Tuesday, June 30, 2009

2010 Poets and Contest Winners Announced!

Split This Rock Poetry Festival, March 10-13, 2010, will feature a diverse array of some of the finest poets writing at the intersection of imagination and social change.

Featured at Split This Rock's second festival will be Chris Abani, Lillian Allen (pictured), Sinan Antoon, Francisco Aragón, Jan Beatty, Martha Collins, Cornelius Eady, Martín Espada, Andrea Gibson, Allison Hedge Coke, Natalie Illum, Fady Joudah, Toni Asante Lightfoot, Richard McCann, Jeffrey McDaniel, Lenelle Moïse, Nancy Morejón, Mark Nowak, Wang Ping, Patricia Smith, A.B. Spellman, Arthur Sze, and Bruce Weigl.

As usual, diversity of all kinds is a top priority at Split This Rock. As at the first festival, Split This Rock 2010 will feature performance poets, experimental poets, lyrical poets, and narrative poets. Poets of color are in the majority. There are gay and lesbian poets, poets of working-class origin, and poets with disabilities. The list includes international voices, with poets from Canada, Cuba, Nigeria, Iraq, and China, as well as DC poets who write and work in our own community. And we're pleased to bring back two popular poets from the first festival, Martín Espada and Patricia Smith.

All 23 of these poets are in the world, are poet-citizens in a variety of ways. Lillian Allen is an originator of dub poetry and a leader on diversity and culture in Canada. Fady Joudah was a field doctor with Doctors Without Borders. Cornelius Eady is a founder of Cave Canem, the organization for African American poets. Jan Beatty has worked as a welfare caseworker and an abortion counselor. Mark Nowak facilitates "poetry dialogues" with Ford autoworkers in the US and South Africa. These are just a few examples. Check out the website for more on these critical voices.

We'll also be profiling them and reviewing their books on Blog This Rock in the coming months, so keep an eye out here.

Save the date: March 10-13, 2010. This is a festival you won't want to miss!

2009 Split This Rock Poetry Contest Results

First Place: "River, Page" written by Teresa J. Scollon, Traverse City, MI.

Second Place:
"The Center for the Intrepid" by Jenny Browne, San Antonio, Texas.

Third Place: "Femincide/ Fimicidio- The Murdered and Disappeared Women of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico" by Demetrice Anntia Worley, Peoria, Illinois.

We are very grateful to this year's judge Patricia Smith and to all who supported Split This Rock by entering the contest. The competition was tough - it is heartening to see the poets continuing to write their poems for a better world. Thank you.

The winning poems will be posted soon on Split This Rock's web site. Stay tuned!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Get a Personalized Poem from Workshop Leader and Poet, Lorna Dee Cervantes

On Sunday, the wonderful Lorna Dee Cervantes read some of her works at Sunday Kind of Love. As she read, she mentioned an ongoing project, born out of creativity and necessity (as she says on her website, "desperate times require desperate measures, require love"). The project involves writing love poems for strangers, bringing to mind Cyrano, the letter-writers of ancient China, and others gifted with language who use it to bring love and joy to others. As she read examples of the work the project had inspired, Lorna referred to it as "poetry busking," and the idea is simple: provide her with some information, and she will write a 100 word love poem for you. For a small fee of course (this includes a signed copy). The necessary information, as well as contact information is below. If you want to know more about Lorna, visit her blog, or even better, come to the workshop she's leading at the Institute for Policy Studies tomorrow (see link for more information).

Send the following information to lornadeecervantes [at] mac [dot] com to receive an original poem:

My name is:
My email is:
My address is:

I'll pay ($10+) ________ for a poem in (any style) ________ or __________.

I'll get it by email or I'll add $5 and get it by email and print.

I want a poem: for me, for my love, to our love (You can also have poems written for family members and friends).

I want a poem for _____________ that expresses _________________________________.

Once you've got all that filled out, provide some inspiration and insight:

Some words:
Some sounds:
Some sights/images:
Some tastes:
Some feelings, including tactile:

Help support Lorna and poetry, and show your love for someone important with an amazing gift.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Last Call For Panel Proposals!

Call for Proposals: Split This Rock Poetry Festival 2010

Split This Rock Poetry Festival: Poems of Provocation & Witness invites poets, writers, activists, and all concerned citizens to Washington, DC, March 10-13, 2010 for four days of poetry, community building, and creative transformation as our country continues to grapple with two wars, a crippling economic crisis, and other social and environmental ills.

We invite you to send proposals for panel discussions, group readings, roundtable discussions, workshops, and small-scale performances on a range of topics at the intersection of poetry and social change. Possibilities are endless. Challenge us.

The deadline is JUNE 30, 2009.

