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Program & Schedule: Friday, March 12, 2010

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.

The official bookseller of the festival is the Teaching for Change Bookstore at Busboys and Poets. Visit the store (at Busboys and Poets or online) to find progressive books to activate your mind and community. Run by Teaching for Change.

Wednesday, March 10 Thursday, March 11 Friday, March 12 Saturday, March 13

8:30 am-4 pm     REGISTRATION/CHECK-IN (Thurgood Marshall Center)


9:30-11 am   PANELS & WORKSHOPS 

Dissidence, Memory, and Music in African American Poetry
Randall Horton, Melanie Henderson, and Fred Joiner)
Busboys and Poets, Langston Room

This panel will focus on how writing communities can use music as a way of building a tradition of writing that is accessible and yet informing, or as Erica Hunt would term it, an oppositional poetics. It is the intention of this panel to broaden the perspective of how one interprets blackness as well to demonstrate how memory, dissidence, and music are oftentimes the catalyst for an oppositional poetics.

Women & War/Women & Peace: International Voices
(Naomi Ayala, Elen Awalom, Kim Jensen, Lisa Suheir Majaj, and Pireeni Sundaralingam)
Thurgood Marshall Center-S

Even though women are rarely involved in launching wars—we bear the brunt of war’s nightmarish consequences; and then to further the assault—we are often silenced when we most need to speak. In this session we will expand our understanding of women’s solidarity—across national, ethnic, class boundaries. We hope to enlarge the context of our own creative work and engage in a dialogue about the role of women’s poetry in social movements. We will each share a few poems, and then engage in a moderated discussion with attendees and panelists.

Warriors Writing: Teaching Creative Writing to War Veterans
(Lovella Calica, Cathy Che, George Kovach, and Laren McClung)

Thurgood Marshall Center-1

This panel will focus on teaching creative writing to veterans, fostering a safe and open workshop setting, creating communities, suggestions for pedagogy, resources, and addressing relevant issues such as PTS, otherness, catharsis, and witness. The panel will also focus on how to begin a new program in your community. Panelists have taught with organizations such as Warrior Writers, the Iraq Veterans Writing Program at NYU, and the Vet Center in Brockton, Massachusetts.

From Survivor to Thriver: Write Yourself
(Kristie Cato, Carly Sachs, and Malaika King Albrecht)
Thurgood Marshall Center-2

In this hands-on workshop, Dr. Kristie Cato, Carly Sachs, and Malaika King Albrecht will introduce participants to poetry’s potential as a healing art. Poetry which is used for healing and personal growth can be traced back to religious rites in which shamans chanted poetry for the well-being of the tribe or of an individual. In ancient Egypt, words were written on papyrus and then dissolved into a solution, so that the words could be physically ingested by the patient and thereby quickly take effect. Through writing together, we will evoke the healing power that is within.

Raising Radical Poets
(Kelly Norman Ellis, Ellen Hagan, Mitchell L. H. Douglas, Bianca Spriggs, and Frank X. Walker)

True Reformer Building-1

Raising Radical Poets is a workshop with the Affrilachian Poets, a multi-cultural collective. We will explore writing exercises paired with community building ideas to create socially conscious and active classrooms. We will bring lesson plans, writing samples, games, and prompts to discover ways for young people to become politically aware and engage in their communities by giving teachers and leaders in classrooms, neighborhoods and city centers ways to help their communities be heard as well.


11:30 am-1 pm   PANELS & WORKSHOPS

Documentary Poetics
(Mark Nowak, Philip Metres, and Martha Collins)

Busboys and Poets, Langston Room

Using journalistic investigation, poetic collage, and narrative film techniques, documentary poetry seeks to preserve, in verse, a record of events, much like the Depression-era photographs that were its inspiration. In this panel, we will explore the role of the poet as documentarian and how poets have incorporated news reports, government documents, legal testimony, statistical data, and other source material into what has been referred to as a “poetics of fact.”

Poetry Workshops as Communities - Miriam's Kitchen
Catherine Crum, Virginia Hartman, Bob Blair, and Adam Meyer)
Thurgood Marshall Center-S

Miriam’s Kitchen, a DC nonprofit organization that provides healthy meals and case management services to homeless men and women, conducts a set of poetry workshops for its guests to encourage self-expression and positive relationship-building. In this session we will share the Miriam’s poetry experience, discuss how such poetry groups help create a sense of community, and solicit participants’ ideas on other ways poetry can be used to build supportive communities among people often viewed as marginal by mainstream society. For those interested in poetry reading and writing as a vehicle for meaningful, hands-on social engagement.

