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Split This Rock 2014 Featured Poets

Buy featured poets' books from Split This Rock's partner, Teaching for Change, and support progressive, independent, nonprofit booksellers.

To learn more about how we select featured poets, click here.


Sheila_Black1.jpgSheila Black is the author of House of Bone, Love/Iraq (both CW Press) and Wen Kroy (Dream Horse Press) which won the Orphic Prize in Poetry. She co-edited, with Jennifer Bartlett and Mike Northen, Beauty is a Verb: The New Poetry of Disability (Cinco Puntos Press), named a Notable Book for Adults for 2012 by the American Library Association (ALA).  She has received the Frost-Pellicer Frontera Award and was a 2012 Witter Bynner Fellow selected by Philip Levine. She lives in San Antonio, Texas where she directs the literary arts center Gemini Ink.



Franny Choi's poetry explores the collisions of identity, the volatility of language, and the haunting relationship between the artist's body and her body of work. She is the author of Floating Brilliant Gone (Write Bloody Publishing, 2014). She has been a finalist at the National Poetry Slam, the Individual World Poetry Slam, and the Women of the World Poetry Slam. A Pushcart Prize Nominee, her literary work has appeared in Fringe, Apogee, Tandem, Angry Asian Man, and others. Her play Mask Dances, which told the story of the 1980 Kwangju Uprising, was staged for the 2011 Writing is Live Festival. She co-coordinates ProvSlam Youth, a program for young writers in Providence, RI.



Eduardo C. Corral is a CantoMundo fellow. His poems have appeared in Best American Poetry 2012, Ploughshares, Poetry, and Quarterly West. His work has been honored with a "Discovery"/The Nation Award, the J. Howard and Barbara M. J. Wood Prize from Poetry, and writing residencies to the MacDowell Colony and Yaddo. He has served as the Olive B. O'Connor Fellow in Creative Writing at Colgate University and as the Philip Roth Resident in Creative Writing at Bucknell University. Slow Lightning, his first book of poems, won the 2011 Yale Series of Younger Poets competition. The recipient of a Whiting Writers' Award and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, he currently lives in New York City.


Gayle Danley

Gayle Danley won the 1994 National Individual Slam Poet in Ashville, NC just months after being exposed to Slam poetry. In Heidelberg, Germany, she became the 1996 International Slam Poet Champion. She launched a one-woman show, "Brilliance," touching thousands with her Slam Poetry workshops, lectures, performances and speeches. Danley has published three books: Naked, Soulfull—A Slam Poetry Study Guide, and Passionate—Poems You Can Feel. In addition to her motivational speaking and college performances, she has maintained a constant tour of elementary and secondary schools, helping students with traumatic experiences and teaching workshops on Slam poetry to all age groups. She lives in Baltimore, MD.



Natalie Diaz grew up in the Fort Mojave Indian Village in Needles, California, on the banks of the Colorado River. She is Mojave and an enrolled member of the Gila River Indian Community. After playing professional basketball in Europe and Asia for several years, she completed her MFA in poetry and fiction at Old Dominion University. She was awarded the Bread Loaf 2012 Louis Untermeyer Scholarship in Poetry, the 2012 Native Arts and Cultures Foundation Literature Fellowship, a 2012 Lannan Residency, as well as being awarded a 2012 Lannan Literary Fellowship. She won a Pushcart Prize in 2013. Her first book, When My Brother Was an Aztec, was published in 2012 by Copper Canyon Press. She lives in Mohave Valley, AZ, and directs a language revitalization program at Fort Mojave, her home reservation. There she works and teaches with the last Elder speakers of the Mojave language.


Joy_Harjo1by_Karen_KuehnJoy Harjo was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma and is an internationally known poet, performer, writer, and saxophone player of the Mvskoke/Creek Nation. Her seven books of poetry include How We Became Human: New and Selected Poems 1975 - 2002, The Woman Who Fell From the Sky, and She Had Some Horses, all published by W.W. Norton. Her most recent books are a memoir, Crazy Brave  (W.W. Norton, 2012), and Soul Talk, Song Language Conversations with Joy Harjo  (Wesleyan Press, 2011). Her poetry has garnered many awards including the New Mexico Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native Writers Circle of the Americas, 1998 Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Award, and the William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America. Harjo co-edited an anthology of contemporary Native women's writing: Reinventing the Enemy's Language: Native Women's Writing of North America, one of the London Observer's Best Books of 1997, and has written award-winning books for children and young adults. Harjo also performs a one-woman show, "Wings of Night Sky, Wings of Morning Light," which premiered at the Wells Fargo Theater in Los Angeles in 2009 with other performances at the Public Theater in NYC and LaJolla Playhouse. She writes a column “Comings and Goings” for her tribal newspaper, the Muscogee Nation News and lives in Glenpool, OK.


