Friday, December 28, 2012

Poem of the Week: Patricia Monaghan

Red-Tailed Hawk    

Just past dawn in early fall,
a sparrow screamed at me
as I walked into the woods.

I did not grasp the warning.

Beside the dry creekbed,
I stopped at the shore
of a dark pool of silence.

At its center, a hawk.

Five feet away, chevrons
and arrows on his chest,
talons and beak like knives.

He stared at me. I stared at him.

At that moment, to the east,
men were debating ways to kill.
In the forest, deadly beauty.

I had never seen a hawk so close.

He looked left and right, his beak
a cruel and graceful curve.
His chest heaved in a breath, a sigh.

He flew straight at me.

I could not move. His wings
were as wide as I am tall.
I simply stood and waited.  

He veered away,

alighted in a nearby tree.
Wonder filled me, rushing in
like water down a dry streambed.

Hawk, I whispered, hawk,

and stared straight at him,
into his hard eyes.
Hawk, my heart sang, hawk,

a word of death and life

in balance, a word of death  
and hunger and fierce pain
and beauty and devouring.

I spoke the name of one

who wastes no life, who knows no
anger, whose strength is pure, whose
only weapon is his feathered self.

Hawk, I whispered, hawk. 

-Patricia Monaghan

from Homefront (WordTech Editions, 2005). 
Used by permission.

Patricia Monaghan (1946-2012) died on November 11, 2012 in her Wisconsin home, Brigit Rest, in the arms of her beloved husband Michael McDermott. Homefront is a collection about the effect of war on veterans' return to their families and the damage to both. Patricia was a poet, scholar, spiritual pioneer and practitioner, activist, gardener and endlessly energetic creator. 

Patricia co-founded the Black Earth Institute with Michael and recently co-founded the Association for the Study of Women and Mythology. The Institute is dedicated to artists serving the causes of inclusive spirituality, healing and protecting the earth and social justice. Patricia published over 20 books including many of poetry.  She was awarded a Pushcart Prize among many others. She was also an active supporter of Split This Rock.

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, December 21, 2012

Save the Date: February 17, 2013 - 10 Years of Mourning & Protest

In early 2003, millions of people all over the globe took to the streets to oppose President George W. Bush’s plan to invade Iraq. Poets responded by organizing a great uprising, Poets Against the War. 

In DC, Sarah Browning organized an open mic reading at All Souls Unitarian Church on February 12, hoping that poets of all sorts would join together to speak out for peaceful alternatives. Sarah didn’t know what to expect, though, as she’d only recently arrived in the city. 

To her astonishment, over 175 people turned out, with 60 signing up to read and perform. DC Poets Against the War was born. Five years later, in 2008, the group presented the first Split This Rock Poetry Festival, giving birth to a national movement bringing poetry to the center of public life, where it belongs! 

Join us for Sunday Kind of Love at 14th and V Busboys and Poets February 17, 2013, 5-7 pm, as we mark the 10th anniversary of DC Poets Against the War and protest and mourn the great tragedy of the Iraq War. We will raise a toast of gratitude to Sam Hamill, the founder of this great movement of poets.

Poets active in the group will read their own work and the poetry of the missing voices: Iraqi poets, Afghan poets, and essential US poets we’ve lost since 2003, such as Adrienne Rich, Lucille Clifton, Grace Paley, Ann Knox, and Dennis Brutus. 

Featuring: Sarah Browning, Michele Elliott, Yael Flusberg, Leah Harris, Esther Iverem, Joseph Ross, Melissa Tuckey, and Dan Vera.

Here's a poem from that time, by Ann B. Knox, a DC poet whose loss we feel keenly still:

This Moment

            Read in front of the White House February 12, 2003

We meet in this wind-harsh square
            with some expectation,
some hope our presence will count,
            our voices be heard.

We speak from what we know
            and we know no poem
stirs from a closed mind.
            Has the mailed fist
so closed on its own purpose
            we speak to stone?

Pay attention, our words matter,
            these bare trees matter,
the Potomac flowing black
            under white ice matters,
kids, woods, a leashed dog,
            poems matter.

All our lives converge
            on this moment
and what follows tonight,
            tomorrow, next week
will change our whole
            desperate earth.

We are grateful to Busboys and Poets for lead sponsorship of this event and others marking the 10th anniversary of the war in Iraq and the fifth anniversary of Split This Rock!

