Friday, September 30, 2011

Poem of the Week: Melanie Graham

Split This Rock

Poem of the Week -

Melanie Graham

Melanie Graham

The Price of a Life

2011 - With veterans now accounting for one of every five suicides in the nation, the VA is under pressure from the courts and Congress to fix its mental health services in an attempt to curb the death toll. In April, 25 soldiers committed suicide, equal to about half the deaths in Afghanistan during the month.


She appears again, 2-year-old riding her hip,

grief so great he can see through her birkha, past Qualaday,

into the kitchen, his mother nurturing chicken

in popping grease. It gags him, the leg she brings-

her husband's - but that's better than the head, an empty-eyed

mask, so much of the skull left behind.

As they talk, he nods, amazed by their understanding, notices

dirt on her hem, she's been digging again, hands black,

blood rimming the nails. So much they share; even in Idaho

the earth is red. She wants to trade the leg,

asks, What will America give? The children must eat.

He shows the pictures again - what his soldiers have done -

the killing fun - says a leg is only a leg, no real proof

but thinks, at least its something,

when you think what fragmentation can do.


They walk toward the trestle, headphones block the mowing,

his father gone chore crazy, the cutting and collecting,

teeth pried from the mostly-dead, fingers squirreled away

in stiff flannel, grenades lined up like beer cans, or was it

the other way around? Every man has a beast

in the heart - feed it Kandahar Province again, a day purpled

by poppies, this widow's man, civilian kill,

detonated by a mud wall, propped up with props to justify the sport -

an AK, some rubble of blame.


$11,300, he says, is what you get
for a murdered haji
. The train is close.

The children squat beside the rail, pressing coins
onto quivering metal.
The price of a life, he thinks,

will take a long time, coin, to coin, to coin on the line.
But in the end, one step takes less than a second.

-Melanie Graham

Used by permission.

Melanie Graham is completing her final year of Ph.D. through the University of Lancaster, UK, working on a creative dissertation of poetry concerning women and violence. Her poems have most recently appeared in The Harvard Summer Review, anderbo, sweet: a literary confection, and The Southern Quarterly. She was a finalist for the Stephen Dunn Prize for Poetry, as well as So To Speak's 2010 poetry contest. Her work is forthcoming in Palooka and as a finalist in Southeast Review's poetry competition. Her found-poem-as-art "Many Happy Returns: An After-War Reunification and Realities Guide" confronting PTSD, military homicides, and suicides resulting from service in Afghanistan and Iraq will debut at the University of South Florida's Centre Gallery in October 2011.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

From Daniel Hayman, Printmaker

September 10 - December 4, 2011

Here and Now: Prints, Drawings, and Photographs by Ten Philadelphia Artists

Berman/Stieglitz Gallery, Philadelphia Museum of Art

Curator: Innis Shoemaker

I am so excited to be part of this exhibition! Each of the other artists is wonderful and to show with them in the Philadelphia Museum of Art is an honor. The Museum will present two of my works. The first is the eight prints that make up the 2006 Amman Portfolio, last exhibited in Philadelphia at The Print Center. This was the first set of portraits that I did of Iraqi torture victims, and it is a very moving and powerful set of prints. The second work is a new, paper version of When Photographers are Blinded, Eagles' Wings are Clipped, a print on plywood version of this piece that has been one of the central parts of my nationally touring show “Bearing Witness.” This paper version, I think, is even more powerful, and I hope that you can see it.

When-Photographers-paper-we 2

When Photographers Are Blinded, detail, relief and etching on paper, 102x138, 2010

Although I was misquoted (a bit), I was happy to see a piece in the Philadelphia Daily News about the exhibition.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Announcing the 2012 Featured Poets!

Split This Rock is very excited to announce a spectacular line-up of featured poets for Split This Rock Poetry Festival: Poems of Provocation & Witness, March 22-25, 2012.

The festival will once again feature some of the most visionary and powerful voices of our time.

Environmental activists, youth organizers, Pulitzer Prize winners, slam champions, poets of all ethnicities, DC-area poets, an opera librettist, translators, editors and publishers, emerging poets and mentors to emerging poets: Split This Rock 2012 has it all.

Join us in Washington, DC, for four days and more than 40 events - readings, workshops, panel discussions, youth programs, open mics, and activism - as we pay tribute to the life and work of June Jordan, 1936-2002.

