Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Split This Rock Poetry Festival 2016 Registration is Now OPEN!

We're thrilled to announce that registration is now open for Split This Rock Poetry Festival, April 14-17, 2016!

Split This Rock Poetry Festival: Poems of Provocation & Witness 2016 invites poets, writers, activists, and dreamers to Washington, DC for four days of poetry, community building, and creative transformation. 

Featuring readings, workshops, panel discussions, youth programming, open mics, and activism, the festival offers opportunities to speak out for justice, build connection and community, and celebrate the many ways poetry can act as an agent for social change.

Click here to register today. Only $100 if you register by Februrary 14. And only $50 for students. (Presenters' rate is $85 before February 14, $100 after.)

To coincide with the festival, Split This Rock and Poetry magazine will collaborate once again to produce a special portfolio in the April 2016 issue of Poetry, with new poems by poets to be featured at Split This Rock Poetry Festival 2016. Co-edited by Poetry editor Don Share and Split This Rock Executive Director Sarah Browning, with an introduction by Browning, the portfolio will also be the focus of the magazine's monthly podcast. Poetry, founded in 1912, is the oldest monthly devoted to verse in the English-speaking world and we are grateful for their partnership. Subscribe to the magazine here.

We know it's going to be an extraordinary four days. More information is below and on the website. Please help us spread the word - scroll down for ways you can help.

We hope you'll also consider helping to make it possible for others to attend by making a donation, too. You'll be prompted on the registration page.

Thank you! We can't wait to see you in April!

In peace & poetry, 
Split This Rock


  1. Passionate voices for justice & peace - Where else are you going to hear readings by 15 of the most artistically vibrant and important poets writing today, all on the same stage? See video from 2014 on Youtube. 
  2. Need names? Here they are - Amal al-Jubouri, Jennifer Bartlett, Jan Beatty, Reginald Dwayne Betts, Regie Cabico, Dominique Christina, Martha Collins, Nikky Finney, Ross Gay, Aracelis Girmay, Rigoberto González, Linda Hogan, Dawn Lundy Martin, Craig Santos Perez, Ocean Vuong. Read more about them on our website. 
  3. Compelling conversations - Join us for panel & roundtable discussions on craft, allyship, the Middle East, the role poetry plays in the Black Lives Matter and environmental justice movements, and many more essential topics.   
  4. Workshops for your mind, body & spirit - Explore the intersections of poetry with hip hop, labor movements, liturgy, food justice, journalism, and more! Read about the workshops on our website.   
  5. Plus the U.S. Poet Laureate! - The festival begins with a special kick-off event on Wednesday April 13 at the Library of Congress with Juan Felipe Herrera. Stay tuned for details. 
  6. Group readings! - Themed group readings elevating marginalized voices focused on worker rights, eco-justice, disability, policing of brown and black bodies, the intersection of Queerness and race, and so much more. 
  7. Voices of the future - Youth poets will read, lead writing workshops, teach participants how to nurture youth voices in their own communities, and generally school the grownups on kicking ass and taking names.   
  8. Poetry in the streets - With our world crying out for equity and justice, poets will take to the streets with the imaginative and transformative power of poetry. Check out photos of the previous public action on our website.   
  9. Only $100! - That's right, all this for the early-bird rate of only $100. Register today! On February 14 the rate goes up to $140. Click here to save today.   
  10. Students are only $50 - And scholarships and group rates are available. We want everyone to be able to attend, regardless of ability to pay. Details are here! Contact info for requesting group rates listed below. 
So many more reasons, too - Meet up with old friends, make new connections in poetry and activist circles, explore and celebrate the ways that poetry can be an agent for change, read and perform at open mics, get your groove on at the Saturday evening party hosted by Dark Noise Collective & Busboys and Poets... Four days of transformative events in our nation's capital!