Last years panels included:
Crip Poetry: A Culture of Disability, Justice and Art

A Panel By Kathi Wolfe, Chris Bell, Petra Kuppers, Stephen Kuusisto

Nothing is more connected to poetry than the body–(with its limitations and joys) and the body politic–the intersection of the personal with social justice issues (from peace to race to LGBT). This is especially true for disability culture (crip) poets who write out of their own experience of disability (in relation to their own bodies) and to the body politic (to disability as a social construct). The panel will be a lively discussion, focused on these questions: How does disability intersect with other political issues? How do a passion for social justice and experience with disability help to create memorable, well-crafted poems?

Writing Isn't Lonely: Collaborative Writing Workshop

Susan Tichy, Eleanor Graves, Danika Myers

If our politics are communal, why do so many poems celebrate the individual voice? If poetry is about discovery, not certainty, what happens when we have "a message"? How can we write politically while preserving complexity in our language and thought? Techniques of collage can move "the message" away from content and into the poem's process. We become makers of our poems, not their sole speaker, and the whole world of language becomes our material. This workshop will take you through collaborative exercises focused on speaking truth where truth is not evident.

Writing Down the Walls: Poetry in Prison

Shelley Savren, Jimmy Santiago Baca, Clarinda Harriss, Walter Lomax, John Mingo, Kyes Stevens

Poets who have conducted writing workshops in prisons (and/or in juvenile justice facilities) will discuss their experiences working with inmates – the challenges of the system, the successes of the workshops and the disappointments. They will examine the importance of reaching this population through poetry and whether or not writing empowered the participants or brought about change. Joining the panel will be inmates who participated in poetry writing workshops and/or wrote poetry while incarcerated. They will discuss the effects of writing poetry in a hostile environment and will explore how the act of writing poems enabled them to change their lives or at least survive behind prison walls.

Details and guidelines are online here(splitthisrock.org/documents/2010_panel_proposals.doc).

Discussion and community building are at the heart of Split This Rock. We value diversity, creativity, and new ideas. Check out last year's schedule for inspiration.

Please join us!

Help Spread the Word

Forward this post, re-post it on your blog, send a message to all your Facebook friends. We are a grassroots movement and need your help to reach a wide variety of poets and poetry lovers. Thanks!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Calling All Artists: A Call for Submissions

Calling All Artists:
Submit your artwork for a chance to participate in
the upcoming
This Is My House
Art Exhibition hosted by:
Housing Counseling Services, Inc.

Purpose/Theme: Artists are asked to send submissions that are concerned with or speak to housing disparity/discrimination and the complications that arise. To raise awareness in the minds of artists and the community at large of how housing discrimination affects all aspects of our lives, from who we are and where we live to the opportunities we have and the future that lies ahead.

Participants: Artists of all ages and styles are encouraged to participate and send submissions. Younger artists are encouraged to speak with parents, grandparents and older relatives about housing obstacles they have faced and the outcomes, both good and bad of those experiences.

Submissions: All nature of art will be welcomed provided it highlights the theme in an open and thoughtful manner. Examples of art include but are not limited to:
Performance Art: Poetry, Music, Drama, etc.
Visual Art: Photography, Painting, Sculpture, etc.

*Do not send original material. Photographs of visual artwork and copies of written
material only. HCS will neither return nor be responsible for damage or loss of
original material submitted.

Dates and Deadlines: All submissions must be received no later than July 15th, 2009.

Selected artists will be invited to perform or display art work in August at a public exhibition entitled: “This Is My House”

Submissions should be sent to:
Housing Counseling Services, Inc.
2410 17th street NW #100
Washington, D.C. 20009
Attn. Seth Lawler
More information: Contact Seth Lawler, at sethlawler@housingetc.org or call

HCS is a non-profit 501(c) 3 organization founded in 1972 to provide comprehensive housing counseling, training, advocacy, technical assistance and housing opportunities for low and moderate-income homebuyers, homeowners, and tenants; to help them achieve successful living in healthy, safe and affordable homes. HCS’s goal is to prevent homelessness and increase sustainable housing opportunities by providing the skills, self-esteem and empowerment necessary within families and communities. Further, HCS works to build the individual and group capacity for economic, physical, and social development of homes, neighborhoods and communities.

Monday, June 22, 2009

All You Can Eat Pancake Breakfast in support of Art + Media House

The Art + Media House and the Visions to Peace Project are collaborating to bring a delegation of DC youth media makers to the Allied Media Conference in Detroit Michigan this July. The Allied Media Conference is an amazing 3-day conference that brings together media-makers (in the most holistic sense of the word) and social justice activists.

They need your support to help get there!
Please come out to the All-You-Can-Eat Pancake Breakfast.

*When: Sunday June 28th, 11am - 3pm

*Where: Art + Media House, 3035 15th Street NW, Washington, DC
one block from the Columbia Heights metro station on the Green line

*How much: $10-20 suggested donation (help out however you can)

*What: Eat pancakes, and sip coffee and juice. Vegan pancakes will be served. There will also be a screening of youth produced media projects.