See below for the poets' beautiful faces and follow the link to read their bios. Save the date! March 22-25, 2012. Registration information soon.

Announcing the 2012 Featured Poets


Split This Rock Poetry Festival:

Poems of Provocation & Witness

March 22-25, 2012


Homero Aridjis

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

Alice Walker


For full bios of the 2012 featured poets, please visit our website.


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Support Our Brother Poet Joe Gouveia


Splitista Joe Gouveia is fighting the return of cancer and his many friends and supporters on Cape Cod are organizing a benefit to help him through this difficult time. Please consider giving! Joe's phenomenal panel on the rant was a highlight at the 2008 festival. Checks should be made out to the Cultural Center of Cape Cod with "Joe Gouveia" in the memo line. Or you can call in a Credit Card charge. Contact info for the center is below.

Thank you for your generosity!

Anything Goes Coffee House
Music, Poetry, Food, and Friends: A Benefit for Cape Poet Joe/Jose Gouveia

On Sunday, October 16, at 7:30 pm, the Cultural Center of Cape Cod will host the Anything Goes Coffee House to raise funds for Joe “JoeGo” Gouveia, who was recently diagnosed with his second bout of cancer only two months after his first cancer went into remission.

A first-generation Portuguese-American who has been published in six countries on four continents, Joe is inextricably woven into the Cape ’s extensive network of poets and literary events, working tirelessly to celebrate the art. Funds raised at the event will help Joe pay his bills while he undergoes chemotherapy.

The event will feature music by the Beach Plums (a terrific local band that happens to include two great poets, Greg Hischak and Kathleen Healy), readings by Cape and mainland poets, food and drink, and a silent auction/raffle. Tickets are $15 and may be purchased at the Cultural Center , 307 Old Main St ., South Yarmouth or by calling 508-394-7100. They may also be purchased at the door. Though refreshments will be provided, attendees are encouraged to bring their own beverages in order to keep costs low and proceeds for Joe high.

“We invite artists and merchants across the Cape to donate items for the silent auction and refreshments for the Coffee House,” says Associate Director Lauren Wolk. “We also urge poets to get in touch if they would like to read during the open mic portions of the event. Short poems, please, so we can fit in lots of readers and accommodate those coming from off-Cape to read in Joe’s honor.”

As a student at Cape Cod Community College , Joe was instrumental in organizing its poetry club in 1995. After graduating from CCCC and UMass Dartmouth, where he was awarded the 1995 Literary Association Prize for Poetry, Gouveia founded the Cape Cod Poets Theater and, in 1997, launched the National Hyannis Poetry Slam Team with other local poets after winning the Sarasota Poetry Theatre prize for oral poetry.

Joe currently writes the Meter Man column about poetry for the Barnstable Patriot, hosts The Poets’ Corner for WOMR, and co-hosts the monthly Poets’ Corner open mic reading at the Cultural Center of Cape Cod. Joe is also a member of the Highway Poets Motorcycle Club, founder of the Biker Poets & Writers Association, and editor of and contributor to the biker poetry anthology Rubber Side Down (Archer Books, 2008). Poet Martín Espada has said of Joe’s work, “Joe Gouveia’s poetry rolls and roars like a Harley into our collective imagination.”

The Cultural Center invites all of Joe’s friends, family, colleagues, and fellow/sister poets to gather on the 16th to support him as he has supported the Cape ’s cultural community. The Center is located at 307 Old Main St. in South Yarmouth .

Those interested in donating items or refreshments for the event should please contact Lauren Wolk at 508-394-7100 or All donations are tax deductible to the extent that the law allows.

Cultural Center of Cape Cod

307 Old Main St., South Yarmouth, MA 02664

508-394-7100 508-394-7133 (fax)

Photo: Joe Gouveia at Split This Rock Poetry Festival 2008. Photo by Jill Brazel.

100 Thousand Poets for Change DC: Poetry Walk of Shame

Speak Out for Free Expression Everywhere

Saturday, September 24, 2011
11 am

Meet at the Embassy of Yemen
2319 Wyoming Avenue, NW
Washington, DC
Walking distance to Woodley Park & Dupont Circle Metro Stations on the Red Line
For more info: 202-787-5210,

Even while poets in 450 cities in 95 countries are organizing the largest poetry reading in history September 24, poets in too many countries around the world will be silent, out of fear for their safety.

