Thursday, July 31, 2014

Split This Rock Call for an End to the Attacks on the People of Gaza

As an organization whose very existence was born from the global Poets Against the War movement, we at Split This Rock are grieved and outraged by Israel’s attack on the people of Gaza and by the lives that continue to be lost even as we post this blog. We feel an obligation to speak out against the notion that violence can in any way resolve our world’s most pressing conflicts.

As such, we condemn Israel’s murderous attacks. Hamas' use of rockets and other strategies aimed at Israeli civilians – many of whom oppose their nation's aggressive stance – are also a violation of international law. But we do not accept this as justification for collective punishment of the people of Gaza. 

We are outraged by our government's continued participation in state-sanctioned violence and will continue to speak out on behalf of the victims of our government's policies here and elsewhere. 

We demand that the US stop all funding of the Israeli military and support the UN call for an unconditional ceasefire and investigation of war crimes. We call for an end to the siege of Gaza and an end to the occupation. Finally, we appeal to peace artists everywhere to raise their voices against all human rights atrocities, no matter where they occur.

Our poetry can name the many ways that violence and war wounds our very capacity for peace. It can build awareness and community and help us reach across our divisions. It often stirs us to take action.

For those who seek more options to respond to the lives being lost daily in Gaza, here are a few ideas:

Learn More. It’s important that we educate ourselves, being mindful that we live in the age of spin. Noura Erakat at The Nation recently offered insight into some of the myths surrounding Gaza. Click here to see what they have to say. Our ally Phyllis Bennis at the Institute for Policy Studies published an excellent piece on Israel’s policy of collective punishment at Other Words yesterday. And David Swanson takes on the larger question of whether war and violence are themselves “war crimes.” It’s a thoughtful piece that has us deep in conversation today. You can read it here.

Call the President and your Representatives. The United States supports Israel financially and with arms. Contact President Obama at (202) 456-1111 and the State Department at (202) 647-4000 to demand a withdrawal of U.S. military aid and funding from Israel. Call your U.S. Senators and ask that Congress demand an end to the siege of Gaza. Find your representative here:
Stand in solidarity. Citizens are taking to the streets all over the world to speak out against Israeli aggression. A list of upcoming demonstrations can be found here.
Boycott, Divest, Sanctions (BDS). The BDS movement has a commitment to putting pressure on Israel until it complies with international law and the Palestinian people are provided fundamental rights. For those who wish to endorse a cultural boycott of Israel, a recent statement and sign-on form is here. Click here for ways to get involved.

Sign Petitions. There are lots of them floating around and it can’t hurt to add your name to as many as possible. Click here to sign Amnesty’s petition. 

Donate. If you feel led to send money to help people on the ground in Gaza, we hear that ANERA is an organization with a good reputation. Be sure to do your research before sending funds.

Get Involved. Among many groups doing important work to end the assaults, Jewish Voice for Peace is an invaluable resource. Click here for their Activist Toolkit.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Poem of the Week: Ruth Irupé Sanabria


I am the daughter of doves
That disappeared into dust

Hear my pulse whisper:

I have many friends and thirty thousand
Warrior angels to watch
Over my exiled skin.

Look what occupies the four chambers of my heart:

You will know me by this.
I am the daughter that never forgets.

Used by permission.
From The Strange House Testifies (Bilingual Review Press, 2013)   

Ruth Irupé Sanabria earned her MFA in Poetry from NYU. Her first full-length collection of poems, The Strange House Testifies (Bilingual Press), won 2nd place (Poetry) in the 2010 Annual Latino Book Awards. Her second full-length collection of poems is the 2014 recipient of the Letras Latinas/Red Hen Press Awards and will be published in 2017. Her poems have appeared in anthologies such as Women Writing ResistancePoets Against the War, and U.S. Latino Literature Today. She has read her poetry in libraries, prisons, schools, parks, bars, and universities across the USA, Mexico, and Peru. Born in Argentina, raised in Washington D.C., she now works as a high school English teacher and lives with her husband and three children in Perth Amboy, N.J.

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!

If you are interested in reading past poems of the week, feel free to visit the blog archive.  

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Poem of the Week: Deborah Ager

Fires on Highway 192

            After Neruda’s “Disasters”

In Florida, it was raining ash because the fire
demanded it. I had to point my car landward
and hope the smoke would part, but it was a grey sea
absorbing my body. Cabbage Palms were annihilated.
Even the Indian River steamed. Black stalks stank.
The condominiums spit smoke into twilight.
Still, a cattle egret landed, preening, in a pasture
filled with embers – the cattle dead or removed.
And I was hungry; there was nothing to eat.
And I was thirsty and raised the river to my mouth.
And I was alone, and there was only that one egret
searching for a cow. The wind was a whisper on my tongue.
Ash on ash. Slumber shallow. I was a frown
in an unfamiliar city after sundown. Vultures circled
like assassins. I made a bed out of the road. I made a pillow
of misery and slept and had no story I wanted to confess.