  • Post this announcement to your Facebook, Twitter, blog, or other social media site.
  • Send post cards to your friends and colleagues and/or leave stacks at libraries, cafes, and bookstores. Contact poetryfest@splitthisrock.org to get a stack. 
  • Are you a teacher or student? Have your institution sponsor a group of students for a special group rate. Contact Tiana at tiana@splitthisrock.org or 202-787-5268.
  • Want to sponsor? It's a great way to support the festival and get lots of visibility with leaders in the literary and social justice worlds. Visit our website for details or contact us at 202-787-5210 or poetryfest@splitthisrock.org.
  • Other ideas? Contact poetryfest@gmail.com - we'd love your help!

More info at:  www.splitthisrock.org | info@splitthisrock.org |202-787-5210  

We are grateful for the generous support of the following:

Major Partners: Busboys and Poets, The Institute for Policy Studies

Partners: The Poetry Foundation & Poetry Magazine

The festival is made possible in part by the Morris & Gwendolyn Cafritz, Compton, CrossCurrents, Reva & David Logan, and Alice Shaver Foundations, the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, the DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities, the National Endowment for the Arts, and many generous individuals. Cosponsored by the AFL-CIO, the Beacon Hotel, the Human Rights Campaign, Letras Latinas, the Jimenez-Porter Writers House at the University of Maryland, Poets & Writers, Spectrum of Poetic Fire/Poetry Posse.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Split This Rock Takes Part in 2015 Individual World Poetry Slam

Presented by The Beltway Poetry Slam and Poetry Slam Inc. (PSi), the Individual World Poetry Slam (October 7-10, 2015) is a four day poetry slam festival created by PSi giving spoken word poets the opportunity to compete outside of team competition for the title of the Individual World Poetry Slam Champion. The contenders hail from every major North American city including DC, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Vancouver, as well as countries around the world such as Australia, France, and Germany. In addition to two days of competition culminating in a grand finale of the top 12 poets, the event brings world acclaimed feature performers, poetry and performance workshops, specialty slams, open mics, and events for all ages to Washington D.C. Just a few of the many events Splitistas might be interested in include The Queer Kids Table Open Mic on Thursday, Sister Outsider: An Intersectional Conversation with Women of Color Panel & Reading on Friday, and the #BlackPoetsSpeakOut Open Mic on Saturday. For more detailed information on the IWPS schedule and poets participating in the competition, visit the IWPS website.

Split This Rock is pleased to be a sponsor & co-host to the following IWPS events:


Wednesday, October 7 | 6:30-8:15pm 
1112 16th St, NW, 6th Floor Conference Room 
Cost: FREE 
Facilitated by Robalu Gibson as seen on TVOne's Verses & Flow.

Friday, October 9 | 1-3 pm 
1112 16th St, NW, 6th Floor Conference Room
Cost: $5 (Get tickets at IWPS website) | Closest Metros: Farragut West or North
A literary craft workshop with Sarah Browning, Mahogany Browne, and Matt Gallant. Our panelists will focus on the importance and possibilities in writing for the page in a way that is authentic to the author and their voice, while exuding mastery of its conventions.


Sat., Oct. 10 | 1-3 pm | Split This Rock Office, Institute for Policy Studies 6th Floor Conference Room, 1112 16th St, NW, Suite #600, Washington, DC 20036
Cost: $5 (Get tickets at the IWPS website) | Closest Metro: Farragut West or North
The second portion of this workshop will focus on the do’s and don’ts of submissions, and how to create the best manuscript or submittable piece of work.  Participants will also have the opportunity to engage with panelists with inquiries. Panelists: Safia Elhillo, Matt Gallant, and Katy Richey.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Join Us for 3 Fabulous 100,000 Poets for Change Events featuring Mahogany L. Browne!

As part of the global celebration of poetry, art, and music's ability to promote social, environmental, and political change, Split This Rock is thrilled to join with Little Patuxent Review, Upshur Street Books, and the George Mason University Fall for the Book Festival to present three FREE events featuring Mahogany L. Browneco-founder of #BlackPoetsSpeakOut, a movement that engages Black poets and poetry in the Black Lives Matter movement. Learn more about the annual 100,000 Poets for Change celebration and other affiliated events at its website.

