Friday, August 29, 2014

Poem of the Week: TJ Jarrett






Of Late, I Have Been Thinking About Despair

its ruthless syntax, and the ease with which it interjects
itself into our days. I thought how best to explain this—

this dark winter, but that wasn’t it, or beds unshared
but that isn’t exactly it either, until I remembered

Saturday afternoons spent with my father in the garage
and those broken cars one after another. At the time,

that’s what we could afford. Broken things. Saturdays,
there was always a game on the radio and I’d stand

beside him or lie under the engine, oil cascading from
the oilpan. Daddy would curse wildly, sometimes

about the car, sometimes about the game. Sometimes
Mama called for one or the other of us from upstairs and

I’d trudge up to see what she wanted with a sigh.
We sighed so much then. Funny. If you asked us

if we were happy, we’d say: Families. They are happy.
There’s a solace in broke-down cars: you can find what

is broken. You can make it whole again. I’d pop the hood,
peer into the sooty inside and Daddy would pass me parts

for my small hands to tender to each need. Daddy
scrambled into the front seat, turned a key and a roar

came out that would be cause for rejoicing. But time came,
(this is the inevitable part) when he would draw the white

handkerchief to his head in surrender. I would always ask
if we could've tried harder. Baby girl, he’d say. She’s gone.  


Used by permission.
Photo by: Dennis Wile.

TJ Jarrett is a writer and software developer in Nashville, Tennessee. Her recent work has been published or is forthcoming in Poetry, African American Review, Boston Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, Callaloo, DIAGRAM, Third Coast, VQR, West Branch and others. Her debut collection Ain’t No Grave  (finalist for the 2013 Balcones Prize) is published with New Issues Press (2013). Her second collection Zion (winner of the Crab Orchard Open Competition 2013) will be published by Southern Illinois University Press in the fall of 2014. More info at http://www.tjjarrett.com/


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

Thursday, August 28, 2014

POETRY WORTH BRAGGING ABOUT!

What an an exciting season for poetry it is in our nation's capital! Allow us to share a few reasons why.

DC poetry wins!

Photo by Outlier Imagery


In case you missed it: DC now holds 2 poetry slam titles! One of them, we're proud to say belongs to Split This Rock's DC Youth Slam Team, which took first place at the 2014 Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam. Check out videos of their performances here.



The other title belongs to the adults of the Beltway Poetry Slam team as the 2014 National Poetry Slam champs! 

Now to build the 2015 teams!  Learn how you or a young person you know can become part of the 2015 DC Youth Slam Team here.


Fabulous New Split This Rock Events!  

The coming months are filled with opportunities for you to write, listen, cheer, converse, submit. Check out these upcoming Split This Rock events: 
  • National Book Festival Youth Slam: Stage [Hearts] PageAugust 30 • 6-7:30pm • FREE. Poetry & Prose Pavilion, Walter E. Washington Convention Center, 801 Mt Vernon Pl NW (DC). More here. FB event page here.

  • NEW Writing Workshop Series. Held every 1st and 3rd Wednesday, starting September 3 • 6:30-8:30pm • $5. We'll bring the writing prompts. You bring the creativity! Drop in - No RSVP required. Open to ALL ages and levels of experience. More here.
  • Monthly House Party Series Begins. September 20 • 3-5pm • FREE. 1831 Kalorama Rd. NW, Washington, DC. Hosted by Andy and Marjan Shallal, this event will be the first in a monthly series spreading the word about the work of Split This Rock. Come to have fun but also to hear why others choose to invest in Split This Rock and consider joining with them. RSVP required.
Poetry Workshop led by Linda Hogan. Sept. 14 • 2-4:30pm • $25 - scholarships availableInstitute for Policy Studies Conference Rm, 1112 16th St. NW (DC). Register here.

Linda Hogan Reading (DC). Sept. 14 • 6:30-8pm • $5. Busboys and Poets, 1025 5th St. NW (DC). A Fall for the Book event.

Linda Hogan Reading (VA) at Fall for the Book festival. Sept. 15 • 4:30-5:45pm • FREEGeorge Mason University Johnson Ctr. Plaza, Sandy Spring Bank Tent, 4400 University Dr., Fairfax, VA.


  • Poetic & Intellectual Freedom Panel Discussion at Fall for the Book festival. Sept. 16 • 4:30-5:45pm • FREE. George Mason University Johnson Ctr. Plaza, Sandy Spring Bank Tent, 4400 University Dr., Fairfax, VA• 3-5pm • FREE. 
  • Sunday Kind of Love (Monthly).  3rd Sunday of every month • 5-7pm • $5Busboys and Poets, 2021 14th St, NW, Washington, D.C. Check out our website for the line up of our monthly featured artists. Hermine Pinson and TJ Jarrett feature on September 21. Click here for tickets.
  • Youth Slams, Writing Workshops, Open Mics & Other Special Events. Stay tuned to the DC Youth Slam Team Facebook page to find out about lots of new and ongoing events for young writers. Some upcoming events include: An interest meeting for teachings and other school staff interested in bringing Louder Than a Bomb poetry slam activities to their school (Sept. 8, 6pm), poetry slams (Sept. 12, 7pm / Sept. 17, 5pm), and a writing group (Sept. 24, 6pm). Click here for more info.

Don't Forget The Deadlines!
  • Annual Poetry Contest. Submissions accepted until November 1! Info here.
  • Split This Rock Poetry Festival 2016: April 14-17, 2016.
There's SO much poetry in store! We hope you'll be able to participate!

