Friday, May 27, 2011

"Louder Than a Bomb" Movie Comes to West End Cinema June 10


We received this letter yesterday. We haven't seen the film yet, but we're excited to. Check out the description below.

- Split This Rock Team

The West End Cinema ( is excited to announce the opening of LOUDER THAN A BOMB on June 10th. The film was produced and directed by the Emmy Award winning team of Greg Jacobs and Jon Siskel (102 MINUTES THAT CHANGED AMERICA).

LOUDER THAN A BOMB is an inspirational documentary about four teams competing in the world's largest youth slam poetry competition held in Chicago. Rather than emphasizing individual poets and performances, the structure of the Louder Than a Bomb competition demands that kids work collaboratively with their peers, presenting, critiquing, and rewriting their pieces. To succeed, teams have to create an environment of mutual trust and support. For many kids, being a part of such an environment—in an academic context—is life-changing. It's a great film for anyone, but a must see for those interested in poetry.


It’s about speaking out, making noise and finding your voice. It also just happens to be about poetry.

LOUDER THAN A BOMB chronicles the stereotype-confounding stories of four teams as they prepare for and compete in the 2008 "Louder Than a Bomb" competition, the world’s largest youth poetry slam. By turns hopeful and heartbreaking, the film captures the tempestuous lives of these unforgettable kids, exploring the ways writing shapes their world, and vice versa. This is not "high school poetry" as we often think of it. This is language as a joyful release, irrepressibly talented teenagers obsessed with making words dance. How and why they do it is at the heart of this inspiring film. Watch the trailer at

99 minutes


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Poem of the Week: Bonnie Naradzay

Hanover County Jail, Commonwealth of Virginia

Lunch today for the inmates means white bread

and a slice of baloney. Dinner is more of the same.

The limit now - two meals a day to stay in budget.

The jail's run by a profit-making corporation.

Vending machines hold other selections,

like undated Twinkies and cinnamon buns.

Immigration rents beds here

for young, married Chinese women

without papers, only fake passports they bought in haste.

Fearing reprisals, they fled the provinces, their homes and families.

For one bore a child after marrying too young, at twenty,

and another had a second child, a girl.

One has an abscessed tooth.

As a volunteer, I write down her plight,

mainly that she cannot pay a Chinese-speaking lawyer

in New York City, her only hope, or even call long distance,

collect. I read her confession, search for gestures.

The budget does not fund dental work, I'm told.

What's more, they charge for aspirin.

The next one, wearing the same ink-blue pajamas

and plastic shower shoes,

holds her stomach, speaks of constant pain.

The doctor comes once a month

and sees only those who signed up long before.

The system weeds out malingerers, the female warden says,

handing me a sheaf of small-print regulations.

-Bonnie Naradzay

Used by permission.

In the 1960's, while a graduate student at Harvard, Bonnie Naradzay studied "The Kings James Bible as English Literature" with Robert Lowell. In January 2008 she earned her MFA in poetry from Stonecoast, at the University of Southern Maine. She was the 2010 Winner, Poetry Genre, in the competition sponsored by the University of New Orleans MFA program. Also in 2010, one of her poems was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. A long-time resident of the Washington D.C. area, she has volunteered at Catholic Worker shelters by cooking lunch and mentoring writing projects; she has also volunteered to visit prisons for immigrant rights organizations.

Naradzay attended Split This Rock Poetry Festival: Poems of Provocation & Witness 2008 and 2010.

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

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Move Over AIPAC presents "Poets, Comedians and Dancers: Tears and Laughter for Palestinve"

Tomorrow Night! 
Sun, May 22 6.00pm: Busboys and Poets, 5th & K

Move Over AIPAC presents:

"Poets, Comedians and Dancers: Tears and Laughter for Palestine."

Join us for an evening devoted to the poets, musicians, and comedians of Palestine. Join us for a performance by Palestinian-American poet Remi Kanazi, as he delivers poems from his new book, Poetic Injustice: Writings on Resistance and Palestine. Jonathon Tucker, a local resistance poet, and Split This Rock staffer, will unleash poems about the dangerous relationship between the United States and Israel. Magical oud and kanoun player, Huda Asfour, will enchant us. Palestinian-American comedian Said Durrah will lighten the mood with with a few jokes, before traditional Debke dancers present a dance lesson to the entire audience.

This event is part of Move Over AIPAC, a gathering from May 21-24 organized by CODEPINK and endorsed by over 100 peace groups. See

FREE and open to all!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Books for Ballou High School: A Letter from Kyle Dargan

Dear Friends,

On the behalf of the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities, I recently had the opportunity to spend time working with and writing with a wonderful group of students from high schools across the District. Students from Ellington, Wilson, Bell Multicultural and Ballou all came to 826 DC in Columbia Heights to generate poems and discuss arts education. These workshops were actually the spawning point for the recent White House Poetry Workshop and Evening of Poetry where one of our students, Tiesha Hines from Ballou, read her poem "Ten Things I Want to Throw at You" and introduced First Lady Michelle Obama.