Maria Melendez Kelson has published three poetry titles: How Long She’ll Last in This World and Flexible Bones, both with University of Arizona Press, and a chapbook, Base Pairs, with Swan Scythe Press. Her work appears in Gathered: Contemporary Quaker Poets, and other anthologies. She is currently working on a mystery novel set in the redwood country of Humboldt County, California. She lives in Pueblo, Colorado, where she teaches at Pueblo Community College. Her poetry collections have been finalists for the PEN Center USA Award, the National Latino Book Award, and the Colorado Book Award. Her nonfiction appears in Ms. Magazine, and Sojourns, among other venues.


Komunyakaa_(c)_Tom_WallaceYusef Komunyakaa's seventeen books of poetry include Taboo, Pleasure Dome, Dien Cai Dau, Neon Vernacular, for which he received the Pulitzer Prize, Warhorses, and most recently The Chameleon Couch and Testimony. His many honors include the William Faulkner Prize (Universite Rennes, France), the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the Kingsley Tufts Award for Poetry, and the 2011 Wallace Stevens Award. His plays, performance art, and libretti have been performed internationally and include Saturnalia, Testimony, and Gilgamesh: A Verse Play. Komunyakaa's prose is collected in Blues Notes: Essays, Interviews & Commentaries (University of Michigan Press, 2000). He also co-edited The Jazz Poetry Anthology (with J. A. Sascha Feinstein, 1991), co-translated The Insomnia of Fire by Nguyen Quang Thieu (with Martha Collins, 1995), and served as guest editor for The Best of American Poetry 2003. He teaches at New York University.


Dunya_Mikhail_photo_by_Michael_SmithDunya Mikhail is an Iraqi-American poet, born in Baghdad in 1965, who left Iraq for the US (Michigan) in the mid-1990s. She has worked as a journalist for The Baghdad Observer and her work was found “subversive.” She was awarded the UN Human Rights Award for Freedom of Writing in 2001, and her translator, Elizabeth Winslow, won a 2004 Pen Translation Fund Award. Her first book in English, The War Works Hard (New Directions 2005, Carcanet 2006) was shortlisted for the Griffin Prize and was named one of the 25 books to remember in 2005 by the New York Public Library. It was also translated into Italian by Elena Chiti and published by Edizioni San Marco dei Giustiniani (Rome, 2011). Mikhail’s Diary of A Wave Outside the Sea (New Directions, NY, 2009) won the 2010 Arab American Book Award. Her latest book of poetry is Fifteen Iraqi Poets (New Directions, 2013). A new book of poetry, The Iraqi Nights, is forthcoming from New Directions in 2014.


Shailja_Patel_photoShailja Patel is called by CNN “the people-centered face of globalization." She connects the dots of global justice. An internationally acclaimed Kenyan poet, playwright, public intellectual and activist, her performances have received standing ovations on four continents. Her first book, Migritude, was an Amazon poetry bestseller and a Seattle Times Bestseller. Patel has appeared on the BBC, NPR, and Al-Jazeera and her work has been translated into fifteen languages. The African Women's Development Fund named Patel one of Fifty Inspirational African Feminists. She represented Kenya at the London Olympics Poetry Parnassus.


Wang_Ping_afton_by_YujianWang Ping was born in Shanghai and came to USA in 1986. She is the founder and director of the Kinship of Rivers project, which builds a sense of kinship among the people who live along the Mississippi and Yangtze Rivers through exchanging gifts of art, poetry, stories, music, dance and food. Publications include short story collections, novels, and the poetry collections Of Flesh and Spirit and The Magic Whip, as well as Flash Cards: Poems by Yu Jian, co-translated with Ron Padgett. Aching for Beauty: Footbinding in China won the Eugene Kayden Award for the Best Book in Humanities. Wang Ping has had many multi-media exhibitions and collaborated with the British filmmaker Isaac Julien on Ten Thousand Waves, a film installation about the illegal Chinese immigration in London. She is the recipient of National Endowment for the Arts, New York Foundation for the Arts, New York State Council of the Arts, Minnesota State Arts Board, the Bush Artist Fellowship, Lannan Foundation Fellowship, Vermont Studio Center Fellowship, and the McKnight Artist Fellowship. She is also the author of The Last Communist Virgin (Coffee House Press, 2007).