Latino/a Poetry Books Published in 2012

Letras Latinas : A Year in Poetry

American Copia: An Immigrant Epic (Arte Publico Press)
Javier O. Huerta

Al Norte (UNAN-Leon)
Leon Salvatierra

¡Ban This! The BSP Anthology of Xican@ Literature (Broken Swords Press)
Ed. by Santiago J. Rivera

City of Slow Dissolve (University of New Mexico Press)
John Chavez

Codex of Journeys: Bendito Camino (Mouthfeel Press)
Liliana Valenzuela

Conjuro (Mammoth Publications)
Xánath Caraza

Corazón Pintado (TL Press)
Xánath Caraza

Crazy Chicana in Catholic City (Conundrum Press)
Juliana Aragón Fatula

Culture of Flow (Monkey Puzzle Press)
Tim Z. Hernandez

The Foundling Wheel (Four Way Books)
Blas Falconer

GHOSTLINES (Radioactivemoat)
Lucas de Lima

The Glimmering Room (Four Way Books)
Cynthia Cruz

Goodbye, Flicker (University of Massachusetts Press)
Carmen Giménez Smith

In the Company of Spirits (Press 53)
Carmen Calatayud

How Fire is a Story, Waiting (Tía Chucha Press)
Melinda Palacio

Looking for the Gulf Motel (University of Pittsburgh Press)
Richard Blanco

The Lust of Unsentimental Waters (Shearsman Books)
Rosa Alcalá

This Side of Wonder (Ambermoon Press)
Marcelo Hernandez

Slow Lightning (Yale University Press)
Eduardo C. Corral

South Pole / Polo Sur (Settlement House)
María Teresa Ogliastri

The Seed Bank (Mouthfeel Press)
Gabriel Gomez

Rebozos (Wings Press)
Carmen Tafolla

Twitching Heart (CreativeSpace)
Matt Méndez

When My Brother Was an Aztec (Copper Canyon Press)
Natalie Diaz

The Wind’s Archeology / La arqueologia del viento (Vasos Rotos Ediciones)
Luis Alberto Ambroggio

Poem of the Week: Gowri Koneswaran

Gowri Koneswaran
Photo by: Les Talusan


we're taught to hold hands 
when we cross the street
or walk with our mothers in parking lots or
navigate crowds with a friend and
don't want to come out alone 

hold hands with whomever is closest
when the power goes out 
when the sirens come near
when the moving of men marches
silences into the corner 

hold hands when
they come calling, 
when they threaten, 
"this is necessary to
teach you a lesson" or
"this is necessary 
to protect you" 

hold hands when we stand still,
when we walk, when
we run
when they tell us to
when they tell us
to do anything 

hold hands when we
fall from the sky,
with or without parachute
when we leap from tall buildings,
with or without
the ability to fly 

hold hands with the ones who
look like us,
talk like us,
believe like us 

hands like fragile boxes or bombs, 
things that could break or explode 

each finger a troop in the human army 
each gesture a shield 

-Gowri Koneswaran

Used by permission.
Gowri Koneswaran is a Sri Lankan Tamil American poet, singer and lawyer. Her advocacy has addressed animal welfare, the environment, and the rights of prisoners and the criminally accused. She was a Lannan Fellow of the Folger Shakespeare Library and a member of the 2010 DC Southern Fried Slam team, and has performed at Lincoln Center Out of Doors, the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage and the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. Gowri’s poetry has appeared in Beltway Poetry QuarterlyBourgeon and Lantern Review. She leads poetry and communications workshops and hosts open mics at Busboys and Poets and BloomBars in Washington, DC, where she serves as poetry coordinator. She is also a poetry editor with Jaggery: A DesiLit Arts and Literature Journal. Gowri tweets on-the-spot haiku @gowricurry.

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, December 14, 2012

Poem of the Week: Brian Fanelli

Brian Fanelli
Photo by: Susan Jaffer

Political Soundtrack   
Every Sunday, I came dressed in punk rocker black,
checkered pants, steel-toed Docs.
No tie dye on me when I joined
the Chester County Peace Movement.
I lined up at the corner of High and Market,
still and silent, even when City Hall suits sneered hippies,
the Chester County Victory Movement chanted troop-haters,
the families in SUVs blared horns and shouted unpatriotic.

High-gel hair attorneys glared.
Some protestors stepped back and whispered,
Is he here to join us or blow up the courthouse?
But my combat boots hadn't marched on the sands of Iraq.
I was always the one to break up brawls,
mute my guitar if circle pits exploded into fights.

As protestors marched and sang
Dylan's prophetic "The Times They Are A Changin'"
and Lennon's piano-laced "Imagine,"
I heard the words of Joe Strummer:
You'll be dead when your war is won,
and Dead Kennedys' singer Jello Biafra:
There's easy money, easy jobs,
especially when you build the bombs
that blow big cities off the map.
I stood still even when pushed
by a Victory Movement thug jabbing
his finger in my chest and screaming,
You don't have the balls to fight in Iraq!
I plugged my ears with my I-pod and listened
to Henry Rollins roar over sloppy Black Flag chords:
Try to stop us. It's no use.
We're gonna rise above, rise above.

