For immediate release: March 29, 2016


Contact: Sarah Browning,, 202-787-5210 

Washington, DC – Split This Rock Poetry Festival: Poems of Provocation & Witness, DC’s biennial national festival, will showcase poets working at the intersection of the imagination and social change for four days during National Poetry Month, April 14-17, 2016. On April 13, 7 pm, Juan Felipe Herrera will conclude his term as the 21st Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry at the Library of Congress with a lecture titled “Pioneers of Flower and Song,” kicking off Split This Rock Poetry Festival.

The only one of its kind in the country, Split This Rock Poetry Festival includes readings, workshops, panel discussions, open mics, youth programming, and activism. Executive Director Sarah Browning says, “In the face of growing violence and bigotry, Split This Rock Festival poets speak for resistance and hope. In the face of hate, they demand that we recognize and celebrate the humanity in one another.” On Friday, April 15 festival participants will take poetry to the streets from 10 to 11 am, standing against hate and fear by sharing poems of love and welcome throughout the Farragut neighborhood.

Poetry magazine, the oldest monthly devoted to verse in the English-speaking world, has collaborated with Split This Rock, publishing a special portfolio in the April 2016 issue, with new poems by festival featured poets. The portfolio is co-edited by Poetry editor Don Share and Split This Rock Executive Director Sarah Browning, with an introduction by Browning.

Featured readings, free and open to the public, will be held in the National Geographic Auditorium, 1145 17th Street, NW, Washington, DC (entrance on M Street, NW). The venue is wheelchair accessible and all readings will include ASL interpreters. The reading schedule is as follows:

  • Thursday, April 14, 7:30 pm – Ross Gay, Aracelis Girmay, Craig Santos Perez, and 2015 Split This Rock Poetry Contest Winner Sara Brickman
  • Friday, April 15, 7:30 pm – Jennifer Bartlett, Jan Beatty, Regie Cabico, and 2016 Split This Rock Poetry Contest Winner Lauren K. Alleyne
  • Saturday, April 16, 4:30 pm – Dominique Christina, Martha Collins, Dawn Lundy Martin
  • Saturday, April 16, 8 pm – Reginald Dwayne Betts, Nikky Finney, Ocean Vuong
  • Sunday, April 17, 11:30 am – Amal Al-Jubouri, Rigoberto González, Linda Hogan

Among the most significant and artistically vibrant poets writing and performing today, the festival’s featured poets exhibit exemplary public citizenship as activists, teachers, and supporters of marginalized voices. They represent the great diversity of poets writing and performing in the United States today: poets writing in all poetic styles, poets with disabilities, men and women of many races, ethnicities, sexual orientations, ages, and social classes.

Full biographies and photographs of Split This Rock 2016 featured poets can be found at

Other free events include:

  • Social Change Bookfair, Saturday, April 16, 10 am-3:30 pm, Charles Sumner School Museum & Archives, Room 300, 1201 17th St, NW, Washington, DC.
  • Poetry Public Action, standing against hate and fear. Friday, April 15, 10-11 am; gathering at the Human Rights Campaign, 1640 Rhode Island Ave NW, Washington, DC, at 9:45 am.

Festival registrants are invited to three events at Busboys and Poets: two open mics (Thursday, April 14 at 14th & V and Friday, April 15 at 5th & K, both starting at 10 pm) and the FLO(W)TUS Party on Saturday, April 16 at 10:30 pm. The Dark Noise Collective co-hosts this festive Michelle Obama-themed event with music by DJ Mane Squeeze. The public is welcome to attend. These events are free to festival participants. Open mics are $5 at the door, cash only. Tickets to the party can be purchased in advance online at for $10.

Cost: Full festival registration costs $140. Students are $50. One-day passes are $60. The full schedule and registration are at

Locations: Festival readings will take place in the Grosvenor Auditorium of the National Geographic Museum, 1145 17th Street, NW, Washington, DC (entrance on M Street). Daytime readings, panels, and workshops will take place at the AFL-CIO, Charles Sumner School Museum & Archives, the Human Rights Campaign, the Beacon Hotel, the Institute for Policy Studies, University of California – Washington Center (UCDC) Auditorium, and Foundry United Methodist Church.

Festival Partners are Busboys and Poets, the Institute for Policy Studies, and Poetry Foundation and POETRY magazine. Upshur Street Books is the official festival bookseller.

Split This Rock Poetry Festival is made possible in part by support from the National Endowment for the Arts, the DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities, the Morris & Gwendolyn Cafritz, Compton, CrossCurrents, and Reva & David Logan Foundations, the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, and many generous individuals. Cosponsors include the AFL-CIO, Arts and Humanities Center for Synergy at the University of Maryland, Jimenez-Porter Writers House at University of Maryland, Letras Latinas at the University of Notre Dame’s Institute for Latino Studies, Poets & Writers, Spectrum of Poetic Fire/Poetry Posse, The Maryland Writer’s Association, the Beacon Hotel, and the Human Rights Campaign.

Community Sponsors include the Academy of American Poets, CantoMundo, Hurston/Wright Foundation, Kundiman, Lambda Literary, Story District, The Dodge Poetry Program/Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, The Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice at Georgetown University, Massachusetts Poetry Festival, and The Watering Hole.

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