*For more info: Give Tennessee Watson, Media Associate at Art and Media House, a call at 202.319.2294. Art and Media House contact info can also be found here.

*If you interested in volunteering at this event please let Tennessee know. Folks are needed to help cook and serve the pancakes.

Thanks for your support!

U.S. Poets in Mexico

U.S. Poets in Mexico is pleased to announce their first annual Merida Fellowship Award for an American poet over 18 years of age. The 2010 competition will be judged by poet Tony Towle. The Merida Fellowship Award consists of full tuition for one week of poetry workshops in Merida, Yucatán, Mexico for the January 2-9, 2010 session, a reading on the same night as one of their faculty members and a visiting Mexican poet, lodging for the week, Spanish lessons and all day trips – (does not include airfare, ground transportation or meals).

Faculty for January 2010 includes Mark Doty, Anne Waldman, Martin Espada, Pedro Serrano and Cassandra Tribe. Visiting Mexican poets will be Jose Vicente Anaya, Pura Lopez Colome and Briceida Cuevas Cob (a Maya language poet).

Poetry submissions for the competition are due by November 1, 2009. The recipient will be announced on the website and notified by email on November 15, 2009. See the Apply page. Also, all accepted workshop applications will automatically be entered in the competition. Tony Towle will view poems only and not applications, resumes or names.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Slam on Indefinite Hiatus - A Note from Featured Poet Natalie Ilum

Split This Rock received the following letter yesterday from 2010 featured poet Natalie Illum. Please read.

Hello Friends,

I'd like you to take a look at the community announcement below. As many of you know, I've been attending the Baltimore slams this summer and having an amazing time. The folks who organize SLAMicide are not a only welcoming and talented group, they care about artistic development, empowerment, fun and community in a way I haven't seen.

Although I am relatively new to the slam scene, I could tell they were a family and fiercely talented to boot at the 2008 National Team Semi Finals, where they placed 6th. I wanted to be a part of that. It took me almost a year to be brave enough to try, and now it's fading.

As a long time community organizer of Mothertongue, I know how hard it is to stay afloat and find a home in venues that support and value creativity, poetry and community. Thankfully, the Black Cat hasn't given up on MT, but we have struggled with schedules, numbers, audiences, volunteers, etc. I don't even want to think about how much of my personal $ I donated over the last decade to keep something I was passionate about alive. I knew the second I gave up, people would miss what Mothertongue provides. I fear the same will happen with SLAMicide.

I have not spoken to the organizers about their intentions. But, I know the decision to put the series on hold was a hard one. I'm not even an official member of the 2010 team, because the season hasn't started yet. I know that the venue issues caused Baltimore not to be able to send a team to the finals in August 2009.

I know I will miss the opportunity to strengthen my slam voice and my ties to this community. I know there is a quality difference to this team that I want to be a part of, and/or help them share their words. I believe the Slamicide community still has a lot to say. I certainly will have trouble finding a slam home that has their level of compassion and creativity. But, that is a personal struggle.

SO, I am asking you as community organizers and friends to throw your support behind them. At the very least, let's show up to this weekend's last slam and give them a sendoff to remember. And, come watch me compete for IWPS through tears ...

Show up if you ever wanted to see me slam with Baltimore, because we may not get another chance! As my beloved Joni says, don't it always seem to go, you don't know what you've got til its gone.

Lastly, I'd like to help them recoup some $$ loses. So, if you can, please donate any amount to the paypal link on their website, http://www.slamicide.com/index.html [or email granmadave {at} yahoo.com]. Ironically, I have just finished a grant which ear marked $500 towards Slamicide expenses, which I will donate if I receive the grant, but that may not happen at all, or come too late to help the team compete.

If you can think of any other means of help, please [comment with contact info to be put in touch with Natalie or SLAMicide].

It's not too late. And by helping them, you help me stay present and focused on my purpose and the good in this life.

Thank you.
and salt,


A Note from Split This Rock: SLAMicide is a vital resource for poetic voices in the area. Please help support this great organization. Image credit: SLAMicide.com

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Sunday Kind of Love This Sunday June 21

Return to Sunday Kind of Love on the first day of summer in the Langston Room at Busboys and Poets at 14th and V NW this Sunday, June 21, 4 - 6 p.m.

This reading will feature Lorna Dee Cervantes, Alice B. Fogel, and Reb Livingston.