-Brian Fanelli
Used by permission.

Brian Fanelli resides in Pennsylvania and teaches creative writing at Keystone College. His poems have appeared in Boston Literary Magazine, Harpur Palate, The Portland Review, Solstice Literary Magazine, San Pedro River Review, Red Rock Review, and elsewhere. He is the author of one chapbook, Front Man, and his first full-length collection will be published in 2013 through Unbound Content. A contributing editor to Poets' Quarterly, Brian has an M.F.A. from Wilkes University and has done readings throughout the tri-state area.   
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, December 7, 2012

Poem of the Week: Rachel M. Simon

Rachel Simon  
Postmark from the Transition  
the name altered from parent's choosing
the threshold of a home
white gloves on the windowsill
costumes of our drama
soup stock of animal and stone
thigh, syringe
non-ninety degree staircase
redistribution of fats
your mother's voice in the next room
orphaned pair of pants
disappearing ink dots
recollections of family hot fudge
rigid posture attempts
dude descending a staircase
handclasp, handshake, embrace
-Rachel M. Simon

Used by permission.

Rachel M. Simon is the author of the poetry collection Theory of Orange and the chapbook Marginal Road. She teaches writing and gender studies courses at Bedford Hills Maximum Security Correctional Facility, SUNY Purchase College, Pace University and various libraries. She's currently at work on a collection of sports poems. 
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, December 5, 2012

Celebrate Sarah Browning & Split This Rock on 12/15

Tis the Give!

Top 10 Reasons to Support Split This Rock

1. Split This Rock Poetry Festival is transformative—poetry by and for the 99%We put Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple, and Rachel McKibbens, Women of the World Slam Champion, on the same stage, bringing together poets from across the spectrum—young and old, LGBT and straight, all races and ethnicities, all poetic styles. Affordable, accessible, inspiring, rich, and community building—this festival is a ‘must-attend’ event for ALL. – Maria  Luisa Arroyo

2. Split This Rock is revitalizing poetry as a living, breathing art form

We promote poetry that awakens us from our slumber and welcomes us to the table of creative democracy—poetry by America’s new voices, wild voices, essential voices. Our curated Poem-of-the-Week series brings this jagged, glad music to thousands across the country.

3. We’re helping DC youth raise their Brave New Voices
Split This Rock Teaching Artists work with students at the intersection of creative writing and social justice, reaching over 300 students through after-school poetry clubs, weekly writing workshops, and monthly open mics and poetry slams. This year the DC Youth Slam Team doubled the students we sent to the Brave New Voices International Poetry Slam Festival, finishing in the top 10 of over 50 teams!

4. Split This Rock weaves poetry into movements for social change
Our mantra, by Martín Espada, is: Let the blasphemy be spoken: poetry can save us. We publish poems in conjunction with Foreign Policy in Focus and the Institute for Policy Studies and present them during the Global Day of Action on Military Spending, the Letelier-Moffitt Human Rights Award, the Abortion Care Network’s annual conference, Metro Teen AIDS programs, and more.

5. We build audiences for provocative, visionary poetry
What do Richard Blanco, Mahogany Browne, Tarfia Faizullah, Aracelis Girmay, Terrance Hayes, Brenda Hillman, and Patricia Smith have in common? They’ve all read at Sunday Kind of Love, Split This Rock’s monthly series, now celebrating its 7th year! Presented in partnership with DC’s premiere poetry venue, Busboys and Poets, Sunday Kind of Love is the most diverse reading series in the city—and perhaps in the country—showcasing poetry that tells the true stories of our time.

6. Split This Rock’s youth voices speak for justice!
Split This Rock’s Youth Programs are building partnerships around the city and around the world. The young poets speak out against police brutality, economic inequality, and homophobia. Their What Are You Afraid Of? Campaigns challenge their peers to identify and resist oppression, bridging divides between communities. Whether performing at the Kennedy Center or working with artists from Brazil, our students are raising their voices for justice and peace.

7. Split This Rock poets tell the true stories of our time
Hundreds of poets submit each year to our annual contest, judged by such luminaries as Naomi Shihab Nye, Patricia Smith, and Mark Doty. Their poems cut through the stultifying language of political propaganda to tell the complex stories of how we live today: how race and gender and history shape our identities; the enduring legacy of slavery and colonialism; the devastation of war and its aftermath; how we might save ourselves and our home, this earth.