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2016 Split This Rock Poetry Festival

Every two years poets, activists, and dreamers gather in our nation’s capital for four days of readings, workshops, discussions, youth voices & activism. Split This Rock Poetry Festival: Poems of Provocation & Witness 2016 will take place April 14-17, 2016.

Registration for Split This Rock Poetry Festival 2016 opens later this winter. Sign up on our mailing list to be notified when it does!

We're thrilled to share that Juan Felipe Herrera, newly appointed Poet Laureate of the United States, will kick off the festival with a special event at the Library of Congress on April 13, and will be part of this gathering of socially engaged poets from his new position as a national spokesperson for poetry. To learn more about Juan Felipe Herrera, visit his website.


Photo of Juan Felipe Herrera


We're still lining up all of the poets for the 2016 festival. Below is a list of the brilliant poets we've confirmed thus far.


Jennifer Bartlett was born in the San Francisco Bay Area and educated at the University of New Mexico, Vermont College, and Brooklyn College. Bartlett is the author of Derivative of the Moving Image (UNM Press 2007), (a) lullaby without any music (Chax 2012), and Autobiography/Anti-Autobiography (Theenk 2014). Bartlett also co-edited, with Sheila Black and Michael Northen, Beauty is a Verb: The New Poetry of Disability.  In December 2014, she co-edited, with Professor George Hart, a collection of the poet Larry Eigner’s letters and participated in a “roundtable” on disability and poetics for Poetry Magazine. Bartlett has received fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, Fund for Poetry, and the Dodd Research Center at the University of Connecticut. She is currently writing a full-length biography on Eigner, and recently had a residency at the Gloucester Writer’s Center. Bartlett has taught poetry and disability awareness at Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls, United Cerebral Palsy, the MS Society, and New York Public Schools. Bartlett has had mild cerebral palsy since birth.


Photo of Jan Beatty










Jan Beatty’s book, The Switching/Yard, was named by Library Journal as one of ...30 New Books That Will Help You Rediscover Poetry. The Huffington Post called her one of ten “advanced women poets for required  reading.”  Other books include Red Sugar (2008, Finalist, Paterson Prize), Boneshaker (2002), and Mad River (1994 Agnes Lynch Starrett Prize), published by the University of Pittsburgh Press. Her limited edition  chapbooks include Ravage, published by Lefty Blondie Press in 2012, and Ravenous, winner of the 1995 State Street Prize. Beatty hosts and produces Prosody, a public radio show on NPR affiliate WESA-FM featuring  national writers. She worked as a welfare caseworker, in maximum security prisons, and as a waitress for fifteen years. Awards include publication in Best American Poetry 2013, the Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry, two  PCA fellowships, and the $15,000 Creative Achievement Award from the Heinz Foundation. Beatty has read her work widely, at venues such as the Geraldine R. Dodge Festival and the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. She directs the creative writing program at Carlow University and the Madwomen in the Attic Workshops, where she teaches in the MFA program. Learn more at Jan Beatty’s website.


Photo of Reginald Dwayne Betts












Reginald Dwayne Betts is a writer and poet. Four Way Books will publish his latest collection of poems, Bastards of the Reagan Era. His first collection of poems, Shahid Reads His Own Palm, won the Beatrice Hawley Award. Betts’ memoir, A Question of Freedom: A Memoir of Learning, Survival, and Coming of Age in Prison, was the recipient of the 2010 NAACP Image Award for non-fiction. His writing has also led to a Soros Justice Fellowship, a Radcliffe Fellowship, a Ruth Lily Fellowship, and a Pushcart Prize. In addition to his writing, Mr. Betts serves as the national spokesperson for the Campaign for Youth Justice and was appointed to the Coordinating Council of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention by President Barack Obama. He is currently a student at Yale Law School.