Used by permission.
From The Bloomsbury Anthology of Contemporary Jewish American Poetry (Bloomsbury, 2013)

Deborah Ager is founding editor of 32 Poems Magazine. Many poems first appearing in the magazine have been honored in the Best American Poetry and the Best New Poets anthologies and on Verse Daily and Poetry Daily. Ager is the co-editor of Old Flame: The First Ten Years of 32 Poems Magazine and author of Midnight Voices. Her poems have appeared in The Georgia Review, Quarterly West, Los Angeles Review and Birmingham Poetry Review and have been anthologized in Best New Poets, From the Fishouse, and No Tell Motel. She also co-edited The Bloomsbury Anthology of Contemporary Jewish American Poetry, in which this poem appeared.

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!

If you are interested in reading past poems of the week, feel free to visit the blog archive.  

Friday, July 11, 2014

Poem of the Week: Najwan Darwish

Sleeping in Gaza

Fado, I’ll sleep like people do
when shells are falling
and the sky is torn like living flesh
I’ll dream, then, like people do
when shells are falling:
I’ll dream of betrayals

I’ll wake at noon and ask the radio
the questions people ask of it:
Is the shelling over?
How many were killed?

But my tragedy, Fado,
is that there are two types of people:
those who cast their suffering and sins
into the streets so they can sleep
and those who collect the people’s suffering and sins
mold them into crosses, and parade them
through the streets of Babylon and Gaza and Beirut
all the while crying
Are there any more to come?
Are there any more to come?

Two years ago I walked through the streets
of Dahieh, in southern Beirut
and dragged a cross
as large as the wrecked buildings
But who today will lift a cross
from the back of a weary man in Jerusalem?

The earth is three nails
and mercy a hammer:
Strike, Lord
Strike with the planes

Are there any more to come?

-Najwan Darwish
Translated from the Arabic by Kareem James Abu-Zeid 

Used by permission.
From Nothing More to Lose (New York Review Books, 2014) 
Photo by Véronique Vercheval 

Najwan Darwish, one of the foremost Arabic-language poets of his generation, was born in Jerusalem in 1978. He has worked as the editor of two cultural magazines in Palestine and was a cultural critic for the prominent Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar from 2006 to 2012. Darwish has been an organizer and advisor for many public arts projects, among them the Palestine Festival of Literature. In 2009, he founded a literary press in Jerusalem, and he is currently involved in establishing a new pan-Arab newspaper, where he will be the chief editor of the arts and culture section. Also in 2009, he was on the Hay Festival Beirut’s list of the “best 39 Arab authors under the age of 39.” He currently resides in Jerusalem.

Kareem James Abu-Zeid has translated novels by the Lebanese writer Rabee Jaber and the Sudanese writer Tarek Eltayeb, as well as the poetry collection The Iraqi Nights by Dunya Mikhail. Abu-Zeid also translates from French and German, and has taught university courses in four different languages in Berkeley, Mannheim, and Heidelberg. He works as a freelance translator and editor.

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!

If you are interested in reading past poems of the week, feel free to visit the blog archive.  

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

2015 Poetry Contest

Announcing the 8th Annual 
Split This Rock  
Poetry Contest  

Judged by: Natalie Diaz
Natalie Diaz  

Benefits Split This Rock Poetry Festival
April 14-17, 2016
$1,000 Awarded for poems of provocation & witness


Prizes: First place $500; 2nd and 3rd place, $250 each. 

Winning poems will be published on; winners will receive free festival registration; and the 1st-place winner will be invited to read winning poem at Split This Rock Poetry Festival, 2016.

Up to three honorable mentions will receive signed copies of Nude Descending an Empire, Sam Taylor’s newest book. Split This Rock Executive Director Sarah Browning has this to say of the book: "Sam Taylor’s poems make me shudder at the horror and pleasure of this world. In the face of the American imperial project, the poems sing every song imaginable – dirge, praise song, ecstatic chant. The antidote to despair, then, is more – more of the body, heart, more mystery, fear. 'Don’t say impossible,' says the poet, and these hurting, gorgeous poems never do."

Deadline: November 1, 2014

Reading Fee: $20, which supports Split This Rock Poetry Festival 2016. 

Details: Submissions should be in the spirit of Split This Rock: socially engaged poems, poems that reach beyond the self to connect with the larger community or world; poems of provocation and witness. This theme can be interpreted broadly and may include but is not limited to work addressing politics, economics, government, war, leadership; issues of identity (gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, disability, body image, immigration, heritage, etc.); community, civic engagement, education, activism; and poems about history, Americana, cultural icons.