Photo of Mahogany Browne
Photo by Rachel Eliza Griffiths

Mahogany L. Browne bridges the gap between lyrical poets and literary emcees. Author of Smudge, she is an Urban Word NYC mentor, as seen on HBO's Brave New Voices and facilitates performance poetry and writing workshops throughout the country. Browne is also the publisher of Penmanship Books, the Nuyorican Poets Café Poetry Program Director and Friday Night Slam curator, and currently an MFA Candidate for Writing & Activism at Pratt Institute.

Get an early peek at what's in store by watching Browne perform "#blkgrlmagic" on Youtube.


The Poet's Response: A Conversation on Social Justice & Poetics
Sun., Sept. 27 | 12-1pm | Baltimore Inner Harbor | FREE  
This Baltimore Book Festival panel & poetry reading features Mahogany Browne, zakia henderson-brown, Goldie Patrick, & Laura Shovan. Co-moderated by Sarah Browning (Split This Rock) and Steven Leyva (Little Patuxent Review). Visit the Baltimore Book Festival's website for more info.

Reading at Upshur Street Books 
Sun., Sept. 27 | 6pm | 827 Upshur St. NW, DC | FREE 
Join us for poetry, light refreshments, and inspiration as Mahogany Browne shares her heart-filling poetry. Visit the Facebook event page for more info.

Reading at GMU Fall for the Book Festival 
Mon., Sept. 28 | 4:30pm | GMU - Fairfax, Virginia campus, 
Sandy Spring Bank Tent, Johnson Ctr. Plaza | FREE
Don't miss Mahogany Browne at this week-long regional festival for all ages! Read more about the event and the festival at the Fall for the Book website

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Split This Rock Interview with 2016 Festival Featured Poet Rigoberto González

First in a series of interviews with poets to be featured at Split This Rock Poetry Festival: Poems of Provocation & Witness, 2016

by M. F. Simone Roberts, Poetry & Social Justice Fellow

Rigoberto González, author of 17 books of prose and poetry and avid book reviewer, has graciously agreed to judge Split This Rock’s 2016 Poetry Contest. We are doubly lucky that he agreed to give a featured reading at the 2016 Poetry Festival: Poems of Provocation & Witness in April 14-17, here in DC. The poet he chooses to win the 2016 contest will also read at the festival during one of our free poetry readings in the evenings.

Before we dive in, I want to let our readers know that I tend to wonder about what people think might be possible, even wildly imaginary, solutions or improvements to our problems. I think many are fully aware of problems facing us in this time. At this point, I’m interested in where poets or advocates want to go – what their neighborhoods in the beloved community look like. Also, my frames of reference come from the avant-garde literary tradition and European philosophers. I've tried to structure some of these questions to reach from that background toward the frames of reference González presents in his poetics, and then let things happen. In this way, traditions that don't often talk to each other in public might begin to communicate.

Because we focus on poetry that witnesses for and fosters social justice, on issues that affect a wide range of communities, urgency is a primary quality. González is like many in this community of poets -- he knows he's writing to save lives, his own and many others, from the hazards of the global economic dislocation we call "illegal immigration," to the particular menace US society presents to queer people, and people of color, and queer people of color, to the deeply dysfunctional relationship between our current civilization and the natural world that supports and surpasses it. In the taut beauty of the poetry I spend my time with here at Split This Rock, there is one constant demand -- to live, to thrive.

I hope the interview that follows highlights the ways that Rigoberto González works on the side of life. I hope also that it leads you to go buy and read his poetry and fiction. I have been re-reading Unpeopled Eden and Our Lady of the Crossword, and poems on the internet -- obsessively.

* * *

Simone Roberts : If you don’t mind, we might start in the practical realm. A central element of our mission is to bring poetry back to the center of public life in the US. As Split This Rock goes forward, we’re looking for ways to enliven connections between the poetry and advocacy/activism communities, so I want to ask you about this connection or interplay in your work. What’s your dynamic between these ways of being a citizen, how do you take poetry into your activism or vice versa? Or maybe you don't?

