Program & Schedule: Saturday, March 22, 2008
The Split This Rock Poetry Festival brought poets and writers to Washington, D.C. on the fifth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, in the midst of the presidential election, for four days of collaboration, learning, and performance. The festival featured readings, workshops, panel discussions, youth programming, activism, and walking tours—opportunities to build community and celebrate the many ways that poetry can act as an agent for change. Hundreds joined us as we celebrated poetic diversity and the transformative power of the imagination.
|Thursday, March 20||Friday, March 21||Saturday, March 22||Sunday, March 23|
|8:30 a.m. Registration, Thurgood Marshall Center Foyer|
9:00 a.m. Concurrent Poetry Walking Tours
9-10:30 a.m. Panels & Workshops
Iraqi Children Speak: Story Telling, Poetry and Traditions Of Peace - Reading and Dialogue
Hero Anwar Brzw, Kakahama Askary, Christi Kramer, Iraqi (Kurdish) Children’s Writing Group
In Arabic, Kurdish and English, we will read poems and speak first person about: experience in war, occupation, sanctions, identity and about living between worlds linguistically and physically in exile. We will discuss the importance of poetry in Iraq through history. Looking at storytelling, we will consider the form and container of poetry: The body/voice as the container/structure for poetry. We ask: What happens when the human body is destroyed? What happens when the social body is destroyed? We will consider Iraqi traditions for creating peace and telling story through poetry. With participants, we hope to build community and peace through storytelling and collaborative creation.
Yoga & Poetry: Tools for Trying Times
“At the touch of love, everyone becomes a poet." -Plato
Yoga is a lifelong study of both the small, individual self, and the broader self that inspires many to sustain activist and creative practices, especially in troubling times. Like poetry, yoga uses description, metaphor, and other figurative vehicles to discover hidden or dormant parts of ourselves, inviting them out to play. Both yoga and poetry can illuminate pathways to feelings, memories, images and stories embedded within our tissues and help us reflect, heal, and build community.
Note: In this experiential workshop, expect periods of actual yoga practice interspersed with time for writing. Please dress accordingly, and bring a mat, your favorite notebook and pen, and an open attitude. Neophytes and seasoned practitioners of both yoga and writing are most welcome, but if you have doubts because of a injury or disability, please contact Yael at <email@example.com> before the workshop.
Once Spoken, No Longer Unspeakable
Kriti Sharma, Emily Chavez, Alexis Pauline Gumbs, Tema Okun, Serena Sebring
This panel/workshop, inspired by a women of color survivor led coalition to end gendered violence, will give participants a chance to sit with the power of poetry to say that which cannot and yet must be said. Together, we will seek the possibilities of the poetic voice to help us know our joy, rage, delight, pain, anger, frustration, disbelief, wonder about our world, to mark a space where justice lives. Our method is based on a collaborative process that we have found builds and transforms, one that participants can use in their own communities.
11-12:30 p.m. Panels & Workshops
Writing Isn't Lonely: Collaborative Writing Workshop
Susan Tichy, Eleanor Graves, Danika Myers
Poet as Oracle
Patricia Monaghan, Coleman Barks, Allison Hedge Coke, Richard Cambridge
For most of human history, the poet was not defined in commercial terms but served as mediator between the human and the greater-than-human worlds. Poetry of witness has a long and distinguished history in traditional societies. African griots, Native American orators, Celtic bards—all put words and images at the service of their communities. Within the canon of western literature, poets of witness can be found who expand the oracular traditions: William Blake, William Butler Yeats, Walt Whitman, HD, and others. This panel introduces the history of oracular poetry and provides examples of contemporary poets working within that tradition.
Poetry, Politics, and the Rant
José Gouveia, Corey Cokes, Martín Espada, Alicia Ostriker, Colorado T. Sky
We hear much about activism, poetry & politics and the political rants of dissent. The rant is one of the most popular “genres” of protest poetry. But how effective is the rant today? When does the rant work and when doesn’t it? Are other forms of political poetry more effective in reaching their political and activist goals? As poets and activists, a focused strategy is needed to take down oppressive political forces. We will look at what voices have had the most socio-political success and explore their trends to better strategize for America’s future.
The Poet as Political Appointee - an Oxymoron or Opportunity?
