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2014 Split This Rock Poetry Festival


To everyone that made the 2014 Split This Rock Poetry Festival one for the books--what an amazing four days of poetry and activism. Thank you for showing up, for sharing your spirit and your words, for participating in so many necessary and important conversations, for listening. We are humbled and energized from this gathering and look forward to 2016!

In the meantime...


2014 Festival Flyer

Welcome Letter from the 2014 Festival's Program Book

Dear Friend,

The pioneering poet and activist Adrienne Rich, who died just a few days after the last Split This Rock Poetry Festival, wrote: 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.”

But our world cries out for alternatives. The mad pursuit of material gain; the insane wealth hoarded by so few while so many live in dire poverty; our young men mowed down by vicious racism; our precious home, the earth, despoiled by greed. Meanwhile, those who benefit from the status quo use war and surveillance and fear to manipulate and dominate, in the hope that nothing will change.

But change is coming. Arundhati Roy tells us, “Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.” That breath is poetry.

Split This Rock is proud to welcome you to Washington, DC, for the fourth Split This Rock Poetry Festival, presenting and celebrating the poetry that is so essential to our culture, to our desperate planet. Together we proclaim our voices, trumpet our poems. Get ready for four incredible days of readings, discussion, learning from one another, building connections, listening to the prophetic voices of our youth, and speaking out for justice.

On Friday morning, 10 am, we’ll take our poetry to the White House and demand that our government dismantle the surveillance state. For poets, especially, know the corrosive effect on the imagination – the birthright of all – of being constantly and secretly watched and told to spy on our neighbors. Bring a line of poetry to join the action. Details on page [insert Page #].

Past festivals have been held in the historic U Street neighborhood, the center of 20th century African American cultural life. There, poet-activists – including Langston Hughes, Split This Rock’s patron saint – lived, wrote, organized, and gathered. We invite you to head there to explore and to check out Busboys and Poets, at 14th & V Streets, NW. The Friday night open mic will take place in the restaurant’s Langston Room; while there, you can browse the Teaching for Change bookstore, where you’ll find a wide array of books that speak to social justice. Thursday’s open mic will take place at another Busboys and Poets location, at 5th & K Streets, NW.

Surely we live in a golden age of American poetry. It is the poets of provocation and witness who are at the center of this new vibrancy, leading the way. We’re pleased to say that the world of establishment poetry is beginning to catch up. All of the poems in the March issue of Poetry magazine, available for sale at registration and at the featured readings, are by the poets featured at this Split This Rock Poetry Festival!

Amiri Baraka, poet of power who joined the ancestors in January, wrote:

When all over the planet, men and women, with heat in
their hands, demand that
be planned to include the lives and self determination of all the
people ever to live. That is the scalding scenario with a cast of
just under two billion that they dare not even whisper. Its called,
“We Want It All . . . The Whole World!”

Welcome to Split This Rock Poetry Festival, where we stand together, with our poems, demanding it all!

- The Split This Rock Team