Friday, January 30, 2009


Split This Rock 2009 Poetry Contest

Benefits Split This Rock Poetry Festival - Washington, DC, March 10-13, 2010$1,000 awarded for poems of provocation & witness

Patricia Smith, Judge
Deadline: March 9, 2009 (postmark)

Split This Rock is pleased to announce our second annual poetry contest, to be judged by National Book Award finalist Patricia Smith. First place $500; 2nd and 3rd place, $250 each. Winning poems will be published on, and the 1st-place winner will be invited to read winning poem at Split This Rock Poetry Festival, 2010.

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, government, war, leadership; issues of identity (gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, disability, body image, immigration, cultural heritage, etc.); community, civic engagement, education, activism; and poems about history, Americana, cultural icons. Read the winning poems from 2008 here:

Submission guidelines:
- Send up to 3 unpublished poems, no more than 6 pages total, in any style, in the spirit of Split This Rock (see above).
- Staple one cover page to your submissions containing your name, address, phone number, email, and the titles of your poems. This is the only part of the submission which should contain your name.
- Enclose a check or money order for $25 (made out to "Split This Rock") to:
Split This Rock Poetry Contest, c/o Institute for Policy Studies, 1112 16th Street NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20036
- Simultaneous submissions OK, but please notify us immediately if the poem is accepted elsewhere.
- Postmark deadline: March 9, 2009.
- For more details, contact

Patricia Smith, author, poet, teacher, performer, is the author of five books of poetry: Blood Dazzler (Coffee House Press, 2008), a book of poems chronicling the tragedies of Hurricane Katrina; Teahouse of the Almighty (Coffee House Press, 2006), a 2005 National Poetry Series selection, winner of the 2007 Paterson Poetry Prize, and finalist for the 2007 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award; Close to Death (1993); Big Towns, Big Talk (1992); and Life According to Motown (1991). In addition, she has authored the history "Africans In America" and the children's book Janna and the Kings. Smith's work has appeared in Poetry, The Paris Review, TriQuarterly, and many other journals. She is a National Book Award Finalist, Pushcart Prize winner, Cave Canem faculty member, and four-time individual champion of the National Poetry Slam, the most successful poet in the competition's history.

Thursday, January 29, 2009


Reading in Chicago, Childhood Home

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


Global War on Terror's End?

From the very smart and ever thoughtful John Feffer, Co-Director of Foreign Policy in Focus:

Last week, shortly after being inaugurated, President Barack Obama ended the "global war on terror" (GWOT). Or so The Washington Post reported. The new president countermanded the Bush administration's extralegal approaches by mandating the closure of Guantánamo within a year, outlawing the use of torture in interrogations, and putting the CIA out of the secret prisons business. Obama announced that he wanted to "send an unmistakable signal that our actions in defense of liberty will be as just as our cause."

Sounds good. But the Post's declaration might be just as premature as President George W. Bush's infamous "Mission Accomplished" speech on the USS Lincoln that signaled the "end" of the Iraq War.

On the civil liberties front, for instance, the administration retains the right to use renditions, by which the CIA secretly abducted suspects and transferred them to third countries without trial. "I think it's a glaring hole," Vincent Warren of the Center for Constitutional Rights said last week on Democracy Now! "I think that one way that the Obama administration could have dealt a more decisive blow to the illegal Bush policies and even the rendition policy, which originated under Bill Clinton, is to specifically reference this and to say that we are going to disavow this."
Also, the inmates at the Bagram air base in Afghanistan, which holds more prisoners than Gitmo, and the thousands held in Iraq won't get the case-by-case review accorded to their counterparts in Cuba. Non-military agencies like the CIA, after a six-month review, might get "additional or different guidance" on interrogations - and who knows what that means. And, as Politico points out, the guy in charge of the 30-day review of Gitmo is the same fellow who was in charge for the last two years - Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. That's not exactly a recipe for reform.

But even if Obama holds to his word on torture, closes Guantánamo within the year, applies the same yardstick to detainees at Bagram and in Iraq, and eliminates the Clinton-era policy on extraordinary rendition, the death of the "global war on terror," as Mark Twain once said of his own prematurely published obituary, is greatly exaggerated. Indeed, on the day after it published GWOT's obituary, The Washington Post reported on two U.S. unilateral air strikes in Pakistan that killed 20 suspected terrorists. Although it observed an uncharacteristic silence over these strikes, the Pakistani government has previously expressed outrage at these violations of its sovereignty.

Then there's Afghanistan, which will be the new epicenter of U.S. counterterrorism strategy. Here's the relevant excerpt from the official White House statement on foreign policy: "Obama and Biden will refocus American resources on the greatest threat to our security - the resurgence of al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan. They will increase our troop levels in Afghanistan, press our allies in NATO to do the same, and dedicate more resources to revitalize Afghanistan's economic development."