González : As a queer person of color and an immigrant, it’s impossible not to view my writing through a political lens, and that’s exactly how it should be considered. As an artist, that is what I take to my craft—my memories, my journey thus far, my political leanings and my literary education, much of which is the work of other political voices: queer, feminist, ethnic, etc. My identity will not be separated from my imagination. One of my many concerns has been to express myself as a queer body of color, as an immigrant, to make these identities visible and voiced because there’s a dangerous sentiment out there that wants to silence those voices, make invisible those bodies. I am not afraid of declaring my work political because I have no choice. I will not hide or apologize or disguise where I am coming from, who I am. I learned this courage from the poets and writers who came before me.

SR : I'm a huge fan of your imperative that readers and writers need to read broadly. In one interview you said you tell your students to “never be caught off-guard” when someone mentions a writer. The fiction writer Carole Maso's character Ava reads "promiscuously," allows all kinds of collisions and attractions among writers, styles, periods. The point being to make literary contact with as many different kinds of people / writers / styles as you can. It’s a way of honoring differences, reading outside one’s VEN-diagram of identities and one's tradition. We have readers who will be in the know, but would you describe for others the most vital or surprising trends you see in Latino and Chicano poetry, a few writers you would like us all to drop everything and read right now?

RG : Before I discuss Latino literature and drop some names, I’d like to add that I also insist that my students read works in translation. Not only is it a good way to expand their literary map, but also to understand that American culture is one thread in an extraordinary tapestry of cultures that will enrich their education. I ask them to start with the Nobel Laureates and work their way into the various countries, continents and eras. One trend in Latino poetry that I’ve been pleased about is the growing participation of young voices whose ancestry is Central American or South American. The largest groups within the category of Latino are Chicano, Cuban and Puerto Rican, so it’s great to see writers like Javier Zamora (who was born in El Salvador but who writes in English) and Juan J. Morales (who is of Peruvian and Puerto Rican ancestry)—his book The Siren World was recently released-- and the Panamanian American poet Darrel Alejandro Holnes. Also, Maya Chinchilla, the Guatemalan American author of The Cha Cha Files: A Chapina Poética. Recently, I’ve been excited by the work of Chicana poet Natalie Scenters-Zapico (read The Verging Cities) and Puerto Rican poet Urayoán Noel’s Buzzing Hemisphere/ Rumor Hemisférico.  

SR : I was jealous of the questions Bernard Lumpkin asked you in your 2013 Lambda Literary interview – they were so good. I want to extend in a few directions from one of them having to do with identity. Lumpkin asked why Maui (the protagonist in the Mariposa Trilogy , a series of young adult novels about a young genderqueer Hispanic man) in Mariposa Gown participates in a worker’s rights demonstration, and you answered with the great point that he is not the “center of one story, he is a participant in a network of stories.” One way to go with this idea is abstract: what do you see happening with the rich trends we call “identity politics” and “intersectionality” these days, and are you encouraged by the trends you see?

RG : Yes. Because it shows we are learning from our own communities. Our communities are so endogamous that the multi-racial, multi-cultural, multi-ethnic identities are not perceived as unusual anymore. Our young people are embracing intersectional identity in ways that are so complex that they are changing the language, the literary landscape. I’m also referring to the trans and gender-fluid communities, to the Afro-Latino communities, which keep showing us that the homogeneity of any kind has always been a fallacy. I am particularly amazed by our trans communities that continue to lead despite the dangers and despite our willful ignorance. The trans communities are so far ahead of us, we need to stop and listen.     

SR : When you imagine a world that’s a good place for queer and transgender people, what are the qualities of that world?

RG : As much as we struggle for acceptance and freedom, I believe that in the end we are simply looking for that space where we can communicate, interact and even disagree without the loaded language or baggage of difference and misunderstanding. I believe that’s why the page—that beautiful place of expression—is so attractive to many of us writers. We continually create that world, we are constantly situating ourselves within it, and we hope that our reality will mirror that imagined space.

