Split This Rock programs integrate poetry into public life and supports poets of all ages who write and perform this essential work. Past program offerings over Split This Rock's nearly 15 years of work include in-person and virtual readings, workshops, panel and roundtable discussions; youth programs that reach every ward in the city such as the DC Youth Slam Team (DCYST), in-person and virtual youth writing workshops, youth open mics and performances; collaborative programs that bring poetry of provocation and witness to new audiences; poetry contests and publication projects such as the Poem of the Week Series; Split This Rock Poetry Festival: Poems of Provocation & Witness; and campaigns to integrate poetry into movements for social change.
Split This Rock's Poem of the Week series publishes a contemporary poem online each week and sends each poem to Split This Rock's entire network via our weekly email newsletter. You can sign up to receive the Poem of the Week as well as other emails from Split This Rock by completeing this brief sign-up form.
All poems Split This Rock has published in the series since 2009, along with contest winners and a selection of videos from past festivals and youth programs, are available in The Quarry: A Social Justice Poetry Database, searchable by social justice theme, author’s identity, state, and geographic region. Like all of Split This Rock’s programs, Poem of the Week and The Quarry are designed to bring poetry fully to the center of public life.
Split This Rock has partnered with one of its co-founders Melissa Tuckey to compile and publish Ghost Fishing: An Eco-Justice Poetry Anthology. The anthology includes poems that recognize our human impact on the natural world as well as political and cultural dimensions of our relationship with the environment. Visit the Eco-Justice Project web page to learn more. Also, check out the January 2016 Poetry Magazine Eco-Justice Portfolio co-edited by Melissa and Don Share.
Readings & Roundtables
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Split This Rock has offered live-streamed readings and a roundtable discussion. You can access captioned recordings of these readings on Split This Rock's YouTube channel.
In June 2022, Split This Rock live-streamed "The future lives in our bodies:" A Virtual Disability Justice & Poetry Roundtable." The featured poets were Naomi Ortiz, Meg Day, and Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha. Camisha Jones served as moderator. The event was presented in support of the 6th annual initiative of the Poetry Coalition. The line “The future lives in our bodies” is from the poem “Femme Futures” by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha. A captioned recording of the roundtable is available on YouTube. We invite you to learn more about Split This Rock's programming in support of The Poetry Coalition's 2022 themeby visiting our webpage devoted to the initiative.
Before the pandemic, the monthly Sunday Kind of Love poetry series took place at the 14th & V Streets location of Busboys and Poets the third Sunday of the month, 5-7 pm. The monthly reading was co-sponsored by Busboys and Poets. The series presented a diverse line-up of prominent local and national poets to a lively and engaged audience.
Split This Rock offers frequent poetry workshops, attended by a wide diversity of practicing writers, from beginners to well established poets. Past workshop leaders include: John Murillo, Rachel Eliza Griffiths, Brenda Hillman, Gayle Danley, Jericho Brown, and Eduardo C. Corral, among others. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, all workshop offerings have been virtual. Announcements about upcoming virtual workshop offerings will be made by email and on social media. You can sign up to receive updates by subscribing to Split This Rock's email list.
Split This Rock Youth Programs have included the DC Youth Slam Team (DCYST); Louder Than a Bomb, a DC-MD-VA high school poetry slam team annual competition; a monthly youth open mic; performances and workshops online and at universities and national youth conferences; extensive youth programming at Split This Rock Poetry Festival, and more. Learn more by visiting the DC Youth Slam Team on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or YouTube. Announcements about upcoming youth programs offerings will be made by email and on social media. You can sign up to receive updates by subscribing to Split This Rock's email list.
Contests and Awards
Currently on pause, Split This Rock has annually held the Sonia Sanchez-Langston Hughes Poetry Contest, a national poetry contest which serves to raise the visibility and prestige of poetry of provocation and witness. Past judges have included: Richard Blanco, Franny Choi, Rigoberto González, Natalie Diaz, Kyle Dargan, Mark Doty, Naomi Shihab Nye, Tim Seibles, Jan Beatty, and Chris Abani.
From 2012 to 2017, the Abortion Care Network (ACN), a national organization of independent abortion providers and prochoice supporters, and Split This Rock hosted an Abortion Rights Poetry Contest. Judges have included Jan Beatty, Sonya Renee Taylor, and Katha Pollit.
In 2013, with generous support from the CrossCurrents Foundation, Split This Rock launched the Freedom Plow Award for Poetry & Activism, honoring a poet who is doing innovative and transformative work at the intersection of poetry and social change. Recipients for the award were selected in 2013, 2015, and 2017.
Split This Rock Poetry Festival: Poems of Provocation & Witness is a multi-day convening which gathered poets, activists, and dreamerstogether in Washington, DC for readings, workshops, discussions, youth voices & activism. Last held in 2018, the 2020 Poetry Festival was canceled due to the pandemic. You can find recorded readings from past Split This Rock Poetry Festivals at Split This Rock's YouTube channel.
Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here DC 2016 (January - March 2016) is a book arts and cultural festival which took place throughout the Washington, DC area. Exhibits, programs, and events commemorated the 2007 bombing of Baghdad’s historic bookselling street, and celebrated the free exchange of ideas and knowledge. Events in solidarity with the people of Iraq are documented in videos on YouTube.