Lorna Dee Cervantes is the author of DRIVE: The First Quartet (Wing Press, 2006) and From the Cables of Genocide: Poems on Love and Hunger (Arte Público Press, 1991) and Emplumada(1981), which won an American Book Award. Her work has been included in many anthologies including Unsettling America: An Anthology of Contemporary Multicultural Poetry (eds. Maria Mazziotti Gillan and Jennifer Gillan, 1994), No More Masks! An Anthology of Twentieth-Century Women Poets (ed. Florence Howe, 1993), and After Aztlan: Latino Poets of the Nineties (ed. Ray González, 1992). In 1995 she received a Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Writers' Award. She is also leading a workshop on Saturday the 27th. Register by emailing melissa.dcpaw [at] gmail.com. Also, check out the FaceBook event page

* Alice B. Fogel is the author of Be That Empty(Harbor Mountain Press, 2007), I Love This Dark World (Zoland, 1996) and Elemental, Zoland Books (Cambridge, 1993). Her poems have been anthologized in The Best American Poetry, Poets Choice, and many other anthologies. She teaches at the University of New Hampshire.

Reb Livingston is the author of Your Ten Favorite Words (Coconut Books, 2007), Pterodactyls Soar Again (Whole Coconut Chapbook Series, 2006), co-author of Wanton Textiles (No Tell Books, 2006) and co-editor of The Bedside Guide to No Tell Motel anthology series. Her work has appeared in The Best American Poetry, American Poetry Review, and other publications. She's also the editor of No Tell Motel and publisher of No Tell Books.

*Photo credit John Clarke Russ

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Upcoming Events for Provisions

Provisions is a research and development center at the intersection of arts and social change. Programs are made possible with support from The Nathan Cummings Foundation, The Andy Warhol Foundation, CrossCurrents Foundation, The Tides Foundation, Gaea Foundation, DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, The Creative Communities Fund of The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, The Humanities Council of Washington DC, Arca Foundation, The Angelina Fund, and individual donors. Provisions has been recognized as an exemplary organization by the Catalogue for Philanthropy. The contact info for provisions is included at the bottom of this post.

Close Encounters 2: Acts of Social Imagination

Don't miss Provisions' latest exhibit at Nathan Cummings Foundation in NYC through August 28th.

Opening Reception, Thursday, June 25th, 6-8pm
Nathan Cummings Foundation
475 10th Avenue, 14th Floor
RSVP and to view by appointment: 646-485-1284
Live music, performance, food and drink

Allora & Calzadilla • Cory Arcangel • Mel Chin • Annabel Daou •Jeremy Deller • Floating Lab Collective • Daniel Heyman• Jenny Holzer • Ligorano/Reese • Paul D. Miller aka DJ Spooky • Trevor Paglen • Ester Partègas • Adrian Piper • Taryn Simon


Floating Lab Collective: Scream at the Economy

Floating Lab Collective is inviting anyone and everyone to share their most instinctive expressions of survival, warnings of danger, affirmations of power, explosions of anger, and utterances of anxiety. From a recorded archive of screaming six international composers will create new symphonies which will be performed on a specially-fabricated instrument (the Screamer above) in front of deserving financial institutions.

To participate:
• Call 646-402-5686, extension 90514, 24-hours a day.
• Scream at the economy (for best results, hold the phone a few inches away from your mouth).
• Download screaming music after June 25th here.

Floating Lab is developing a series of economy-related art projects this summer, culminating in a fall exhibition at the Cafritz Art Center, Montgomery College.

Floating Lab Collective is the community arts program of Provisions Learning Project, 1875 Connecticut Avenue NW, Suite 1100, Washington, DC 20009 (202)299 0460.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Workshop Opportunity and Updates

Split This Rock and the Sunday Kind of Love reading series invite you to participate in a writing workshop with Lorna Dee Cervantes (who is reading at Sunday Kind of Love on Sunday the 21), Saturday, June 27, from 1-4 pm. Thanks to support from the DC Commission on Arts and Humanities, the cost is $25. The workshop is open to all levels of writing from beginning to advanced—and will be geared towards helping you generate new work. (Our next and final writing workshop of the season will be in August with Terrance Hayes... stay tuned for more details on that).

Register today; send an email to melissa.dcpaw@gmail.com.

Workshop Description: Ecopoetics: A Poet's Way of Knowledge

There are about as many ways to write a poem as there are people on the planet. In poetry, as in love, there are no absolutes, and that's the only absolute. So, how does one make sense of the plethora? How, when faced with the whole enchilada, does one go about the process? For poetry is a process, above all else. As Coleridge once wrote, "Poetry is the pleasurable activity of the journey itself."

In this workshop we will map out the journey by dividing the poetic universe (multiverse) into four distinct phases of the creative/critical process: GENERATION, SELECTION, Re-VISION, and CRITICAL EVALUATION. Much the way we splay out the patterns on a globe into east, south, west and north in order to get anywhere, no individual phase is more important than another and each has its own distinct character and unique phenomena. We will participate in exercises designed to match each phase of the process - rather than focus undue or premature attention upon poetry as product. We will discuss and consider many roads leading us there, to the finished poem ("finished" in the orgasmic sense rather than as executioner or, worse, as taxidermist.) We should, by the end of the day, come away with at least 4 new poems and a sense of our own patterns and patterning (for better or worse) and we will acquire a new toolbox of techniques and methods, a new confidence and playfulness, a new sense of our own strengths and weaknesses as writers, and maybe even become acquainted with our own inner critic as well as become accustomed to the sound of our voice as well as our own individual "Voice" as a poet.