Marjory Wentworth, Lucille Clifton, Michael Glaser, Lisa Starr, Maxwell Wheat
This panel will explore ways to re-claim the power of the precise word, the accurate metaphor and the human connections that transcend political, religious and language barriers so that we can emerge out of the shadowed silence of our times to speak clearly our common names. What has been the experience of some state poets wearing the mantel of a political appointee within a governmental structure that seems not to value the things that poetry values? How does one walk the line between public and private roles? How does one define that line? Is there such a line?
1:30-3 p.m. Panels & Workshops
Word Warriors-Women Leaders in the Spoken Word Revolution
Alix Olson, Theresa Davis, Karen Garrabrant, Natalie E. Illum
Often women in art and activism debate the need for women’s spaces as well as the definition of “woman” for an inclusive poetic activism. We will be open to discussing these representations in our panel. Female poets are some of the spokeswomen for a new generation. This demanding oral poetry produces a vanguard of women who think and act to create distinctive and earned realities. The combinations of the eminent slam, performance poetry and direct action arts movements with bold underground feminisms created a unique pool of women who verbally challenge society on all fronts. We seek to discuss what this movement is and more importantly, where it is going and how participants in it are, or can be, ambassadors for activism and change.
Writing Out (of) Crisis
Rosemary Winslow, Davi Walders, Laura Madeline Wiseman
Three poets experienced in writing and teaching out (of) crisis, Davi Walders, Laura Madeline Wiseman, and Rosemary Winslow, will lead a workshop in how to work with people in crisis. Their experience includes sexual and domestic trauma, terminal illness, writing about such trauma, and more than ten years of working with assisting women in hospitals, shelters, and crisis centers to write for expression and recovery.
Begin Again: A Tribute to Grace Paley, Sekou Sundiata, and Sandy Taylor
Naomi Ayala, Sarah Browning, Lucille Clifton, Julie Enszer, Martín Espada, Gwyn Kirk, Katea Stitt, and others
In 2007, we lost three of the most visionary activist poets of our times: Grace Paley, Sekou Sundiata, and Sandy Taylor, cofounder and coeditor of Curbstone Press. All wrote poetry that told the beautiful, complex human story. They were tireless advocates for poetry and art that spoke for the voiceless and united us across our differences. Join us as we pay tribute to Grace, Sekou, and Sandy, and remember their art, their activism, and their enormous hearts. Friends will present remembrances and favorite poems, then you'll be invited to add your voice, as well, as we celebrate the lives of these three greats.
Grace Cavalieri, Brian De Shazor, Jennifer King
We must preserve our memories of the world to bring language art into the future. Broadcasting becomes archiving which becomes preservation. Grace Cavalieri of the Poet and the Poem, Brian De Shazor, Director of Pacifica Radio Archives, and Jennifer King of GWU Special Collections discuss poetry and its permanence, and what programs are in place at their institutions. It will be a 3-way conversation punctuated with audio samples from the Pacifica Radio Archives, and commentaries on the poetry heard in context of 20th century social movements. Brian will play audio samples of great writers. Jennifer King, Special Collections Librarian, GWU will discuss a new endeavor that GWU is involved with that will offer those who publish online journals a way to preserve those journals in an online system.
Media Skills Training
While poetry is the language of expression, media messages are the language of the press. Join experienced media activist Sarah Massey for a session on how to access the media and earn coverage for your creative activist events. Sarah will lead workshop participants through brainstorming and planning how to work with media to broadcast your message to greater audiences.
3-5 p.m. Teen Open Mic
Hosted by Regie Cabico.
5:00 p.m. Featured Reading
8:00 p.m. Featured Reading
10:00 p.m. Split This Rock Film Program
A screening of cutting-edge short films that showcase how poets, writers, and activists are collaborating with visual media artists to explore critical social issues. Featured films include work by Jimmy Santiago Baca, Francesco Levato, Antonello Faretta, Taatske Pieterson, Katja Esson, Frey Hoffman, D J Kadagian, Sadie Wilcox & Petra Kuppers, Jay Rosenblatt & Jeanne Marie Beaumont, and Liz Rodda.
11:00 p.m. Open Mic
Hosted by Regie Cabico and featuring Chris August.