Photo of Regie Cabico









Regie Cabico is a pioneer of spoken word and the first openly queer and Asian slam poet to take top prizes in the 1993, 1994 and 1997 National Poetry Slams. He is a former Nuyorican Poets Grand Slam Champion. He co-edited Flicker & Spark: A Contemporary Anthology of Queer Poetry and Spoken Word (Lowbrow Press, 2013) which was nominated for a 2014 Lambda Literary Award. Television appearances include HBO's Def Poetry Jam and NPR's Snap Judgement. His work appears in over 30 anthologies including The Spoken Word Revolution (Sourcebooks, 2003), Chorus & The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry (Thunder’s Mouth Press, 1999), and Aloud: Voices from the Nuyorican Poets Café (Henry Holt and Company, 1994). Regie curates and hosts Sparkle Queer Open Mic at Busboys & Poets in DC. In addition to founding Capturing Fire International Queer Spoken Word Slam, he is co-founder of Split This Rock, as well as La-Ti-Do, a weekly spoken word/musical theatre cabaret series, with DonMike Mendoza. A recipient of a 2006 New York Innovative Theater Award, Regie performs his unique blend of poetry, stand-up comedy and theater throughout North America and the United Kingdom.


Photo of Dominique Christina








Dominique Christina. Mother. Teacher. Writer. TEDX Speaker. Licensed educator. Unapologetically large. Dominique entered the world of slam (competitive) poetry in 2011 and won the National Poetry Slam Competition that year. In 2012, Dominique won the Women of the World Poetry Slam Championship. In 2014 she won the Women of the World Poetry Slam Championship again. She is presently the only person to win that honor twice. She performed her tribute poem for Emmett Till in Washington D.C. for an inaugural event celebrating the anniversary of the March on Washington for Emmett Till and Trayvon Martin's family. Her work was featured on TV ONE's broadcasted show Verses and Flow. Her first full length book of poetry The Bones, The Breaking, The Balm was published by Penmanship Books in NY. Her book This is Woman's Work is set for publication by Sounds True Publishing October 2015. Her work can be found in various anthologies and literary journals including Heart and Soul Magazine, The Dead Animal Handbook Anthology, Tandem, The Independent, Hysteria, and others. She is presently working on a Young Adult novel for Random House/Knopf.  Learn more at Dominique Christina’s website.


Photo of Nikky Finney










Nikky Finney was born in South Carolina, within listening distance of the sea. A child of activists, she came of age during the civil rights and Black Arts Movements. At Talladega College, nurtured by Hale Woodruff’s Amistad murals, Finney began to understand the powerful synergy between art and history. Finney has authored four books of poetry: Head Off & Split (2011); The World Is Round (2003); Rice (1995); and On Wings Made of Gauze (1985). The John H. Bennett, Jr. Chair in Southern Letters and Literature at the University of South Carolina, Finney also authored Heartwood (1997), edited The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South (2007), and co-founded the Affrilachian Poets. Finney’s fourth book of poetry, Head Off & Split was awarded the 2011 National Book Award for poetry. Learn more at Nikky Finney’s website. (Photo by Rachel Eliza Griffiths)


Photo of Ross Gay

Ross Gay is the author of three books: Against Which, Bringing the Shovel Down, and Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude.  He is also the co-author, with Aimee Nezhukumatathil, of the chapbook  Lace and Pyrite: Letters from Two Gardens, in addition to being co-author, with Richard Wehrenberg, Jr., of the chapbook, River.  He is a founding editor, with Karissa Chen and Patrick Rosal, of the online sports magazine Some Call it Ballin', in addition to being an editor with the chapbook presses Q Avenue and Ledge Mule Press.  Ross is a founding board member of the Bloomington Community Orchard, a non-profit, free-fruit-for-all food justice and joy project. Ross teaches at Indiana University.  He has received fellowships from Cave Canem, the Bread Loaf Writer's Conference, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the Radcliffe Institute. Learn more at Ross Gay’s website.

Black and white photo of Aracelis Girmay

Aracelis Girmay is originally from Santa Ana, California. She went *to school* at Cave Canem, Acentos, NYU, Community~Word Project, and Bar 13. Girmay is the author of the poetry collections Teeth and Kingdom Animalia, and the collage-based picture book changing, changing. She has been awarded the GLCA New Writers Award and the Isabella Gardner Award (BOA Editions), and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Most recently, Girmay's poetry and essays have been published in Granta, Black Renaissance Noire, The Spoon River Poetry Review, and Prairie Schooner. She has received grants and fellowships from Civitella Ranieri, the NEA, and the Whiting Foundation. For the past few years, Girmay has been studying texts and other materials that, through form, language(s), diction, and gesture, perform and think about place and loss of place (or displacement) and what this sometimes has to do with the sea. Her book, The Black Maria, is slated for publication by BOA in the spring. Current collaborations include work with the Critical Projections collective and a translation project with writer and visual artist Rosalba Campra. Girmay is on the faculty of The School for Interdisciplinary Arts at Hampshire College and Drew University's low-residency MFA program. Before that, and for several years, Girmay taught community and youth writing workshops. She continues to dream of ways to participate in/facilitate community and youth writing workshops more regularly. For more information, visit Girmay’s website. (Photo by Sheila Griffin)


