Thursday, October 25, 2007


Help Us Build the Republic of Poetry

Dear Friend,

In the republic of poetry,
the guard at the airport
will not allow you to leave the country
until you declaim a poem for her
and she says Ah! Beautiful.

- Martín Espada, “The Republic of Poetry”

Now that’s my kind of republic, one that values the beauty and power of the word above the ugly indignity of the metal detector. Will you help us build it?

Support Split This Rock at

For four days in March, poets will be descending on our city, helping make it a true republic of poetry. Split This Rock Poetry Festival: Poems of Provocation & Witness will hit the streets of Washington on the fifth anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq, March 20-23, 2008. We’ll be giving readings, learning from one another in workshops, panels, and meet-ups, celebrating the rich history of socially engaged poetry in DC. Poets from all over the country will be converging, demanding an end to this immoral war and a dramatic reordering of our priorities here at home – to save our planet, restore our civil liberties, meet our pressing human needs.

Some of the most celebrated and important poets of our time will be reading and participating. DC poets Chris August, Kenneth Carroll, Grace Cavalieri, Joel Dias-Porter (aka DJ Renegade), Brian Gilmore, Semezdin Mehmedinović, E. Ethelbert Miller, Princess of Controversy, Susan Tichy, and Belle Waring will be joined on stage by Jimmy Santiago Baca, Lucille Clifton, Mark Doty, Martín Espada, Carolyn Forché, Sam Hamill, Joy Harjo, Galway Kinnell, Naomi Shihab Nye, Sharon Olds, Alix Olson, Alicia Ostriker, Ishle Yi Park, Sonia Sanchez, Patricia Smith, and Pamela Uschuk.


Our vision for the festival includes a youth poetry contest, poetry in the streets, poetry walking tours, poetry films, poetry activism, poetry parties. Registration will cost only $75, with many scholarships available. We are calling poets to a greater role in public life, to build the republic of poetry.

All of this, however, costs money. We need to cover the airfare for our featured poets, to house and feed them. We need to cover publicity and printing costs, and more. Much of our support so far has been from individuals like yourself who believe that poetry matters, that the work of poets in a time of war is as important as ever.

Please contribute whatever you can. $500 will cover airfare for one of our far-away poets. $100 will cover a night’s lodging. Give $100 or more and you’ll be thanked in the festival program. And all donors will be thanked on the website. Every dollar is tax-deductible through our fiscal sponsor the Institute for Policy Studies. Just click here: and be sure to designate “Split This Rock” as the project you’d like to support.

Or send a check payable to “IPS/Split This Rock” to:

1112 16th Street, NW, Suite 600
Washington, DC 20036

Thank you! Onward to the republic of poetry!

With deep gratitude,

Sarah Browning and the Coordinating Committee of Split This Rock

ps – Want to get involved in organizing the festival? We’d love to have you on board! Just send us a completed volunteer form, available on the site:

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