Washington DC – “Poetry By and For the 99%”: The third national Split This Rock Poetry Festival: Poems of Provocation & Witness will take place March 22-25, 2012, at a variety of venues in Washington DC. Featured poets include: Alice Walker, the internationally-known author of The Color Purple; Homero Aridjis, the acclaimed Latin American poet and activist; Black Arts Movement leader Sonia Sanchez; spoken word super star Carlos Andrés Gómez; and many more. In 2010, over 500 poets and poetry lovers participated in the biennial festival, many of them traveling from across the country or around the world to attend.

The festival will present more than 60 readings, workshops, panels, roundtable discussions, youth programs, and open mics, as well as an opportunity for poetry-based activism for peace and a sustainable future. Early bird registration closes on February 22.


“Poetry has a unique role to play in social movements,” says Sarah Browning, Executive Director of Split This Rock. “It can stimulate us to think differently, to imagine alternatives to the status quo, to see with new eyes, to think with our full selves, our full humanity.”

The festival will feature some of the most visionary voices of our time, including Mexican poet and environmentalist Homero Aridjis, Native American poet Sherwin Bitsui, Kathy Engel, Carlos Andrés Gómez, Douglas Kearney, Khaled Mattawa, Rachel McKibbens, Marilyn Nelson, Naomi Shihab Nye, Jose Padua, Minnie Bruce Pratt, Kim Roberts, Sonia Sanchez, Venus Thrash, and Alice Walker. The festival will also honor and celebrate the life and legacy of poet-essayist-activist-teacher June Jordan (1936-2002).

The festival is produced by the DC-based organization Split This Rock, named for the anti-oppression poem by Langston Hughes, “Big Buddy.” As people’s movements have erupted here at home and throughout the world in response to economic inequality, political repression, and environmental degradation, the festival will consider the relationship of poets and poetry to power and to the challenges to power.

Venues for the festival include: Busboys and Poets, the go-to venue for poetry, art, and activism in Washington DC; the True Reformer Building and the Thurgood Marshall Center for Service & Heritage, historic structures in the U Street corridor; the African American Civil War Museum; and the Carlos Rosario International School in the Columbia Heights neighborhood.

Early-bird registration rates last until February 22, 2012 and are $75 and $40 for students. Scholarships are available. Tickets to Alice Walker’s reading Saturday, March 24, will be $15. All other featured readings are free and open to the public.

All Split This Rock sites are wheelchair accessible.


Get more news like this, directly in your inbox.

Subscribe to our newsletter.