Tiesha Hines represents the great potential of Washington, D.C.'s young writers. Unfortunately, her school lacks the necessary resources to assure that such potential is consistently developed. The Ballou library is significantly under-stocked, and without a public library in the immediate vicinity, the school library is an invaluable immediate resource.

So, a simple request: If you have books that you can spare, or if you are a writer and have copies of your own work you can sign, please consider donating and sending those books to the Ballou Senior High School:

Melissa Jackson, Librarian
Ballou Senior High School
3401 4th Street, SE
Washington, DC 20032

Tiesha Hines is the president of Ballou's poetry club, and reading poems, I'm sure many of you know, is an indispensable part of the writing process. Send what you can, but if you have poetry collections make sure to send them so students like Tiesha and other members of the poetry club have the resources all young writers need to be able to access. The Split This Rock Foundation has already donated. Please add to its generosity by looking through your personal libraries and sending what you can.


Kyle Dargan

Advisory Committee, Split This Rock Poetry Festival
Founder/Editor, POST NO ILLS Magazine
Assistant Professor of Literature & Creative Writing, American University

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Poem of the Week: Scott Hightower

Rubber Dollie

........The only permanent thing is the soul,

..........and what has happened to it.

.......................-Patrick Kavanagh

Like a dancer covered in nothing

but white powder, then sponged

with course brown makeup;

nothing else in plain sight

but silver anklets; arms
extended to take

the tribute of a guard's embrace.
We are watching from behind;

though, there are no flowers,
no curtain. And it's not a ballet.

It's a macabre charade,
one night in the secret

theater of Abu Ghraib.
The anklets are shackles.

In another, a leashed
dog-loud, black,

and snarling--takes
center stage. And, in others,

real men, looking like oddly
manipulated Kachina dolls

or naked degraded marionettes
in medieval hoods--

their elbows akimbo--
are paraded, strung erect,

wired, collapsed;
are stacked into a pile.

"Save us
from noisy oblivion;

from despair. Save us,
one by one,

from Roman cruelty;
from death

by water;
from death

by fire. Save us
from being eaten alive."

-Scott Hightower

Used by permission.

*This poem was first published in I Go to the Ruined Place: Contemporary Poems in Defense of Global Human Rights (Lost Horse Press), edited by Melissa Kwasny and M.L Smoker.

Scott Hightower's third collection of poems, Part of the Bargain, received the 2004 Hayden Carruth Award. His translations from Spanish poetry have garnered a Willis Barnstone Translation Prize. Besides NYU, he has taught at Drew University, F.I.T., Fordham, and Poets House. He contributes book reviews to Fogged Clarity and The Brooklyn Rail and is a contributing editor to The Journal. A native of central Texas, Hightower lives in New York City and sojourns in Spain.

Hightower was on the panel The Poet As Historian in the 21st Century: A Rare Opportunity in Difficult Times at Split This Rock Poetry Festival: Poems of Provocation & Witness 2010.

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

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Poem of the Week: Antoinette Brim

Let Daylight Come (Little Rock, circa 2008)

-after Jane Kenyon

Let the moon untangle itself

from the clothesline, as coming daylight

diminishes its lamp to memory.

Let the cicada vow silence

as a woman stirs her grits

and beats her eggs. Let daylight come.

Let school children shuffle into yellow

buses. Let the asphalt roll out black

into the distance. Let daylight come.

Let the dew dry to ash on the brow

of a man. Let traffic thunder across

the overpass above his head. Let daylight come.

To his bottle in the ditch, to his cardboard

and crayon, to the cough in his lungs,

let daylight come.

Let it come, as it will, and don't

be afraid. This, too, is the day

the Lord has made, so let daylight come.

-Antoinette Brim

Used by permission.

Antoinette Brim, author of Psalm of the Sunflower, is a Cave Canem Foundation fellow, a recipient of the Walker Foundation Scholarship to the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, and a Pushcart Prize nominee. Her work has appeared in various journals, magazines and anthologies.

Brim was part of the Willow Books Reading at Split This Rock Poetry Festival: Poems of Provocation & Witness 2010.

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

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Root's 30 Top Black Performance Poets

To cap off National Poetry Month, The Root recently compiled one badass list of the top Black Performance Poets "who revitalize the art on page and stage." Over here at Split This Rock, we were thrilled to see our beloved Patricia Smith (featured poet at the 2008 and 2010 festivals), and Lenelle Moïse (featured poets at the 2010 festival) make the list.

DC was also finely represented by local favorites and friends: Holly Bass, Sonya Renee Taylor, and Asha Shannon - who just might be the youngest poet on the list at 17, and who recently slammed her way to a spot on the DC Youth Slam Team.