Each workshop will be unique to its participants. This workshop respects all and expects such from participants. Expect diversity. Expect to learn how to pleasure yourself - so to speak.

Lorna Dee Cervantes is the author of DRIVE: The First Quartet (Wing Press, 2006), From the Cables of Genocide: Poems on Love and Hunger (Arte Público Press, 1991) and Emplumada (1981), which won an American Book Award. Her work has been included in many anthologies including Unsettling America: An Anthology of Contemporary Multicultural Poetry (eds. Maria Mazziotti Gillan and Jennifer Gillan, 1994), No More Masks! An Anthology of Twentieth-Century Women Poets (ed. Florence Howe, 1993), and After Aztlan: Latino Poets of the Nineties (ed. Ray González, 1992). In 1995 she received a Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Writers' Award.

For an update on poets reading at Artomatic, see First Person Plural, the blog of the Writer's Center.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Violence in a Scared Space: Reflections on The Shooting at the Holocaust Museum

Today's guest post is written by Joseph Ross, and has been adapted from JosephRoss.net. His bio follows.

If there are such things as sacred spaces, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is one of them. From the moment one enters, there sits an unusual quiet. To enter the museum’s galleries, you are given an identity card bearing the history of a person who entered one of the camps. You are ushered into an elevator, which echoes those of the camps. In various places, you walk through startlingly common things: a sea of shoes left by those killed in the camps, a train car which took Jews and others to the camps. You view actual concentration camp shirts marked with the yellow star, for Jews, the pink triangle, for gays, and various other emblems to distinguish the Nazi’s murderous categories.

My experience there is unlike that at any other museum. There often exists a kind of reverence. You touch the wood of a train car that once held so much suffering. You view actual shoes left by those going to the gas chambers. There is not the typical “tourist place” chatter. In moments like these, one is only left with silence.

Wednesday, there was a shooting in this very space. Of course, there are shootings everyday in America. People are killed daily in liquor stores, on street corners, in churches, mosques, and synagogues, even. While we rarely hear of murder in a museum, we cannot really be surprised.

A couple of years ago, I went to a lecture series at the Holocaust Museum, about the situation in Darfur. One warm summer evening during the lecture series, they showed slides on one of the outside walls of the Museum, all images from Darfur. It showed people’s faces mostly: the elderly, children, lots of smiles, some sorrows, kids playing games, all the human reality one would expect. A few of us stood on the sidewalk below and watched, transfixed. It was during this slide show, and prompted by the lectures, that I sought to give voice to some of what I learned. This resulted in a series of five poems called The Darfur Poems. Unconsciously, I found myself writing in the voice of one who washes and prepares dead bodies in a camp in Darfur. I was trying to find a way out of my own silence, in the face of suffering.

There is so much hatred in America, the world. There is so much misunderstanding and even at times, a deliberate desire not to understand others. There is also, of course, such easy and self-righteous access to guns that we can never be surprised by violence in this country. Not even violence in a place that seeks to say: “Never Again.”

Even we poets may be stunned to silence for a time. Yet we must work to give voice to the love that lives beneath our shocked silence. It is that voice which is truly sacred.

Joseph Ross is a poet whose work has appeared in many anthologies and journals including Poetic Voices Without Borders 1 and 2, Come Together-Imagine Peace, Poet Lore, Beltway Poetry Quarterly and The Potomac Journal. He co-edited Cut Loose the Body: An Anthology of Poems on Torture. He will be teaching in the College Writing Program at American University beginning in August 2009. His writing can be found at JosephRoss.net.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Poetry, Writing, and Leadership Opportunities for Teens

Hurston/Wright Creative Writing Workshop for Teens
Genre/Topic: Fiction, Poetry, and Play-writing
Ages: Grades 8-12
Dates: July 12-July 25 2009
Where: On the campus of the RHEMA Christian Center - Washington , DC
Sponsored in part by BOSS The Movement
Cost: $59 dollars (Register 2 students/siblings and get a 20% discount)

The Hurston/Wright Creative Writing Workshop for Teens provides new opportunities for students who are interested in creative writing to develop their writing and reading skills in a nurturing group setting that celebrates Black literature. Most importantly, this creative writing workshop will enable students to become effective communicators, a skill which will benefit them throughout their educational, and occupational careers.

For more information, including details on workshops and how to apply, visit the Hurston/Wright Foundation website

Youth Leadership Support Network and the Meridian Center Iraq Young Leaders

Genre/Topic: Leadership and Conflict Resolution
Ages: 15-17
Dates: July 1-2 2009 and July 9-10 2009
Where: Meridian Center, Washington, D.C.
Cost: No Charge

Youth Leadership Support Network and the Meridian Center Iraq Young Leaders Program will host two-day "Leadership and Conflict Resolution" workshops for 44 DC area teens and 44 teens from Iraq in two groups.

