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Split This Rock Poetry Festival 2020 Featured Poets

On behalf of Split This Rock and the Festival curation committee, we are thrilled to reveal the poets who will feature at Split This Rock Poetry Festival on March 26-28, 2020:

Justice Ameer

Justice Ameer in a red-striped shirt dress holding her braids with her eyes closed standing against a tan backdrop.

Justice Ameer is a poet and organizer based in Providence, Rhode Island. Xyr work explores the experience of being a Black trans woman in a post-racial and potentially post-apocalyptic America. Xeis a Pink Door fellow, FEM Slam Champion, and two-time Providence Grand Slam Champion. Justice was the Grand Marshal of the 2019 Rhode Island PrideFest. Xe is also a co-writer and producer of the theatrical production ANTHEM. Xyr work has been published in Glass Poetry Press, POETRY magazine, The Nation, and the BreakBeat Poets Vol. 2: Black Girl Magic anthology.

Photo by Ally Schmaling.






Cameron Awkward-Rich

Cameron Awkward-Rich portrait in profile facing right wearing a dark denim shirt.A poet and critic, Cameron Awkward-Rich is the author of Sympathetic Little Monster (Ricochet Editions, 2016) and Dispatch (Persea Books, 2019), winner of the 2018 Lexi Rudnitsky Editor's Choice Award. His poetry has appeared in Narrative, The Baffler, Indiana Review, Verse Daily, The Offing, and elsewhere, and he has received fellowships from Cave Canem and The Watering Hole. Cam holds a PhD in Modern Thought and Literature from Stanford University and is Assistant Professor in Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Please visit his website.

Photo by Samuel Ace.

Kimberly Blaeser

Kimberly Blaeser standing next to wrought iron arch in wooded setting.Kimberly Blaeser, writer, photographer, and scholar, served as Wisconsin Poet Laureate for 2015-16. She is the author of four poetry collections—most recently Copper Yearning and Apprenticed to Justice; and the editor of Traces in Blood, Bone, and Stone: Contemporary Ojibwe Poetry. An Indigenous activist and environmentalist from White Earth Reservation, Blaeser is a Professor at UW—Milwaukee and MFA faculty for the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe. Her work has been widely anthologized with selections also translated into Spanish, French, Norwegian, Indonesian, Chinese, and Hungarian. Her photographs, picto-poems, and ekphrastic poetry have been featured in various venues including the exhibits “Ancient Light” and “Visualizing Sovereignty.” Blaeser lives in the woods and wetlands of Lyons Township, Wisconsin and, for portions of each year, in a water-access cabin adjacent to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness chasing poems, photos, and river otters—sometimes all at once.

Photo by John Fisher.

Trevino L. Brings Plenty

Trevino L. Brings Plentyquarter turn portrait wearing glasses, a blue cardigan, and lavender button up shirt.Trevino L. Brings Plenty work has appeared in Yellow Medicine Review, Red Ink Magazine, World Literature Today, Plume, Prairie Schooner, North American Review, Waxwing, Poetry, and New Poets of Native Nations. He received his MFAin Poetry from Institute of American Indian Arts. He has two poetry collections: Wakpá Wanáǧi, Ghost River and Real Indian Junk Jewelry.

Photo by by Richard Darbonne.


Mahogany L. Browne

Mahogany L. Browne wearing a black shirt and colorful skirt standing in front of a chalkboard.Mahogany L. Browne is a writer, organizer & educator. Interim Executive Director of Urban Word NYC & Poetry Coordinator at St. Francis College. Browne has received fellowships from Agnes Gund, Air Serenbe, Cave Canem, Poets House, Mellon Research & Rauschenberg. She is the author of Woke: A Young Poets Call to Justice, Woke Baby & Black Girl Magic (Macmillan), Kissing Caskets (Yes Yes Books) & Dear Twitter (Penmanship Books). She is also the founder of Woke Baby Book Fair (a nationwide diversity literature campaign) & as an Arts for Justice grantee, is completing her first book of essays on mass incarceration, investigating its impact on women and children. She resides in Brooklyn, NY.

Photo by Daniel Terna.