SR : I am fan of many ideas of “decentering,” of not making oneself or one’s kind the center to every other margin. One of my favorite French philosophers who works on gender implores her readers to each have our own Copernican Revolution and stop imagining ourselves as the Earth before we understood we go around the Sun. So, another direction to take this question is less abstract: who are authors, or works, you’ve encountered who are good at writing in or through their many stories? At decentering, or making more complex the expression of their identity?
RG : The Chinana writers Alma Luz Villanueva, Helena María Viramontes and Denise Chávez immediately come to mind. Their fictional narratives are richly layered with multiple perspectives so that everyone has a voice and the result is this collective of experiences that teach us how, even in shared space, within the same community, there are multiple planes of being. In poetry, I have to single out the poet Ai, one of my early champions and also a significant literary influence. She never wrote autobiographical poems, but that didn’t mean she didn’t write about herself. Instead, she looked at the struggles, anxieties and demons of her creations as a way to understand the contexts of her own curiosities and questions. And like I noted earlier: translation is always an excellent way to decenter the self as an American identity. There’s no better passport than a book in translation.
SR : The imagery in Unpeopled Eden relates to this question of expanded identity. It’s written in the voices of dead and the “dead” -- people who are marginalized. Especially in poems like "La Pelona as Birdwoman," the starkness, the violence of it remind me of Arthur Rimbaud, a 19th century French poet who came from the provinces and the working class, was queer, and who wrote from perspectives and in voices that French poetry had never heard before. Also, neither of you offer any warning, or explanatory apparatus. This jarring language is the language for the world of these poems, which is not the world the readers know. Both you and Rimbaud insist readers either learn that language or remain strangers. They’re poems that are secure in their “otherness.”

... I've taken
all the antifreeze.
A puddle thick with red--

she'll kneel
next to my wounds
and pray for me,

a string of pigeon skulls
her rosary.
By dawn our bone pieta

breaks out of its shadow,
unleashes its cicada cry.

Like Rimbaud’s A Season in Hell, this is a journey to realms where the living, or those who make themselves unavailable to trouble, grief, cruelty, to cannot go. This isn’t about influence. I wonder about the capacity of your language in this book. You've built a language for yourself that, like Rimbaud's but in a contemporary way, slams loss and love and violence and grief and sex and beauty and fragility all right next each other -- it's how your poetry arrives at its own realism. When did you feel this style or voice coming to you in your poetry, and was it surprising? For you, how do you feel it interacts with what's real, whether that's the radical insecurity of the migra or the half-life of people who live too close to death?

RG : I’m quite pleased that you responded to the language of the book because it required so much labor to achieve. Another way to think about the dead (who are not dead) is through my preferred trope: ghosts. In many ethnic cultures, ghosts are the manifestations of those things mysterious, unresolved, of those relationships unreconciled, things left unsaid and undone, that haunt us for life. I frequently explore death in my work and I wanted to find another way to sift through the rubble. Unpeopled Eden was a particularly difficult book to write because what haunted me was my father’s death. I am currently writing a third book about my relationship with my father, not because I want answers, but because I want to understand what happened. I knew then that I need to speak about our relationship in a language that communicated with the ghost of my father’s presence and absence in my life. I gathered the images, the shards and fragments, and pieced them together, like that string of pigeon skulls that make a rosary.  I kept at it, gathering and weaving, until this imagined world, this surreal landscape became real—the place where my father and I could meet, two beings from different planes of existence (what we had always been, even while he was alive), and talk.

SR : This one's a little more complicated, but still on the identity-difference theme. Buddhists think of the self as a practice or a collection of activities or habits that can be changed (though not easily). A handful of Western philosophers (without Buddhism) have attempted to shift or open their collection of habits in really brutal ways. Rimbaud promoted a “derangement of the senses." He meant to sort of shake and reorder his physical senses, but also his sense of meaning. He lived in a time of huge social and economic change, and wanted to make himself over, and to write poetry in completely new ways. He was also very confrontational in relation to “tradition” and class and the kinds of politeness that choke down change.  

