The following is an excerpt of an upcoming article by E. Ethelbert Miller in The Nation. The full preview of the article, which will appear in the March 15 edition, is available here.
The first Split This Rock Poetry Festival was held in 2008. I was a participant, along with poets like Martín Espada and Naomi Shihab Nye. I consider us to be believers in the expression of speaking truth to power. On the last day of the festival a number of writers walked down to the White House to protest the war in Iraq. I'm certain that poets visiting Washington in March will have something to say about the foreign policy of the Obama administration and the war in Afghanistan. Our poems--and yes, our chants--always seem to be on call. Once again, our New Year's resolutions contained prayers for peace. The year 2010 represents not just the start of a new year but also the beginning of a new decade. Might it be a prelude to the "terrible teens" of this century? If so, what might poets and writers be doing? What do the times demand?