In Peace & Poetry,
Split This Rock 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Poem of the Week: Hermine Pinson



Test for Cognitive Function 


         Don’t bring no ghosts in the front door

                Bessie Smith

Mother


Slipper


July


“ I will ask you to recall these words


at the end of our session”



We  blackberried in barefoot grass and ate


July sandwiches .  


Mama  said,    “Walk together, children” was code for


escaping to freedom,  walking  away.   


Lifting on the ball of the foot, then coming down.


 “ . . . in a straight line, heel to toe, heel to toe.”


  She perished in flames, before she could teach us


the rest.   Gone now. Go on now, 


but not beyond memory’s compulsive reach


or love’s register.


“Steady now.  Again.”



I’m older than she never will be,


shrouded in her youth.


Mama’s  slippers whisper 


over  dreamed banks. 


We couldn’t save her, except this way.


“What am I holding in this hand?”


Neither time nor place   . . .


hold her. 


Mama birthed   me 


 on Cocoa cola,  potato salad, 


scripture, ditties,  and good shoes.  


I went to the river to get baptized


My right foot slipped & I got baptized


 Always, she wishes for me 


love and clarity in the  cunning city 


of language.



Every season she’s gone,  

she walks memory’s winding


corridors


“The words, what are they now?”


for safe keeping.



Hermine Pinson has published three poetry collections, most recently Dolores is Blue/Dolorez is Blues.  Her first CD was Changing the Changes in Poetry & Song, in collaboration with Estella Majozo and Pulitzer-prize winning poet Yusef Komunyakaa.  Her most recent CD is Deliver Yourself with the Harris Simon Trio.  She has performed in the United States, Europe, and Africa. Pinson’s work has appeared in numerous anthologies and journals including Poedia Mundo, Commonwealth: Contemporary Poets of Virginia, Callaloo, Verse, The Ringing Ear:  Black Poets Lean South,  African American Review, Common Bonds: Stories by and About Modern Texas Women, and Konch.  Her most recent short fiction appears in Richmond Noir and ragazine.cc. She has had fellowships at Norton Island, Cave Canem, Macdowell Colony, Yaddo, Soul Mountain, Byrdcliffe Colony, Vermont Studio Center, and The Virginia Foundation for the Humanities.  She teaches creative writing and African American literature at the College of William and Mary.


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, August 15, 2014

Poem of the Week: Danez Smith


not an elegy for Mike Brown

I am sick of writing this poem
but bring the boy. his new name

his same old body. ordinary, black

dead thing. bring him & we will mourn
until we forget what we are mourning

& isn’t that what being black is about?

not the joy of it, but the feeling

you get when you are looking

at your child, turn your head,
then, poof, no more child.

that feeling. that’s black.


      \\

think: once, a white girl

was kidnapped & that’s the Trojan war.

later, up the block, Troy got shot

& that was Tuesday. are we not worthy

of a city of ash? of 1000 ships

launched because we are missed?

always, something deserves to be burned.

it’s never the right thing now a days.

I demand a war to bring the dead boy back

no matter what his name is this time.

I at least demand a song. a song will do just fine.


      \\

look at what the lord has made.
above Missouri, sweet smoke.


Used by permission.

Photo by: Travis Chanter

Danez Smith is the author of the collection [insert] Boy (forthcoming, YesYes Books) & the chapbook hands on ya knees (Penmanship books, 2013). Danez is a 2014 Ruth Lilly & Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship Finalist. Danez is the recipient of fellowships from the McKnight Foundation, Cave Canem, VONA, & elsewhere. He is a founding member of the multi-genre, multicultural Dark Noise Collective. His writing has appeared in Poetry Magazine, Ploughshares, Beloit Poetry Journal, & elsewhere. In Poetry Slam, he is the 2014 NUPIC Champion, a 2011 IWPS finalist, the reigning 2-time Rustbelt Individual Champion & was on 2014 Championship Team Sad Boy Supper Club. He writes & lives between Oakland, CA & St. Paul, MN.


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 post, including this request. Thanks!
  

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

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Poem of the Week: Douglas Kearney


excerpt from THANK YOU BUT       PLEASE DON'T BUY MY CHILDREN CLOTHES WITH MONKEYS ON THEM



Used by permission.
From Patter (Red Hen Press, 2014)
Photo by: Eric Plattner.

Poet/performer/librettist Douglas Kearney’s first full-length collection of poems, Fear, Some, was published in 2006 by Red Hen Press. His second, The Black Automaton (Fence Books, 2009), was Catherine Wagner’s selection for the National Poetry Series. It was also a finalist for the PEN Center USA Award in 2010. He has received a Whiting Writers’ Award, a Coat Hanger award, and fellowships at Idyllwild and Cave Canem. Raised in Altadena, CA, he lives with his family in California’s Santa Clarita Valley. He teaches at CalArts.

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, August 1, 2014

Poem of the Week: Morgan Butler, Malachi Byrd, Chyna McCombs & Thomas Hill



"Waters" by  Morgan Butler, Malachi Byrd, Chyna McCombs & Thomas Hill

The DC Youth Slam Team is a program of Split This Rock which uses spoken word poetry to teach and empower teens to speak up about issues of social justice. With free weekly writing workshops, monthly open mics, poetry slams, and annual travel to regional and national competitions, the team provides training and a platform for District youth to develop their poetry and public speaking skills with guidance from mentors and peers. The team came in 1st place at the 2014 Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Festival, where "Waters" was given a perfect score of 30 during the Grand Slam Final competition. 

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 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: http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/
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.