In the 20th century, this kind of thing gets to be a normal method and takes on very political overtones. The Situationist International used détournment (loosely: flipping the script, culture jamming) and dérive (loosely: drifting through social or public spaces with vastly different vibes) to challenge common expectations of a capitalist society and imagine other ways of being and doing. But, détournment doesn't just mean looking critically at the world. It means engaging with it in really disruptive ways that force the mind and body, and other people, to engage with, say, a clothing boutique or a residential urban street, or a fancy restaurant in unconventional, even violent ways. Ideally, this process eventually affects “the system.” These are possibly self-harming methods, and often involved drugs like mescaline or LSD. But, Rimbaud and others in this line thought of these brutal practices as almost spiritual kinds of re-shaping a self, re-making the world.

Certainly, reading can be a gentler kind of mental unsettling and shuffling. I wonder if you think about practices for opening up more elements of ourselves, or opening to other kinds of people or the world that might benefit individuals? And, how you feel those ways of being open "scale up" or might be tweaked for various communities in the US? I mean, beyond reading. Is it possible that we need something more radical than what we've tried before?

RG : If we’re now moving into the social sphere, then the alternative is a shift in leadership and release of control of the dominant narrative. In the U.S., whiteness is still the center. Heteronormativity is still the center. Those two elements are being unsettled because there are hostile and vocal reactions to what assumes a position of power or visibility that does not fit the desired profile—hello, Obama, hello gay marriage. But to bring it closer to home, let’s consider the growth of the Latino population in the U.S., and how the representation in politics is growing, but not sizeable—not yet. That fear, of the browning of America, is what’s bringing to the forefront all of these racist political candidates who are enabling racist reactions to a group that, tough cookies, is here to stay, and grow and grow and grow. What should be happening is communication, not pushback, otherwise whiteness will continue to be perceived as an obstacle, not a potential collaborator or ally, which will only bring more conflict and strife. But I don’t want to come across as simplistic by saying representation and inclusion are key (though they are necessary). Rather, I think we need to challenge all those binaries, move away from the black or white world, from the this or thats of our everyday interactions. This is where I place my faith on the young. As digital natives, as a population that is experiencing the complicated world during their formative years, it is they who will show us how it’s done. So instead of singling out class, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, race, let me celebrate the guidance of the young who must live with the damage the rest of us have made. We owe these young people so many apologies. Yet I am inspired by them—they will have helped us reconfigure, reimagine, rethink our world. So that’s a long-winded way of saying, I am not sure I have the answer to your question, but I am positive the next generation will be more useful than I have been.  

SR :  I want to ask you a handful of questions about the writer's life. You mentioned in your PEN Ten interview that a way writers hurt themselves is by sitting in bad chairs and slouching. Your solution was an ergonomic sitting ball, to keep your back in good alignment. You got me thinking about self-care for writers, and activists, who work on painful issues, who live in communities so pressed with grief these days. Times are always like this, sure, but I think each era is like this in its own thorny way. What do you feel is particular about this era and the self-care required to confront it? I’m thinking of state violence and the Movement for Black Lives, emboldened conservative attacks on all levels of women’s autonomy, of the terrifying violence against transgender men and women. There's a lot of exhaustion going around.

RG :  Activist fatigue, I believe it’s called, this inundation of language and imagery that keeps hammering the negative—it fuels desperation and anxiety. Social media, for all the good that it has achieved (such as empower people with the ability to disseminate information and amplify voice) also has its downside. I have been active on Twitter and I have to remind myself that this is a tool that filters and funnels, that it is only one view of the complicated world I inhabit. I imagine Facebook (which I never joined) is the same. As are the circles we run in, the social groups we cultivate. It can become so easy to narrow our own vision. That is why I have friendships and participate in activities that are somewhat removed from the political quadrant I engage in. We keep emphasizing allies, but we should keep our networks expansive, our safe spaces varied and our interactions as diverse as possible. And as much as we have become addicted to social media, it’s healthy to step away from it. I have gotten into the habit of stepping out without my phone, whenever I can. It feels heavenly.

SR : You're comfortable and accomplished in several genres. How does it go for you, feeling out which idea or kind of meaning needs to take form as fiction, or poetry, or essay?