Join Split This Rock and Foreign Policy in Focus, a project of the Institute for Policy Studies, as we give voice to some of those poets for one day.

We’ll take a short walk to the embassies of three countries -- Yemen, Burma, and Turkmenistan -- where citizens’ rights of free speech have been suppressed, where poets, writers, and other freedom lovers have been threatened, arrested, and murdered for their words and their activism. And we'll stand with the poets and writers of those few places where a few hints of openings are lighting the darkness.

As we stand in witness outside the embassies, we’ll read poems by poets from those nations so that they, too, may participate in 100 Thousand Poets for Change.

We’ll gather at 11 am at the Yemeni Embassy, 2319 Wyoming Avenue, NW. It’s walking distance from the red line Metro, halfway between the Woodley Park and Dupont Circle stops.

100 Thousand Poets for Change is the brainchild of Bay Area poet and publisher Michael Rothenberg. Events planned for September 24 range from poetry and peace gatherings in strife-torn Kabul and Jalalabad to 20 collective poetic actions in Mexico City where poets, painters, filmmakers and musicians will spread the word of peace and non-violence throughout the city with day long readings and workshops.

There are over 270 events in the United States, 29 in India, 7 in Nigeria, 17 in Canada, 19 in Great Britain, 5 in China, with more being added each day.

All those involved are hoping, through their actions and events, to seize and redirect the political and social dialogue of the day and turn the narrative of civilization towards peace and sustainability.

100 Thousand Poets for Change

Friday, September 16, 2011

Poem of the Week: Lisa Suhair Majaj

Lisa Suhair Majaj

If they ask you what you are,
say Arab. If they flinch, don't react,
just remember your great-aunt's eyes.

If they ask you where you come from,
say Toledo. Detroit. Mission Viejo.
Fall Springs. Topeka. If they seem confused,

help them locate these places on a map,
then inquire casually, Where are you from?
Have you been here long? Do you like this country?

If they ask what you eat,
don't dissemble. If garlic is your secret friend,
admit it. Likewise, crab cakes.

If they say you're not American,
don't pull out your personal,
wallet-sized flag. Instead, recall

the Bill of Rights. Mention the Constitution.
Wear democracy like a favorite garment:
comfortable, intimate.

If they wave newspapers in your face and shout,
stay calm. Remember everything they never learned.
Offer to take them to the library.

If they ask you if you're white, say it depends.
Say no. Say maybe. If appropriate, inquire,
Have you always been white, or is it recent?

If you take to the streets in protest,
link hands with whomever is beside you.
Keep your eye on the colonizer's maps,

geography's twisted strands, the many colors
of struggle. No matter how far you've come, remember:
the starting line is always closer than you think.

If they ask how long you plan to stay, say forever.
Console them if they seem upset. Say, don't worry,
you'll get used to it. Say, we live here. How about you?

-Lisa Suhair Majaj

From Geographies of Light (Del Sol Press, 2009)

Used by permission.

Lisa Suhair Majaj is the author of Geographies of Light (winner of the Del Sol Press Poetry Prize) and co-editor of three volumes of literary essays: Intersections: Gender, Nation and Community in Arab Women's Novels (Syracuse University Press, 2002), Etel Adnan: Critical Essays on the Arab-American Writer and Artist (McFarland Publishing, 2002) and Going Global: The Transnational Reception of Third World Women Writers. (NY: Garland/Routledge, 2000). She publishes poetry, creative nonfiction and critical essays in journals and anthologies the US, Europe and the Middle East, and has read at venues such as London's Poetry International. She currently lives in Cyprus.

Please feel free to forward Split This Rock Poem of the Week widely. We just ask you to include all of the information in this email, including this request. Thanks!

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Friday, September 9, 2011

Poem of the Week: Andrea Carter Brown

After the Disaster: Fragments

We are not starving.

........We are wearing

shoes on our feet.

........We have friends

to care for us; a roof

........albeit borrowed,

over our heads. We are

........husbands, wives

still; lovers, parents, children.

...............But the dust

of thousands has settled

..........over our living

rooms, an early snow

....fall, in late summer,

the first winter

........of the rest of our lives.

-Andrea Carter Brown

Used by permission.

Previously published in The MacGuffin.

