Skip to Content
Zoom:  A  A  A

2010 Split This Rock Poetry Festival

Check out these photos of the 2010 Festival!

Free Public Events

The 2010 Festival offered a variety of free events open to the public. This included the social change book fair, open mics, activism, and films.

Book Fair

In addition to readings, panels, workshops, and opportunities to build community across barriers this year, we also want to showcase the significant role of publishers and those who bring us the kinds of writing Split This Rock celebrates: impassioned, visionary, and truth-telling. And we want to bring the critically important work of social change groups to poets, activists, and the public.

With this in mind, we're introducing a Social Change Book Fair to Split This Rock 2010. The book fair will be an opportunity to further our mission of getting the critical work of socially engaged poets, writers, organizations, progressive presses, literary magazines, and independent newspapers to our festival participants.


The 2010 festival events took place in the U Street Neighborhood, at Bell Multicultural High School in the Columbia Heights neighborhood, and in DC's Mount Pleasant neighborhood.

Known as the “Black Broadway,” U Street is the historic center of African-American cultural life in Washington, DC. It was home to many clubs and theatres that featured such jazz superstars at Duke Ellington and Pearl Bailey. In the 1920s, DC poets such as Angelina Weld Grimke, Jean Toomer, and Langston Hughes wrote essential works on the African-American experience while living in the area. Recently, U Street has become the focal point for DC’s vibrant poetry and spoken word community; one can attend a reading or open mic almost any night of the week at restaurants, cafes, and nightclubs there.

Welcome Statement from the 2010 Festival's Program Book 

Welcome to Split This Rock Poetry Festival 2010!

You have come to our nation’s capital from all over the region and all over the country—and the world—to celebrate poetry that bears witness to our troubles and that provokes us to think in new ways, to bust out of the 24-7 cycle of sound bytes and language that is designed to lull us into despair and complacency or to incite us into bullying rage.

Two years ago, at the first Split This Rock Poetry Festival, on the fifth anniversary of the war in Iraq, we began to find one another. This discovery – of so many extraordinary poets doing such essential work in the world – gave us strength to continue to struggle for a world we know is possible. We listened to one another, wrestled with one another, honored one another, and learned new strategies for bringing poetry to those starved for its sustenance. We knew it was just a beginning.

We come together this year because our country faces a crippling crisis of imagination. We know the problems we face are enormous: a rapidly deteriorating planet, a broken health care system, millions out of work, so many who’ve lost their homes, children who go to bed hungry, two wars that grind on with no end in sight.

After a year of rancor and name calling, we seem even to have lost the belief in our power to solve these problems. In our despair, too many Americans don’t know what an alternative to the status quo might look like.

For this vision, we need all of you, our most creative citizens, our poets.

You are imagining alternatives with the gorgeous complexity of your poems. And you are working out solutions in your communities—at homeless shelters and senior centers, in prisons and after-school programs, engaging with communities devastated by environmental injustice and economic plunder. We draw sustenance reading about your work and we are so excited that you are here. You are our heroes.

There is much work to do. We are thrilled to be bringing you a second Split This Rock Poetry Festival, overflowing with the voices and visions of so many extraordinary poets, activists, and dreamers.

We invite you to meet one another, to step outside your comfort zone. Attend a panel or workshop on a topic new to you. Engage the difficult questions. Don’t be shy. Remember the words of one of our mentors in this work, Adrienne Rich: “When poetry lays its hand on our shoulder … we are to an almost physical degree, touched and moved. The imagination’s roads open before us giving the lie to that slammed and bolted door, that razor-wired fence, that brute dictum ‘There is no alternative.’”

This country and this planet cry out for your poetry, for the visions we can forge together.