RG : This many books later, it’s not that difficult for me to decide what platform is best for the idea that’s spinning around my mind. I know that if it’s personal it’s going to be served best by memoir; if it’s an image, it will find its home in a poem; if it’s a character, it will become fiction. There is so much overlap—I do love employing image and poetic language in prose, I do employ characters in my poetry, but that usually takes place at a different point in the writing process. In the beginning I had so many false starts, but now I usually think about it so clearly and have written so much that I know before the first word is written what it’s going to be. That doesn’t necessarily mean there will be no surprises in the writing, there always are. If there are not, it’s not worth sharing.

SR : Three closing questions. Kind of like Proust’s ten questions, but shorter. 1) What do you think of paradox and fluidity? 2) What makes you most content? 3) What's your writing snack? You've said before that you often write late at night into the wee hours. This must require sustenance. So, what does the body want when writing?

RG : 1) I prefer the term complexity, and I use it liberally, even in my conversations. I believe complexity is the most honest representation of human behavior. It doesn’t make people easier to understand, but it does allow us to acknowledge their contradictions, changes of heart, etc. No one is from another planet, no one is an alien. 2) I actually confessed to someone recently that I am most happy when I am reading, writing, or talking about books. The first two are solitary, the third is more social, but the common denominator is imagination. I am most content when I am motivated by imagination. 3) I need my protein: nuts, Greek yogurt, peanut butter, and caffeinated tea.  

Thank you, Rigoberto, for the generosity of your responses and sharing your time and mind with us. It's particularly wonderful that you shared your insight into the generations now growing into their own, and the re-imagining of life, of power, of being together happening among young queer and transgender poets and thinkers! In this time, it's good to be reminded that the radical imagination is still alive, that we will owe our queer and transgender deep gratitude going forward. All these beautiful and inevitable shifts are happening, and the old systems of symbols and power feel it, but I'm sure we can outlast them. Like your inhabitants of Mictlán we may have to become real strangers to this world, but we can outlast them. Those who cling to the old regime will be so surprised when the next era of social being is established and they find themselves so unharmed. But, thank you mostly for the sustenance of your poetry, of all your writing. The poet's who submit to our poetry contest this year are lucky to have such a poet considering their work. We look forward to hearing you read your loving and brutal poems in the spring at the festival. Be well.
* * *

Rigoberto González is author of four books of poetry, most recently Unpeopled Eden, which won the Lambda Literary Award and the Lenore Marshall Prize from the Academy of American Poets. His ten books of prose include bilingual children's books, young adult novels, and Butterfly Boy: Memories of a Chicano Mariposa, which received the American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation. He edited Camino del Sol: Fifteen Years of Latina and Latino Writing and Alurista's new Xicano Duende: A Select Anthology. The recipient of Guggenheim and NEA fellowships, the Shelley Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America, and many other accolades, he is professor of English at Rutgers-Newark, the State University of New Jersey. In 2015, he received The Bill Whitehead Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Publishing Triangle.

Visit his website to learn more: RigobertoGonzález.com.

González has given a number of great interviews. Search for them, and you won't have wasted your time. Here's a selection of interviews I found particularly powerful.

Fate of the Writer at The Rumpus

The PEN Ten at PEN American Center

Poets Forum 2014, Rigoberto González, for the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize at Academy of American Poets

Populating the Bookshelves by Bernard Lumpkin at Lambda Literary

Sitting Down at Rutgers

Spotlight on Hispanic Writers interview and reading at Library of Congress

M. F. Simone Roberts is the Poetry & Social Justice Fellow for Split This Rock. Roberts is an
independent scholar of experimental poetics and feminist phenomenology, a poet, editor, and activist. She is co-editor of the anthology Iris Murdoch and the Moral Imagination: Essays and author of the monograph A Poetics of Being-Two: Irigaray's Ethics and Post-Symbolist Poetics. Her poems are coming soon to a journal near you. Descendant of both aristocrats and serfs, she adventures this world with her consort, Adam Silverman.