Sandra Cisneros

Sandra Cisneros appears in black and white and close up and looks at the camera. Sandra Cisneros is a poet, short story writer, novelist, essayist, and visual artist whose work explores the lives of Mexicans and Mexican-Americans. Her numerous awards include NEA fellowships in both poetry and fiction, the Texas Medal of the Arts, a MacArthur Fellowship, several honorary doctorates and book awards nationally and internationally, including Chicago’s Fifth Star Award, the Texas Institute of Letters, the PEN Center USA Literary Award, the National Medal of the Arts, awarded to her by President Obama in 2016, a Ford Foundation Art of Change Fellowship, and most recently the PEN/Nabokov Award for Achievement in International Literature, 2019.  The House on Mango Street has sold over six million copies, been translated into over twenty-five languages, and is required reading in elementary, high school, and universities across the nation. Founder of awards and foundations that serve writers, she is the organizer of Los MacArturos, Latino MacArthur fellows who are community activists. A dual citizen of the United States and Mexico, Sandra Cisneros earns her living by her pen.

Photo by Keith Dannemiller.

Marilyn Chin

Marilyn Chin facing the camera wearing pink lipstick and a necklace.

Marilyn Chin is an award-winning poet. Her works have become Asian American classics and are taught internationally. Her books include-- A PORTRAIT OF THE SELF AS NATION, HARD LOVE PROVINCE, RHAPSODY IN PLAIN YELLOW, and THE PHOENIX GONE, THE TERRACE EMPTY.

Her wild girl fiction book is called REVENGE OF THE MOONCAKE VIXEN. She has won numerous awards, including the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, the United States Artist Foundation Award, the Radcliffe Institute Fellowship at Harvard, the Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship, two NEAs, the Stegner Fellowship, the PEN/Josephine Miles Award, five Pushcart Prizes, a Fulbright to Taiwan, a Lannan Award, and others.

She is featured in major anthologies, including The Norton Anthology of Modern and Contemporary Poetry, The Penguin Anthology of 20th Century American Poetry, and the PBS series The Language of Life. She serves as Professor Emerita of San Diego State University and as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.

Kyle Dargan

Profile photo of Kyle Dargan (a brown-skinned Black-American man with curly afro) looking up at the skyKyle Dargan is the author of five collections of poetry, most recently Anagnorisis (TriQuarterly/Northwestern UP, 2018), which was awarded the 2019 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize and longlisted for the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in poetry. For his work, he has received the Cave Canem Poetry Prize, the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, and grants from the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities. His books have also been finalists for the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award and the Eric Hoffer Awards Grand Prize. Dargan has partnered with the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities to produce poetry programming at the White House and Library of Congress. He's worked with and supports a number of youth writing organizations, such as 826DC, Writopia Lab, Young Writers Workshop, and the Dodge Poetry high schools program. He is currently an Associate Professor of literature and Asst. Director of creative writing at American University.

Photo by Marlene Hawthrone.


Safia Elhillo

Safia Elhillo front facing looking into camera next to a shelf full of books.Safia Elhillo is the author of The January Children (University of Nebraska Press, 2017), which received the the 2016 Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets and a 2018 Arab American Book Award, and Girls That Never Die (One World/Random House 2021), and a novel in verse forthcoming in 2021 from Make Me A World/Random House. She holds an MFA from The New School, a Cave Canem Fellowship, and a 2018 Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation. In addition to appearing widely in journals and anthologies, her work has been translated into several languages and commissioned by Under Armour and the Bavarian State Ballet. With Fatimah Asghar, she is co-editor of the anthology Halal If You Hear Me (Haymarket Books, 2019). She was listed in Forbes Africa’s 2018 “30 Under 30” and is a 2019-2021 Stegner Fellow at Stanford University.

Photo by Aris Theotokatos.