Poetry Action Response Team: Thinking in Sevens (A New Community)
Trey Moore, Laura Hope-Gill, Linda Hogan, and Elizabeth Bradfield)
Thurgood Marshall Center-1

On December 22, 2008, Harriman, Tennessee was the site of the recent TVA ash spill. For one week PART leads workshops with residents balanced by informed discussions with local environmentalists. PART facilitates and gathers these voices to discover the ground zero impact of community on environment. Join members of PART for an open discussion on environmental issues, the role of media and citizen journalism, and creating substantive change in affected communities.

Aging & Remembering (Jennifer M. Pierson)
Thurgood Marshall Center-2

To begin a conversation on the creative potential of the elderly, including those with dementias, you will hear a reading of poems written by Elder Care participants. You will participate in a demonstration of the sensory stimulation approach used to retrieve memories and create that poetry. From your experiences as caregivers, professionals and others, the conversation will deepen. Articles and resources on creativity and aging will be provided.

Poetic Exploration
Ellen Hagan, Robyne Walker Murphy, Ama Codjoe, and Austin Greene)
True Reformer Building-1

Poetic Exploration is a workshop using theatre, dance, and visual art to create community poems that cross disciplines and create dialogue for social justice. We will write from personal memory, and social issues, and break into artistic groups. How does the poem change when you physicalize it, paint it, perform it? How do we communicate the issues? How do we share our work in public spaces and get our message to our communities and worlds?

What Makes Effective Political Poetry? Editors' Perspectives
(Jody Bolz, E. Ethelbert Miller, John Rosenwald, and Lee Sharkey)

True Reformer Building-2

As editors of the Beloit Poetry Journal and Poet Lore, we see more and more poetry with political subject matter, but much of it falls prey to rhetoric, a too-easy identification of speaker with victim, or subversion of the poem’s focus from the ostensible subject back to the self. What difficulties do writers encounter in engaging political subjects? What forms might an aesthetic of engagement take in a writer’s daily practice? Please join us for this discussion.


1-2 pm        LUNCH BREAK

2-3:30 pm   FILM & PERFORMANCE

Open Mic featuring 11th Hour Slam
Busboys and Poets, Langston Room

Hosted by Regie Cabico and featuring the 11th Hour Slam. Speak your mind, speak your truth, split some rocks. Bring a 3-minute poem and sign up at the door.

Affrilachian Poet Reading
(Keith S. Wilson, Frank X. Walker, Kelly Norman Ellis, Mitchell L.H. Douglass, Bianca Spriggs, and Ellen Hagan)
Thurgood Marshall Center-S

Audience members who attend the Affrilachian Poet reading will be given a heightened awareness of the voices of color from the Appalachian region (and beyond) which are seldom heard over the much louder Beverly Hillbilly stereotypes. They will learn—through a craft honed on stages, in community centers and colleges, and in prisons—about a sense of community that far extends the artificial boundaries of location or race.

Yoga & Poetry in Changing Times
(Yael Flusberg and Carly Sachs)
Thurgood Marshall Center-1

“I consider myself a soldier, but a soldier of peace”
Mahatma Gandhi

In this experiential workshop, we’ll use yoga and poetry to explore the archetype of the warrior as an activist, creative, and spiritual path. Is the outer battlefield a metaphor for inner wrestling? Are there skillful means in waging battle? Is non-harming the same as non-violence? Join us as we move bodies, ideas, and pens in reflecting deeply on our individual and collective warriorhood.

Note: Expect periods of yoga practice interspersed with time for writing. Wear comfortable clothes, 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 an injury or disability, or any other questions/concerns, please feel free to contact one of the facilitators before the workshop (Yael Flusberg or Carly Sachs)

Poetry in China: A Force for Change
(John Rosenwald and Arthur Sze)
Thurgood Marshall Center-2

Poetry has played a substantial role in China’s recent shifting cultural landscape. This role includes a rejection of stultified official communication, a reinvention of emotional and intellectual content through fresh language, and the imagining of ideals often through the lens of poetic discourse. This panel will explore each from his/her perspective, the role of poetry in the transformation of Chinese society since the end of the Cultural Revolution and the death of Mao Zedong in 1976. Arthur Sze will read from the new anthology he edited, Chinese Writers on Writing (Trinity University Press, April 2010).


Children of Warriors: Inheriting War Anthology Reading
Cathy Linh Che, Ada Limón, Laren McClung, Ocean Vuong, and Adam Wiedewitsch)
True Reformer Building-1

This reading will represent a selection of work from children of Vietnam War Veterans. Poets will read work from the anthology, which presents both the Vietnamese Diaspora and American voices that bear witness and portray family in the aftermath of war: post-traumatic stress, Agent Orange, domestic violence, exile, and relocation are issues represented.


3:30-5 pm     FREE TIME

5-7 pm       FEATURED READING (Bell Multicultural High School)

Patricia Smith

Martín Espada

Arthur Sze

8-10 pm       FEATURED READING (Bell Multicultural High School)

Jeffrey McDaniel

Natalie E. Illum

Jan Beatty

Quincy Troupe