Split This Rock subscribes to the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses Contest Code of Ethics. Read it online here.

Submission guidelines:

Submit up to 3 unpublished poems, no more than 6 pages total, in any style, in the spirit of Split This Rock (see above). Please do not put your name or contact information on the poems themselves, only your cover page.

Simultaneous submissions OK, but please notify us immediately if the poem is accepted elsewhere.

Please contact us directly if you are unable to access Submittable at 

For more information:   

Friday, July 4, 2014

Poem of the Week: Don Share

Don share by Gesi Schilling  

Pax Americana

July kindles the redneck in me.
I blaze down Interstates
that are viaducts for my beery nerves

and remember what hell these roads
are paved with...
If I don't keep moving,

I could end up divorced, or flat-out broke.
I could end up up-the-creek without a paddle.
I could end up dead and gone and good for nothing.

In the old days,
I was one of the local vandals,
setting fires, tossing cats down perfectly

good well-heads, exploding princely toads.
It was hot and weird,
and Jane and I'd just graduated;

we liked the sound of sirens.
The cops, good old grits, looked the other way.
"Mess up what you can, boy," they'd say

with a wink, "while you can, boy."
Not that there was anything illegal, exactly;
the peace was always kept.

On the main road out of town,
though, battle lines were clearly drawn.
Every night, headlights forced starlight

to bubble up from the tar while in the daytime,
sunshine grew out of crossed mica-slivers.
Violence lulled me.

I had my big wreck and comeuppance that way.
Oh, how I'd wanted to take her out.
It was a scalding Fourth, and we got drunk.

My heart was an oiled engine, racing.
For once, the charm on the rearview failed.
My eyes were bewildered.

All I remember is the taillights
of her father's pickup
before I blew him clear the hell out of sight.

The good old days are over,
and peace is history;
and that's why I left home.

and that's why I have no home.

-Don Share    

Used by permission.
From Union (Eyewear Publishing, 2013)     
Photo by Gesi Schilling  

Don Share is the editor of Poetry magazine.  His most recent books are Wishbone (Black Sparrow), Union (Eyewear Publishing), and Bunting's Persia (Flood Editions); he has also edited a critical edition of Bunting's poems for Faber. His translations of Miguel Hernández, awarded the Times Literary Supplement Translation Prize, were recently republished in a revised and expanded edition by New York Review Books.  His other books include Seneca in English (Penguin Classics), Squandermania (Salt Modern Poets), and The Open Door: 100 Poems, 100 Years of POETRY Magazine (University of Chicago Press), co-edited with Christian Wiman.
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!
If you are interested in reading past poems of the week, feel free to visit the blog archive. 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

July Sunday Kind of Love

July Sunday Kind of Love

Deborah Ager 
Rachel Malis 
Yvette Neisser Moreno  
Kim Roberts

A Bloomsbury Anthology of Contemporary Jewish American Poets Group Reading
   July SKOL

Sunday July 20, 2014
Busboys & Poets
2021 14th St. NW
Washington, DC 20009

Hosted by
Sarah Browning & Katy Richey
$5 online or at the door

As always, open mic follows!
Co-Sponsored by
Busboys and Poets &

Deborah Ager is the author/editor of three books, co-director of the Miller Cabin reading series, and founding editor of 32 Poems Magazine. Her books include The Bloomsbury Anthology of Contemporary Jewish American Poetry (2013) and Old Flame: Ten Years of 32 Poems Magazine (2012).     

Rachel Malis earned her M.F.A. from Arizona State University in 2010 and has been published in the New Mexico Poetry Review, Adirondack Review, Superstition Review, and several others. While completing her master's degree, Rachel received awards and grants to travel to Ukraine, the Czech Republic, and Australia, and these adventures have informed her work.    

Yvette Neisser Moreno is the author of Grip (winner of the 2011 Gival Press Poetry Award), and the translator of two volumes of poetry from Spanish. She directs the DC-Area Literary Translators Network (DC-ALT), serves on Split This Rock's Festival Committee, and teaches at The Writer's Center.     

Kim Roberts is the author of four books of poems, most recently To the South Pole, a connected series of blank verse sonnets written in the voice of Antarctic explorer Robert Falcon Scott, which will be published in November by Broadkill Press, and Animal Magnetism, winner of the Pearl Prize (Pearl Editions, 2011). She is the editor of the journal Beltway Poetry Quarterly, the anthology Full Moon on K Street: Poems About Washington, DC (Plan B Press, 2010), and co-editor of the web exhibit DC Writers' Homes.