Why does Obama believe that he can escape the same outcome in Afghanistan that Bush faced in Iraq? As former Democratic presidential nominee George McGovern argued in a recent appeal for a five-year "time-out" on war, "In 2003, the Bush administration ordered an invasion of Iraq, supposedly to reduce terrorism. But six years later, there is more terrorism and civil strife in Iraq, not less. The same outcome may occur in Afghanistan if we make it the next American military conflict."

So, is this a kinder, gentler GWOT? Certainly the new Obama administration is more concerned about observing international law. It's more prudent in its willingness to use diplomacy over force. But so far at least, the new president still treats terrorism as a war to be won rather than an endemic problem to be dealt with, patiently and largely by law enforcement agencies. We're still at war in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and for the time being in Iraq. We're still selling arms to Indonesia, Israel, and Colombia as part of an overall counterterrorism approach. The Pentagon's new Africa Command (AFRICOM) still looks at counterterrorism through a military lens.

Sounds to me like we haven't seen the last of GWOT quite yet.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Split This Rock at AWP in Chicago - Join us!

Dear Friends,

Here at Split This Rock we are excited and moved by the possibilities presented by our new president, Barack Obama. We loved seeing Bush and Cheney whisked away by helicopter. They are gone from our city. We’d like to see them in jail, but for the moment we’ll settle for gone.

We know that all of you helped our country arrive at this historic moment and we are grateful for your vision, dedication, and tireless efforts. We also know that social change never rains down from above but grows up from the roots, from all of us. There is much to be done to build justice and peace. We recommit ourselves and Split This Rock to this essential work. We hope you will continue to walk with us on this road.

Our first opportunity to meet up in 2009 is just a few weeks away in Chicago. If you’ll be at AWP, please join Split This Rock. Sarah Browning is coming in from Italy and we’re planning several events, including a reading on Thursday night, February 12. Stop by Table #309 to say hello, learn about the next festival in 2010, and pick up guidelines to the 2009 contest, judged by National Book Award Finalist and 2008 Split This Rock poet Patricia Smith. (Guidelines are also online at:

At the table, you can pick up your invitation to Split This Rock’s reception at Saturday’s cocktail hour. Please plan to join us for food, drinks and networking from 5-8 pm that evening. We’ll also have book signings and postcards to the new president – bring, or compose on the spot, your haikus of hope for President Obama! Details on all the happenings, below.

If you have a few free hours at AWP, please consider volunteering at the table. It’s a great way to meet people and hear about the exciting work socially engaged poets are doing all over the country. You’ll also be on the receiving end of a lot of our gratitude, a terrific way to start the new era. To volunteer, please contact Sarah at Thanks!

Looking forward to seeing you soon,
Melissa, Sarah, Regie, and Jaime
Split This Rock


From Chocolate to Chi: DC Poets in Chicago
Thursday, February 12 at 7:00 pm

Poetry reading by Sarah Browning, Regie Cabico, Sage Morgan Hubbard, John Murillo, Kim Roberts, and Melissa Tuckey

Insight Arts, 1545 W. Morse Ave., Chicago, IL (773) 973-1521, Free admission. Open mic as well as the featured readers. Insight Arts is in Roger’s Park on Chicago’s Northside, near Northwestern and Loyola Universities, half a block from the Morse redline stop.

Sarah Browning is author of Whiskey in the Garden of Eden. She co-directs Split This Rock Poetry Festival with Melissa Tuckey, author of Rope as Witness. Regie Cabico is a Def Poetry Jam veteran and Artistic Director of Sol & Soul, an arts and social change organization in DC. Sage Morgan Hubbard is a graduate student at Northwestern University and a teacher with Young Chicago Authors, Sol & Soul, and DC WritersCorps. John Murillo is a two time Larry Neal Writers’ Award winner, a New York Times Poetry Fellow, and Cave Canem alum. Kim Roberts is the author most recently of The Kimnama and editor of Beltway Poetry Quarterly.


Split This Rock Reception
Saturday, February 14, 5-8 pm
Undisclosed Location
Free food and drink!

Please join us for a reception as AWP winds down. It’s a chance to network and get to know one another better, be part of discussions about the ever-evolving Split This Rock, and share with us your ideas and suggestions for how the organization can serve your needs. Stop by Table #309 for your invitation containing location details.


Book Signing by Kim Roberts, The Kimnama
Saturday, February 14, 10:30 am
Table #309

KIM ROBERTS is the editor of Beltway Poetry Quarterly and author of two books of poems, The Kimnama (Vrzhu Press, 2007), and The Wishbone Galaxy (Washington Writers Publishing House, 1994). She is the recipient of grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the DC Commission on the Arts, and the Humanities Council of Washington. She was awarded a 2008 Independent Voice Award from the Capital BookFest.