Program times run from 9am to 9pm, and full attendance is required for both days. Food will be provided.

Iraq participants are aged 15 - 17 and include participants from Baghdad, Basrah, Hillah, Erbil and Kirkuk. We hope to include teens from DC, Maryland and Virginia in this exchange. DC area teens are invited to participate in either or both workshops.

The two-day workshop will focus on conflict resolution, leadership skills, music and arts, youth media and include plenty of time for exchange and friendship.

Workshop Objectives include:

Promoting mutual understanding between the United States and the people of Iraq.

Developing civic responsibility and commitment to community development among youth.

Foster relationships among youth from different ethnic, religious, and national groups.

Introduce participants to diverse youth approaches to community development

Instill tools and techniques for individuals and group process in developing community.

To Apply:
For group/organization leaders, please contact us immediately.

Douglas Calvin
Executive Director,
Youth Leadership Support Network
lunasol [at] igc.org
(202) 316-4403

Youth Participant
Application Questions:

A. How did you hear about this program?

B. Your name, age, school, address

C. Contact information
email, phone, facebook/myspace/etc

1. Why do you want to participate in this program and what will you contribute to the program?

2. What do you want to learn during the program?

3. How will your participation affect your community?

4. What are your skills/talents/interests? Please include any performing or visual arts experience, leadership experience, youth media or other skills that you feel would contribute to this experience.

5. Please list clubs, organizations, sports and community service programs in which you are involved.
Smithsonian Young Voices Summer Poetry Workshops
Genre/Topic: Poetry
Ages: Women ages 13-19
Dates: June 22 - July 10, 2009
Where: Sackler-Freer Gallery of Asian Art (12th & Independence SW, Smithsonian Metro)
Cost: Each student will receive a stipend upon completion.

A group of young women ages 13-19 will serve as poets in residence at the Sackler-Freer Asian Art Gallery. This includes poetry and leadership workshops exploring the museum's collection and the themes of communication as an act of non-violence and women's leadership.

Interested youth must request an application at lisa.innerchild [at] gmail.com. Space is limited and applications will be reviewed & accepted on a first come first serve basis.

You do not have to be an expert poet to get a spot, you only have to be willing to participate fully in all activities and be open minded. This is a wonderful opportunity to grow as a leader and artist, meet cool new people and have LOTS OF FUN!!

For more information email lisa.innerchild [at] gmail.com, or see the Facebook page

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Upcoming Events

June 16, 6-8 p.m. Langston Room at Busboys and Poets at 14th and V N.W.
Please join Dennis Brutus, Comrade Fatso, Split This Rock, and others for a reading and celebration on Day of the African Child.

Dennis Brutus is a South African poet who was banned and imprisoned on Robben Island with Nelson Mandela and 1,000 others. Brutus was the recipient of the Langston Hughes Award in 1987 (the first non-African American to receive that award), and the first Paul Robeson Award in 1989 for "artistic excellence, political consciousness and integrity." He was a featured poet at the 2008 Split This Rock Poetry Festival.

Samm Farai Monro, better known as Comrade Fatso, is one of the most explosive and controversial acts in Southern Africa today. Comrade Fatso calls his poetry Toyi Toyi Poetry, radical street poetry that mixes Shona with English and mbira with hip hop. It's an art form that is an uprising against oppression.

June 20 1 - 4 p.m. The American Poetry Museum's Anacostia Gallery, 1922 Martin Luther King Jr Ave SE, DC . (202) 249-0253.
The American Poetry Museum will host an opening for its newest exhibition "The Washington Caravan," curated by Mig Dooley and Abdul Ali. The exhibition will feature photography and poetry to document over twenty diverse living poets who live in the DC area or whose work has both been influenced by the Capitol City . Participating poets include: Kim Roberts, E. Ethelbert Miller, Brandon Johnson, Belle Waring, Joel Diaz-Porter, Carolyn Joyner, Derrick Brown, Fred Joiner, Katy Richey, and Brian Gilmore. Admission is Free.

June 21 4 - 6 p.m. Langston Room at Busboys and Poets, at 14th and V
Return to Sunday Kind of Love on the first day of summer, featuring Lorna Dee Cervantes, Alice B. Fogel, and Reb Livingston.

Lorna Dee Cervantes is the author of DRIVE: The First Quartet (Wing Press, 2006) and From the Cables of Genocide: Poems on Love and Hunger (Arte Público Press, 1991) and Emplumada (1981), which won an American Book Award. Her work has been included in many anthologies including Unsettling America: An Anthology of Contemporary Multicultural Poetry (eds. Maria Mazziotti Gillan and Jennifer Gillan, 1994), No More Masks! An Anthology of Twentieth-Century Women Poets (ed. Florence Howe, 1993), and After Aztlan: Latino Poets of the Nineties (ed. Ray González, 1992). In 1995 she received a Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Writers' Award.

