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How Poets Are Chosen to Feature at Split This Rock Poetry Festival

Featured poets are chosen by a Curatorial Committee made up of members of Split This Rock’s staff, board of directors, and advisory committee, as well as other members of the Split This Rock community.

The Curatorial Committee solicits recommendations from past featured poets, members of Split This Rock’s Advisory Committee, and other board members and activists within the organization and the broader poetry community. Members of the committee also read widely and attend many poetry readings and performances throughout the country.

The Curatorial Committee balances many considerations when choosing poets to feature:

  • Split This Rock Poetry Festival presents up to 15 poets on its main stage.
  • The festival features poets who are among the most significant and artistically vibrant writing and performing today. They exhibit exemplary public citizenship, as activists, supporters of marginalized voices, and/or in a variety of other ways. We are interested in established poets, emerging poets, and mid-career poets whose work deserves greater attention.
  • Several featured poets will be closely associated with the Washington, DC, area, in keeping with our mission to support and promote voices local to our home community.
  • We value international perspectives and strive to include poets from outside the United States at each festival.
  • Each festival will also present one or two poets who read at an earlier festival, to ensure continuity of the spirit of the event.
  • We strive for a mix of poets that reflects the rich diversity of our country and its poetries: This diversity includes demographic considerations such as: race/ethnicity/language/ country of origin; social/economic class; age; gender and gender identity; sexual orientation; physical ability; and geography. It also includes diversity in poetic subject matter.
  • Finally, the festival strives to present poets on the same stage who represent the stylistic diversity of American poetry today, such as: lyrical, narrative, spoken word, alternative/ experimental/avant garde, elliptical, New Formalist.
  • Featured poets are asked to participate in the community of the festival, as panelists, workshop leaders, or youth mentors, in the spirit of collaboration and open-heartedness that we prize at Split This Rock.

We are always interested in learning about poets new to us and we maintain a library of books and CDs by poets who write poetry of provocation and witness. If you would like us to know about your work, please send us a recent sample at the address below.

Split This Rock
1301 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Suite 600
Washington, DC 20036

Many thanks for your interest in Split This Rock. Please contact us with questions or concerns at