Andrea Carter Brown is the author of a collection of poems, The Disheveled Bed (CavanKerry Press, 2006), and an award-winning poetry chapbook, Brook & Rainbow (Sow's Ear Press, 2000). Each Boat Signs the Water, her second poetry chapbook, won the 2010 Pudding House Chapbook Contest and will be published in 2011, together with a letterpress broadside of the title poem. She is completing a collection of linked heroic double sonnet crowns titled September 12. A longtime resident of New York City, where she was a Founding Editor of Barrow Street, she now lives in Los Angeles, where she has been Visiting Lecturer in Poetry and Managing Editor of the Emily Dickinson Journal at Pomona College.

Brown was on the panel Personal and Political: The Difficult Art of Writing a Manuscript of Poems that Bear Witness at Split This Rock Poetry Festival: Poems of Provocation & Witness 2008, and The Poet as Historian in the 21st Century: A Rare Opportunity in Difficult Times at Split This Rock 2010. She will present on the panel The Legacy of 9/11: Poetry Ten Years Later at Split This Rock 2012.

Please feel free to forward Split This Rock Poem of the Week widely. We just ask you to include all of the information in this email, including this request. Thanks!

Split This Rock

Friday, September 2, 2011

Poem of the Week: M.J. Iuppa

MJ Iuppa


The fence that wasn't a barrier, that didn't hold

anything back or up, but was the grid over the scene of

smoke rising, smoldering from September

to December, as the slow green trucks crawled

back and forth, churning up gray dust, heaving

lumps of cement, twisted iron beams, crushed

glass, bits of paper floating in the swirl

of tires rumbling past us, who stood on iron milk crates,

straining to see into the pit, staring into the silence of

the gathering crowd, into the rainless faces,

the on-going thoughts, what couldn't be imagined

or said out loud, not now, not in that hour, or the next --

faces still searched the blue patch of sky, that gaping

space above it all, and right before us, the fence

that held a single sunflower.

-M.J. Iuppa

Used by permission.

First published in Le Mot Juste Anthology, 2008,

and appears in Within Reach, Cherry Grove Collections, 2010.

M.J.Iuppa lives on a small farm near the shores of Lake Ontario. Her most recent chapbook is As the Crows Flies (Foothills Publishing, 2008) and second full length collection, Within Reach, (Cherry Grove Collections, 2010). She is Writer-in-Residence and Director of the Arts Minor Program at St. John Fisher College, Rochester, NY.

Please feel free to forward Split This Rock Poem of the Week widely. We just ask you to include all of the information in this email, including this request. Thanks!

Split This Rock

A 9/11 Commemoration in Collaboration with Studio Gallery

911 Arts Project

Art, Poetry, Music

A 9/11 Commemoration

in Collaboration with

Studio Gallery

Sunday, September 11


Studio Gallery

2108 R Street, NW

Washington, DC


Dupont Circle Metro

Artists everywhere have been moved to create work in response to the events of 9/11, both immediately afterwards and over the past 10 years.

By bringing together past and present work, we hope to illuminate ways in which art can help us to process catastrophe and its aftermath. The participating artists have been asked to reflect on their work in this regard, and their observations and insights will be included in the exhibition.

Join Split This Rock and the Studio Gallery for a reception featuring poets Gowri K, Holly Karapetkova, and Gregory Pardlo, artwork by Studio Gallery members, music, and more.

The Poets:

Gowri K is a poet, singer, and lawyer whose parents immigrated to the U.S. from Sri Lanka. She has been a featured poet at the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage, the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, Campus Progress's Protest Through Poetry, Busboys and Poets, and Sulu DC and her poetry has appeared in Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Bourgeon, and Lantern Review. She was a member of the 2010 DC Southern Fried Slam team and serves as the program director at BloomBars community arts space, where she hosts Poetry in the Morning and Poet-Tree in Bloom.

Holly Karapetkova's poems, essays, and translations from the Bulgarian have appeared in Mid-American Review, Waccamaw, 32 Poems, and many other places. Her first book, Words We Might One Day Say, is from Washington Writers' Publishing House. She lives in Arlington, VA, and teaches at Marymount University.

Gregory Pardlo is the author of Totem (APR 2007). He is recipient of a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship and a translation grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. He has received other fellowships from the New York Times, the MacDowell Colony, and the Lotos Club Foundation. He teaches at George Washington University.

For more info: