Thursday, April 23, 2020

Call for Poems of Persistence, Solidarity, and Refuge

We are each other's harvest; we are each other's business; we are each other's magnitude and bond.
― Gwendolyn Brooks

As we journey through this unprecedented global crisis, we turn to poetry to share truths that unearth its underlying causes, impact, and insistence for genuine change. For many of us, today’s challenges are not new. The struggle of isolation, economic insecurity, inadequate medical care, deadly institutionalized negligence, governmental decisions that put black, brown, indigenous, Asian, disabled, sick, and other marginalized people at greater risk are not new. Today all the world experiences the vulnerability of these unrelenting issues and a heightened awareness to how our very survival depends on one another. 

Poetry cannot solve our present challenges, but it can help keep the flame of resilience, solidarity, and resistance alive in us. It can help us process and move through grief, anger, loneliness. It can be comfort when the most necessary action is to rest and recover. It can remind us what’s at stake, that our lives and legacy are worth the fight. All things begin in the imagination and poetry gives us a tool to paint the way forward, the reasons not to return to what does not honor and protect all lives. 

We offer this Virtual Open Mic as a well from which to draw replenishing water. We invite you to pour into this communal resource. Send us your poems of affirmation, protest, and witness. Give us the words you chant to get out of bed, to raise your fist, to encourage your kin, that will remind us, as this crisis does, that “we are our each other’s business; we are each other’s magnitude and bond.” 


  • Poems will be accepted until May 15, 2020. We invite one poem per person.
  • Poems will be published on a rolling basis to Split This Rock’s blog, Blog This Rock (, to create a Virtual Open Mic.
  • We welcome poems new and old, whether previously published or not.
  • Thematically, the call is wide open. We welcome: resistance, mourning, rage, solidarity, celebration, love. We especially welcome poems of witness and challenge by people experiencing an elevated level of risk in this crisis, such as disabled, sick, D/deaf, Brown, Black, Asian, Indigenous, queer/trans, and poor people. Religious and spiritual content is allowed, but please: no religious proselytizing.
  • While we appreciate all poetic forms, Split This Rock's blog is not compatible with poems with complex or experimental formatting. Please choose your submission with this in mind. Should we find that your poem can not be properly posted, we will be in touch to request a different poem.
  • Submissions to the Virtual Open Mic that have not yet been published as text online may also be considered for Split This Rock's Poem of the Week Series. We will contact you directly if we identify your poem as one we’d like to include as a Poem of the Week.
Submitted poems will be posted at Split This Rock’s blog, pending review for harmful content. Content that might be considered harmful includes poems with language, themes, and metaphors that:

  • target marginalized groups, such as (but not limited to) D/deaf, disabled, and sick people; people of color, Indigenous people, women, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans people; people discriminated against for being from other countries, Muslim people, religious minorities, poor people, incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people, etc.
  • include slurs used to refer to groups to which the author does not belong
  • uses people’s lived experiences, such as illness and disability, as pejorative metaphors (Ex: “blind to the fact,” “deaf to the truth”) 
  • appropriate the experiences or cultures of identities the poet does not hold
  • call for violence against vulnerable people or groups

How to Submit Your Poem

Online: Send us your poem via the online Submission Form by May 15, 2020.

If the form is not accessible to you: 

  • Send your poem as an email attachment (.doc or .docx only) with the subject line “Virtual Open Mic Poem-[Your Name]” to
  • Please include the following in the body of your email: the poem's title, your name and email address, and, if the poem has been previously published online or in print, include  publication information (publication name, press name, if applicable, and year of publication). Additionally, we ask that you review the statement below and confirm your agreement with it by including this  statement in the body of your email: "I confirm originality of [YOUR POEM TITLE]."
    Confirmation of Originality Statement: Author warrants that all material submitted to Split This Rock for the Virtual Open Mic originated with the author and were created by the author except where otherwise credited. Author agrees to indemnify and hold harmless Split This Rock from any and all claims, damages, and expenses which may arise for alleged breach of author warranties associated with material to be published. The Author warrants and represents they are the sole owner of the copyright to the poem submitted for publication and have full power and authority to grant Split This Rock with the rights herein provided for.
  • For greater accessibility, please include an audio recording of your poem with your emailed submission titled with this format: [Your Name]_[Title of Poem]_Audio. Be sure to check the recording’s sound quality and consistency with the written text before you send it. To record your poem, use your cell phone, tablet, or computer to make an MP3 or MP4 file. Make your recording in a quiet place, speaking clearly and at an understandable pace. Please be sure to read the poem as it is written. Follow this script to begin your recording: “This is [Your Name] reading [Title of Your Poem] for Split This Rock.” After that, if the poem has an epigraph, state “This poem has an epigraph that reads” and read the epigraph. Then repeat the poem’s title and read the poem.


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