Alice B. Fogel is the author of Be That Empty (Harbor Mountain Press, 2007), I Love This Dark World (Zoland, 1996) and Elemental, Zoland Books (Cambridge, 1993). Her poems have been anthologized in The Best American Poetry, Poets Choice, and many other anthologies. She teaches at the University of New Hampshire.

Reb Livingston is the author of Your Ten Favorite Words (Coconut Books, 2007), Pterodactyls Soar Again (Whole Coconut Chapbook Series, 2006), co-author of Wanton Textiles (No Tell Books, 2006) and co-editor of The Bedside Guide to No Tell Motel anthology series. Her work has appeared in The Best American Poetry, American Poetry Review, and other publications. She's also the editor of No Tell Motel and publisher of No Tell Books.

June 23 6 - 8 p.m.Eatonville Upstairs Lounge 2121 14th St. NW
Come to a Happy Hour fundraiser for Split This Rock Poetry Festival. More details soon ... Don't miss this chance to support your favorite poetry festival and get the goods on Festival developments ..

June 30
Deadline for Panel Proposals

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Friday, June 5, 2009

Responding to Dr. Tiller's Murder

I have been thinking this week about how we, as people who love justice and love peace, respond to injustice, violence, and tragedy. On Monday, I walked to the clinic where I volunteer, carrying a thank you gift to the people who work there, and I pictured the faces of those I see weekly, with whom I laugh and gossip, and I thought: violence could strike anyone of them. For the first time since I heard of Dr. Tiller’s murder, my anger turned to fear, and I began to cry as I walked.

I volunteer at this clinic because I believe that access to health care is vital. I believe that women’s choices are private, to be made in consultation with a trusted doctor. Unfortunately, health care is not always affordable or available, leading women to clinics like the one where I volunteer to seek well-woman care, pre-natal care, contraception, STD testing, education, and abortion services. These things are legal, and may sometimes be affordable (many clinics charge on a sliding scale, and many clinics refer clients to funds that help to cover the cost of care), but walking into a women’s clinic can be a harrowing experience. Twice a week, outside the clinic where I work, there are people who will follow patients and their companions down the sidewalk, begging patients loudly not to go inside and arguing with those who disagree with them. These patient's private choices and their private health care are preceded by a gauntlet of harassment and confusion. I do the work I do because affordable health care, received in a feeling of safety, should be a right, not a privilege, and because no one should be harassed for seeking reproductive health care. Dr. Tiller, who offered services at his clinic including well-woman care, adoption services, and abortions, was harassed daily, was shot in both arms, had to live under Federal Marshall protection for many years, and had to face not only frequent vandalism but also the burning down of his clinic. He continued his work in the face of all of this because of his conviction that access to necessary, legal procedures was more important than giving in to fear.

Often, in the face of events like the murder of Dr. Tiller on Sunday, we feel impotent, enraged, and deeply grieved, and it is a challenge to react to these events and these feelings with positive steps. I’ve come to the conclusion that there are three major things we can do. The first is to speak out. Too often, the voices of extremism are the only voices heard. In the case of Dr. Tiller’s murder, the first and loudest responses came from those who had previously raged against him. The responses that are repeated throughout the media are often the ones that do not condemn the violence, but instead condemn Dr. Tiller (I am intentionally not repeating these words). Instead of accepting that these are the only voices, we must insist that our own voices be heard. As poets, writers, and artists, we can write about the effects of such events. We can create pieces that indicate the urgent realities of choosing – we can write about our own choices and our own experiences. One way to do this is to visit websites like I Am Dr. Tiller, where abortion providers and pro-choice volunteers share their stories. We can read and preform the works of others, such as the play Words of Choice, created by Cindy Cooper, a long time reproductive rights advocate. Alix Olson, a 2008 Split This Rock featured poet, is a contributing writer to the play. Putting art that speaks to the truth of these experiences into the world is one vital way to fight against violence by promoting understanding.

If you are hesitant to create words of your own, forward the responses of reproductive health providers like Planned Parenthood to your friends and family. If you see this murder being downplayed, or presented as one lone event, or as just one man’s action, write letters to your local media explaining the root causes of intimidation and harassment of women’s health clinics and their staff. If you or your friends and family members are not pro-choice, renounce and refuse to join or support those groups that engage in or tolerate extremism and violent behavior. Voice your support for actions, groups, and legislation that helps to prevent abortion via education and contraception. Finally, ask the Department of Justice and the Obama administration to enforce the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act. During the Bush administration, the task force that monitored enforcement of the FACE act was largely inactive. Insist that it be re-activated and that even minor occurrences of vandalism be investigated and procescuted.

Your voice can also be heard with your presence – attend a vigil, light a candle, hold a sign. These things are powerful visual reminders of the numbers of people who will not condone violence for political purposes. Educate yourself about the kinds of services offered by reproductive health clinics in your area, especially ones that may be facing protests. Tell others about these services and why they matter to the community.