Claudia_Rankine_by_John_LucasClaudia Rankine is the author of four collections of poetry, including the award-winning Nothing in Nature is Private. In The End of the Alphabet and Plot, she welds the cerebral and the spiritual, the sensual and the grotesque. Her latest book, Don't Let Me Be Lonely—a multi-genre project that blends poetry, essays, and image—is an experimental and deeply personal exploration of the condition of fragmented selfhood in contemporary America. Rankine is also the author of a play, Provenance of Beauty: A South Bronx Travelogue, which is performed on a bus ride through the Bronx. She is also the founder of the OPEN LETTERPROJECT: Race and the Creative Imagination, and co-produces a video series, "The Situation," alongside John Lucas. Rankine co-edited the anthology American Women Poets in the 21st Century: Where Lyric Meets Language, American Poets in the 21st Century: The New Poetics, and Eleven More American Women Poets in the 21st Century-. Her latest book, Citizen: An American Lyric, is due out from Graywolf in October 2014.


Tim Seibles headshotTim Seibles is the author of several poetry collections including Hurdy-Gurdy, Hammerlock, and Buffalo Head Solos. His first book, Body Moves (1988), has just been re-released by Carnegie Mellon U. Press as part of their Contemporary Classics series. His latest, Fast Animal, was a finalist for the 2012 National Book Award. Seibles has been poet-in-residence at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, PA and received a fellowship from the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center in Massachusetts. A National Endowment for the Arts fellow, Seibles’ poetry is featured in several anthologies, including Rainbow Darkness; The Manthology; Autumn House Contemporary American Poetry; Black Nature; Evensong; Villanelles; and Sunken Garden Poetry. He has been a workshop leader for Cave Canem and for the Hurston/Wright Foundation. Seibles is visiting faculty at the Stonecoast MFA in Writing Program sponsored by the University of Southern Maine.  He lives in Norfolk, VA, where he is a member of the English and MFA in writing faculty at Old Dominion University.


Myra_Sklarew photoMyra Sklarew is the author of poetry, fiction, science essays, and research studies. Her numerous collections of poetry include Lithuania: New & Selected Poems, The Witness Trees, Harmless, and If You Want to Live Forever. She is co-editor of The Junk Dealer’s Daughter, The Journey of Child Development and has a forthcoming book: A Survivor Named Trauma: Holocaust and the Construction of Memory. Her poems are housed in the Contemporary Poets Archive at the Library of Congress. Honors include the PEN Syndicated Fiction Award and the National Jewish Book Council Award in Poetry. Sklarew was the founding director of the MFA Program in Creative Writing at American University and is professor emerita of literature. From 1987 to 1991, she served as president of the Yaddo artist community. She is a founding board member of The Writer’s Center in Bethesda, MD, and currently serves on the advisory board of Furious Flower Poetry Center at James Madison University and The Center for Israeli Studies at American University.  She is also a key organizer of “A Splendid Wake,” a documentation project of poets and poetry activities in DC from 1900 to the present.


Danez_in_blue_photo_by_Paul_Baker_PrindleDanez Smith is a Cave Canem Fellow, Pushcart Nominee, Survivor & Black Queer from St. Paul, MN. Danez was featured in The Academy of American Poets’ Emerging Poets Series by Patricia Smith & was a finalist for the 2013 Rattle Poetry Prize. Danez is the author of hands on ya knees, a chapbook published by Penmanship Books. His full-length collection, ‘[insert] Boy, will be published in 2014 by Yes Yes Books. His writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Poetry Magazine, Ploughshares, Devil’s Lake, The Cortland Review, Anti-, & elsewhere. Danez started writing because of slams & necessity, & placed 6th in the world at the 2011 Individual World Poetry Slam & is the 2013 Rustbelt Midwest Regional Slam Champion. Danez twerks with the best, has no time for the rest. He writes & lives in Oakland, CA.


Anne_Waldman headshotAnne Waldman is the author of more than 40 books of poetry and poetics, and an active member of the Outrider experimental poetry movement,  a culture she has helped create and nurture for over four decades as writer, editor, teacher, performer, magpie scholar, infra-structure curator, and cultural/political activist. Her poetry is recognized in the lineage of Whitman and Ginsberg, and in the Beat, New York School, and Black Mountain trajectories of the New American Poetry. Her publications include Fast Speaking Woman (1975), Marriage: A Sentence (2000), Civil Disobediences: Poetics and Politics in Action (2004), Beats at Naropa (2009), Gossamurmur (2013)and the multi-volume Iovis project (1992, 1993, 1997). Waldman is a recipient of a 2013 Guggenheim Fellowship and the Poetry Society of America’s Shelley Memorial Award and has recently been appointed a Chancellor of The Academy of American Poets. She was one of the founders and directors of The Poetry Project at St. Marks’s Church and she co-founded with Allen Ginsberg the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa University, where she is a Distinguished Professor of Poetics. She was active in Occupy Art, an offshoot of Occupy Wall Street in NYC, and has recently been involved in projects around the theme of Symbiosis, which studies the interaction between two or more different biological species.