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Poetry, Activism and Truth: Split This Rock Poetry Festival

April 3, 2014

Kateema Lee, PR associate editor and poet, attended the Split This Rock Poetry Festival and had this to say about the event:

 

Tim Seibles reading "One Turn Around the Sun"

Tim Seibles reading “One Turn Around the Sun”

Last week, I had the pleasure of attending my first Split This Rock Festival in Washington D.C. Split This Rock, named after lines from Langston Hughes’ poem “Big Buddy,” is a nonprofit organization that merges the power of poetry with the power of activism to effect change. From Whitman to Adrienne Rich to Amiri Baraka, poems of provocation have a firm, purposeful place in history, and Split This Rock is working, through the festival and various programs throughout the year, to carry on the tradition. The festival included evocative panels, interactive workshops, and provocative readings. Also, continuing with the tradition of poets as “truth tellers,” each morning poets raised their voices with poems of protest, expressing various truths at Lafeyette Park near 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. There were many highlights, but some of the especially inspirational moments were listening to the amazing voices of DC Youth Slam Team members, experiencing the awe-inspiring work of Tim Seibles, Yusef Komunyakka, Claudia Rankine, Eduardo C. Corral, and Franny Choi, and interacting with poets from around the country. I left the festival renewed. Here are a few powerful poems that may inspire you to help make change happen:

“Situation 5” and “Situation 6” by Claudia Rankine

“In Colorado My Father Scoured and Stacked Dishes” by Edward C. Corral

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