And after experiencing Douglas Kearney on the Poets Rewriting Race Panel at AWP 2011, we have to agree with this pick and The Root's accurate description of Kearney's "unmatchable ability to translate printed stanzas into explosive, endearingly bizarre live shows."

Props to The Root for quite a comprehensive list representing an expanse of styles and voices.

Check out the full list here:

Mark Nowak's May Day post on Harriet

Mark Nowak, a featured poet at Split This Rock 2010, labor activist, cultural critic, Professor at Washington College, Director of the Rose O'Neill Literary House, and good friend recently penned a post at the Poetry Foundation's Harriet Blog. With so much going on at the intersection of poetry and politics, Mark efficiently sheds light on a variety of current projects, poets, conversations, meetings, and movements - all in one fell swoop.

He also makes a little nod to last month's successful Sunday Kind of Love that featured Chicago-based slam poet Kevin Coval and our very own DC Youth Slam Team. This was a collaboration between Split This Rock and the Rose O'Neill Literary House.

And most importantly, Mark gives a little nudge to all you good people out there to get cracking on your proposal submissions for Split This Rock 2012! He wants to see you there - and so do we!

Thanks, Mark!

Check out his post here:

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Poem of the Week: Reginald Harris

for Shara McCallum

walk long enough

with a pebble in your shoe

and walking with a pebble becomes


you no longer notice

the discomfort
...........the limp is just
another thing to live with
pain just another fact of life

until someone you haven’t seen for a time

asks......Why are you limping
and you remember

Oh yes, that’s right

I have a pebble in my shoe

and then what do you do

take it out
.......leave it in because
you are used to its dull and constant ache
do not want to learn how to walk properly again

live long enough

with war

and it becomes

men and women you don’t know –

someone else’s children –

fly off the edges of the map

to places you were never taught existed

photos of the dead close out
nightly news programs
.........a familiar tag-
line as the anchor signs off

until tomorrow

images of troops march across

a strange topography....the sound of guns

going off in places so distant

you hardly notice
........ one barely hears a noise

until someone says
We’ve been at war my entire adult life

and you remember

Oh, yes, that’s right

there IS a war still going on

And then what do you do?

-Reginald Harris

Used by permission.

Poetry in the Branches Coordinator for Poets House in New York City, Reginald Harris was a Finalist for a Lambda Literary Award and the ForeWord Book of the Year for 10 Tongues: Poems (2001). A Pushcart Prize Nominee and recipient of Individual Artist Awards for both poetry and fiction from the Maryland State Arts Council, his work has appeared in numerous journals, anthologies, and other publications. Contributor to LGBTQ America Today: An Encyclopedia (2008), he is currently pretending to work on two manuscripts.

Harris was on the panels Gay and Lesbian Poetry in the 40th Year Since Stonewall: History, Craft, Equality and Black LGBTQ Writing as Agents of Change at Split This Rock Poetry Festival: Poems of Provocation & Witness 2010.

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

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

May Sunday Kind of Love - Virginia Crawford & Ishion Hutchinson

g Virginia Crawford & Ishion Hutchinson

May 15th, 2011▪ 5-7 PM

Busboys & Poets
14th& V Streets, NW ▪ Washington, DC

Hosted by Katy Richey and Sarah Browning

Open Mic to follow the features! ▪ Suggested donation: $5

Virginia Crawford is the author of Touch (2011, Finishing Line Press) and co-editor of the anthology Poetry Baltimore. She is a teacher with the Maryland State Arts Council’s Poets in the Schools program. Crawford’s poems have been published in numerous journals, including Gargoyle, Baltimore Review, Maryland Poetry Review and Potomac: Journal of Poetry and Politics. She is co-editing an anthology of student poetry with Laura Shovan.

Ishion Hutchinson was born in Port Antonio, Jamaica. His work has appeared in several journals in the USA and abroad. Peepal Tree Press (UK) published his first book, Far District, spring 2010. He is a Pirogue Fellow and currently teaches at the University of Baltimore and Maryland Institute College of Art. Read a terrific interview with Ishion here:

Co-Sponsored by Split This Rock & Busboys and Poets

For more information:, 202-787-5210

Monday, May 2, 2011

The case against the Colombian free trade pact

Courageous activists and leaders have struggled, suffered and remained steadfast in a country where grassroots organizers have been systematically and brutally eliminated for years. If they can continue to speak out, we should too. If they can remain vocally united in their opposition to the FTA, Americans should educate themselves and unite in opposition as well. The United States-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement should be stopped in its tracks now, before it's too late.

- Baltimore poet and activist Kim Jensen, author of last week's Poem of the Week, on the reality of life in Colombia and the importance of opposing the Colombia Free Trade Act, in the Baltimore Sun. Read the whole piece here.