Eve L. Ewing

A black and white image of Eve smiling slightly and leaning forward so that her chin rests on her hand. She is wearing a black dress and looking directly into the camera. Her hair is dark brown and cut short.Dr. Eve L. Ewing is a sociologist of education and a writer from Chicago. She is the author, most recently, of the poetry collection 1919 and the nonfiction work Ghosts in the Schoolyard: Racism and School Closings on Chicago's South Side. Her first book, the poetry collection Electric Arches, received awards from the American Library Association and the Poetry Society of America and was named one of the year's best books by NPR and the Chicago Tribune. She is the co-author (with Nate Marshall) of the play No Blue Memories: The Life of Gwendolyn Brooks. She also writes the Champions series for Marvel Comics and previously wrote the acclaimed Ironheart series, as well as other projects. Ewing is an assistant professor at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration. Her work has been published in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The New York Times, and many other venues.

Photo by Nolis Anderson.

Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha

Leah Laksmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, a light brown skinned non-binary femme writer, looks at the viewer. She had long curly dark brown and green/teal hair with an undercut on her left side, magenta lipstick, and is wearing a black muscle t shirt with an imageof a shark rearing up out of the water on the front. She stands in a garden in South Seattle in late summer, with blooming jasmine behind her.Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha is a queer disabled nonbinary femme writer, poet, disability and transformative justice movement worker, and educator of Burgher/Tamil Sri Lankan and Irish/Roma ascent. The Lambda Award winning author of Tonguebreaker, Bridge of Flowers, Care Work: Dreaming Disability Justice, Dirty River: A Queer Femme of Color Dreaming Her Way Home, Bodymap, Love Cake, and Consensual Genocide. With Ejeris Dixon, she is the co-editor of Beyond Survival: Strategies and Stories from the Transformative Justice Movement, and with Ching-In Chen and Jai Dulani, she co-edited The Revolution Starts At Home: Confronting Intimate Violence in Activist Communities. Since 2009, she has been a lead artist with the disability justice performance collective Sins Invalid. Raised in Worcester, MA, she currently lives in South Seattle. Visit Leah's website:

Photo by Jesse Manuel Graves.


Emmy Pérez

Emmy Pérez appears outdoors in front of three red columns. She wears a black hat and a black t-shirt that reads Emmy Pérez, Texas Poet Laureate 2020, is the author of With the River on Our Face and Solstice. Her work also appears in publications such as Ghost Fishing: An Eco-Justice Poetry Anthology, Other Musics: New Latina Poetry, and What Saves Us: Poems of Empathy and Outrage in the Age of Trump. She grew up in Santa Ana, California and has lived in the Texas borderlands since the year 2000, where she co-founded Poets Against Walls in 2017. A member of the Macondo Writers’ Workshop for socially engaged writers, she has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, CantoMundo, and the New York Foundation for the Arts. She is Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and serves as Associate Director of the Center for Mexican American Studies. A collection of her New and Selected Poems is forthcoming from TCU Press in Fall 2020.


Youth Poets Laureate Azura Tyabji, Maren Wright, & Jackson Neal

Azura Tyabji wearing glasses and a black t-shirt with a colorful design standing in front of a garden.Azura Tyabji is the 2019 West Regional Youth Poet Laureate and the 2018-19 Seattle Youth Poet Laureate with Seattle Arts & Lectures' Writers in the Schools Program. She is a writer, spoken word performer, facilitator, and educator. What motivates every aspect of her artistic practice is a love for community, justice, and healing.  



Maren Wright Kerr smiling and looking into the camera wearing a purple turtleneck.Maren Wright-Kerr is the 2019 Northeast Regional Youth Poet Laureate, AKA "Lovey," is the current Baltimore Youth Poet Laureate, and the youngest to obtain this title yet. She is also the 2018 Hyper Bole winner and a member of the Baltimore City Youth Poetry Team, the current reigning international grand slam champions. At 17, Maren is a freshman in film studies at Pratt Institute and can be found on Instagram @afr0delic.


Jackson Neal sitting behind a table with elbow on the table and head resting in hand. There are stacks of books on the table and a shelf of books in the background.Jackson Neal is the 2019 Southwest Regional Youth Poet Laureate and a sophomore at the University of Wisconsin where he is a member of the First Wave Program and a three-time member of Houston’s premier youth poetry slam team, Meta-Four Houston. He is the 2018 Space City Grand Slam Champion, a 2018 National YoungArts Foundation Winner in Writing, and a U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts nominee. His writing and videos have been featured in the Houston Chronicle and Houston Public Media.