multicultural/Multilingual Narrative Poems
As poets with roots here and in other countries or cultures, we must continue to write narrative poems that authentically reflect the complexity of our own identities and journeys, even as we call the United States home. Part of this complexity stems from the need to write narrative poems that code-switch between languages and/ or are written in one’s mother tongue(s). When we do so and when we factor in race, ethnicity, class, gender, language, and identity, we capture more fully the experiences we, our living relatives, and our ancestors have and have had. Please bring an object of personal meaning (a photo, a newspaper clipping, a factory ID, etc.) to you and/or to a family member, living or deceased, as a writing prompt for yourself and others. The workshop leader is a multi-linguist (English, Spanish, German, and conversational Farsi) who invites participants to own your own languages and dialects as you write and read aloud your first drafts.
7:30pm – 9:00pm - FEATURED READING
Joy Harjo, Dunya Mikhail, Danez Smith & DC Youth Slam Team Member Amina Iro
National Geographic, Grosvenor Auditorium
10:00pm – 12:00am