Black and white photo of RIGOBERTO GONZÁLEZ

Rigoberto González is the author four books of poetry, most recently Unpeopled Eden, which won the Lambda Literary Award and the Lenore Marshall Prize from the Academy of American Poets. His ten books of prose include two bilingual children’s books, the three young adult novels in the Mariposa Club series, the novel Crossing Vines, the story collection Men Without Bliss, and three books of nonfiction, including Butterfly Boy: Memories of a Chicano Mariposa, which received the American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation. He also edited Camino del Sol: Fifteen Years of Latina and Latino Writing and Alurista’s new and selected volume Xicano Duende: A Select Anthology. The recipient of Guggenheim, NEA and USA Rolón fellowships, a NYFA grant in poetry, the Shelley Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America, The Poetry Center Book Award, and the Barnes & Noble Writer for Writers Award, he is contributing editor for Poets & Writers Magazine, on the executive board of directors of the National Book Critics Circle, and is professor of English at Rutgers-Newark, the State University of New Jersey. Learn more at Rigoberto González’s website. (Photo by Deidre Schoo)


Photo of Linda Hogan











Linda Hogan, a Chickasaw novelist, essayist, and environmentalist, was born in Denver, Colorado. She earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs and an MA in English and creative writing from the University of Colorado-Boulder. Hogan is the author of the poetry collections Calling Myself Home (1978); Daughters, I Love You (1981); Eclipse (1983); Seeing Through the Sun (1985), which won the American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation; Savings (1988), The Book of Medicines, a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist (1993); and Rounding the Human Corners (2008). Intimately connected to her political and spiritual concerns, Hogan’s poetry deals with issues such as the environment and eco-feminism, the relocation of Native Americans, and historical narratives, including oral histories. Hogan has authored 3 essay collections and 4 novels. Active as an educator and speaker, Hogan taught at the University of Colorado and at the Indigenous Education Institute. She has been a speaker at the United Nations Forum and was a plenary speaker at the Environmental Literature Conference in Turkey in 2009. Hogan’s awards include a Lannan Literary Award, the Mountains and Plains Booksellers Spirit of the West Literary Achievement Award, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native Writers Circle of the Americas. Learn more at Linda Hogan’s website.


Photo of Craig Santos Perez













Craig Santos Perez is a native Chamoru (Chamorro) from the Pacific Island of Guåhan (Guam). He is the co-founder of Ala Press, co-star of the poetry album Undercurrent (2011), and author of three collections of poetry, most recently from unincorporated territory [guma’] (2014), which received the American Book Award. His writing explores themes of indigenous identity, militarism, decolonization, food sovereignty, ecological imperialism, migration, and citizenship. He is an Associate Professor in the English Department, and affiliate faculty with the Center for Pacific Islands Studies and the Indigenous Politics Program at the University of Hawaiʻi, Manoa, where he teaches Pacific literature and creative writing.


Black and white photo of Ocean Vuong








Ocean Vuong is the author of Night Sky with Exit Wounds (Copper Canyon Press, 2016). A 2014 Ruth Lilly fellow, he has received honors from Poets House, The Civitella Ranieri Foundation, The Elizabeth George Foundation, The Academy of American Poets, and a 2014 Pushcart Prize. His poems appear in Boston Review, Kenyon Review, The Nation, New Republic, The New Yorker, Poetry, Tri-Quarterly, and American Poetry Review, which awarded him the 2012 Stanley Kunitz Prize for Younger Poets. Born in Saigon, Vietnam, he lives in New York City. Learn more about Vuong at his website. (Photo by Peter Bienkowski)


To read about how we select featured poets for our festivals, click here.

More information to come!