Make your presence felt in a second way by volunteering at a local clinic or reproductive health organization. Clinics facing protest often need volunteers to do clinic defense – helping patients gain access in the most peaceful way possible. Clinics are often underfunded, and so they may have other volunteer needs. You can look up your clinic online, but the best way to get the most up to date information on what the clinic needs is to call them. As you respond to injustice by helping ensure that more justice is done, a kind of healing happens. If you can spare a few hours a week, please do (a list of local D.C. vigils and volunteer opportunities, as well as national organizations is at the end of this post).

The third way to respond to injustice is by donating, or speaking with your money. Donating is not just for those with disposable income – every dollar counts. I have heard fundraisers speak of the emotional power present in the one dollar pledge that comes from a poor student. There is no donation that is too small, and there are many places you can donate, including Medical Students for Choice, The George Tiller Memorial Abortion Fund, Planned Parenthood, and the DC Abortion Fund (for an abortion fund in your state, check out the National Network of Abortion Funds list). Remember, some of these organizations have trouble funding themselves with grants because it is politically challenging to fund a group with the word “abortion” in the name. They rely solely on donations.

After tragic and unjust events, there will always be questions and the search to place blame. There will always be a feeling of uncertainty about how to react. Speaking out, volunteering, and donating are three powerful ways to respond to any event that affects our lives, not just to this one. I encourage you to look into the organizations below and to look into organizations that support causes that are also close to your heart. Our voices and our presence are the tools we always have – use them.

More Information:
George Tiller Memorial Abortion Fund Mailing Address:
National Network of Abortion Funds
ATTN: George Tiller Memorial Abortion Fund
42 Seaverns Ave.
Boston, MA 02130

Washington Area Clinic Defense Task Force

National Abortion Federation's list of ways to get involved

Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice's Tiller Memorial

NARAL Pro-Choice America

Feministing.com's list of upcoming vigils for Dr. Tiller.

Feel free to respond in the comments with any other resources, or with links to poems or other works.

Katherine Howell is the Blog Goddess for Split This Rock Poetry Festival; she lives and writes in Washington, D.C.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Review of Naomi Ayala's latest book, This Side of Early

This Side of Early, Naomi Ayala's second book of poems, opens with a series of personal, or apparently personal, poems chronically the life of a young girl. In “Cutter,” the speaker marvels at a bat that has been sliced nearly in half with a machete. The lines ending the poem – “I studied the furry gash,/unfettered, and circled bone - /that day that death was first,/small and quick like my body.” – demonstrate Naomi’s focus on rhythm and the strength of language, as well as her ability to examine even a fraught moment for insight into the relationships and consequences that make up life. The poem deals with the wonder of life and death, as well as fear, family, and pride.

These themes are particularly poignant in light of the December 2007 death of Alexander “Sandy” Taylor, co-founder of Curbstone Press, publisher of both of Naomi’s books (her first is Wild Animals on the Moon, 1997). In a 2006 interview with New Pages , Taylor suggests that Curbstone grew out of two impulses: a desire to find “a way to contribute to the awareness of poetry” and involvement in “human rights organizations and solidarity movements and anti-racist movements.” The two, he goes on to say in the interview, are inseparable – “[t]he hunger for justice is every bit a part of our experience as love or death.”
In reading This Side of Early, I can see this philosophy clearly through the poems. Tightly woven and visually powerful, the poems that follow carry through the skill and insight promised in “Cutter.” With Naomi’s native Spanish used throughout (carefully contextualized and translated in a glossary in back), This Side of Early journeys through the stories and locations that make up the life the poems hold in such wonder.

The speakers of these poems do not simply observe, however; they engage in a kind of observation that engages with the darker, hidden sides of truth. The poems “In Adams Morgan, Two Years of Neighborhood-Wide Reconstruction Come to a Halt for the Night” and “Front Church Steps” give voice to the easily overlooked downsides of gentrification and modern, market-driven life.

This keen eye for the ignored aspects of the world around us marks This Side of Early with a sense of justice marked with a love for language and image. In Naomi’s poems, the world is a thousand small moments waiting to be teased out, each one a different truth worthy of speaking. The final poem in the book, “Crickets,” provides a powerful coda to those moments, as the speaker images life after death singing with the insects: “I want to go where it is I go/and come back singing, always, somehow.” The journey through This Side of Early ends with joy, but the stops along the path remind us that joy is not the only experience worth examination.

Buy this book online at Curbstone or at Teaching for Change

Buy this book in DC at Busboys and Poets Bookstore at 14th and V NW. All proceeds from the sale of the book at Busboys (both online and in store) go to Teaching for Change.

Katherine Howell is the Blog Goddess for Split This Rock Poetry Festival; she lives and writes in Washington, D.C.