2009 Split This Rock Poetry Contest Guidelines now online!

Split This Rock is pleased to announce its second annual poetry contest, to be judged by National Book Award finalist Patricia Smith. First place $500; 2nd and 3rd place, $250 each. Winning poems will be published on, and the 1st-place winner will be invited to read the winning poem at Split This Rock Poetry Festival, 2010. Reading fee of $25 benefits 2010 Split This Rock Poetry Festival. Deadline: March 9, 2009. For full guidelines: or stop by Table #309 at AWP in Chicago.


Volunteer at Split This Rock’s Table at AWP

If you can offer a few hours of your time greeting people at the bookfair, please contact Sarah at You’ll be teamed up with another volunteer and provided plenty of information and support. Plus, you’ll get lots of praise and thanks from us – priceless!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Elizabeth Alexander's Inaugural Poem

Praise Song for the Day
by Elizabeth Alexander

Each day we go about our business,
walking past each other, catching each other’s
eyes or not, about to speak or speaking.

All about us is noise. All about us is
noise and bramble, thorn and din, each
one of our ancestors on our tongues.

Someone is stitching up a hem, darning
a hole in a uniform, patching a tire,
repairing the things in need of repair.

Someone is trying to make music somewhere,
with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum,
with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.

A woman and her son wait for the bus.
A farmer considers the changing sky.
A teacher says, Take out your pencils. Begin.

We encounter each other in words, words
spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed,
words to consider, reconsider.

We cross dirt roads and highways that mark
the will of some one and then others, who said
I need to see what’s on the other side.

I know there’s something better down the road.
We need to find a place where we are safe.
We walk into that which we cannot yet see.

Say it plain: that many have died for this day.
Sing the names of the dead who brought us here,
who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges,

picked the cotton and the lettuce, built
brick by brick the glittering edifices
they would then keep clean and work inside of.

Praise song for struggle, praise song for the day.
Praise song for every hand-lettered sign,
the figuring-it-out at kitchen tables.

Some live by love thy neighbor as thyself,
others by first do no harm or take no more
than you need. What if the mightiest word is love?

Love beyond marital, filial, national,
love that casts a widening pool of light,
love with no need to pre-empt grievance.

In today’s sharp sparkle, this winter air,
any thing can be made, any sentence begun.
On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp,

praise song for walking forward in that light.

Copyright © 2009 by Elizabeth Alexander. All rights reserved. Reprinted with the permission of Graywolf Press, Saint Paul, Minnesota. A chapbook edition of Praise Song for the Day will be published on February 6, 2009.


Inauguration Day in Torino

Tom and Ben and I were invited to a Birthday Party/Inauguration Watching Gathering last night at the home of one of Ben’s classmates. At the last minute Tom’s colleague Jennifer, whose son Alberto goes to the school and who introduced us there, had to cancel, as Alberto wasn’t feeling well.

So we were introduced to the mother of the birthday boy outside school at pick-up time and set off on foot through the ice and slush along the river with her and a posse of 10-year-olds headed for the party. The family spent several stints in New York over the years and so the parents Valeria and Simone speak excellent English. Phew.

We found ourselves, in fact, in a warm and welcoming environment. Adults arrived in waves from work over the course of the evening. And Valeria brought out wave after wave of food platters: mini panini with salami, prosciutto, or mortadella. Celery stuffed with gorgonzola. Bread sticks, a specialty of Torino. Massive blocks of hard cheese. Warm little pastry envelopes filled with apricot jam and sprinkled with sugar. Birthday cake, of course. Little marinara pizzettas, just red sauce. Endive with pomegranate seeds. And bottle after bottle of wine – red, white, prosecco.

Valeria waited until it was clear we were ObamaHeads and then took off the sweater she was wearing to expose her Hope T shirt, with the beautiful red and blue portrait of Obama that’s become so ubiquitous this winter.

We watched the inauguration on CNN on the large TV in the living room. It came via their internet cable, as the Sky satellite dish was malfunctioning. So there were frequent stutters and misses both in the picture and the sound. Moreover, a dozen or more Italian 10-year-olds were rioting through the place. At the very moment that Elizabeth Alexander began her lovely poem the kids brought out their noisemakers and began blowing – in celebration of the birthday boy, the inauguration, or for the sheer joy of making the loudest noise possible.

It was surreal to watch such a momentous event in such a chaotic environment. But I loved it. The mood was festive and celebratory and not somber, as it might have been at home. We met fascinating people: a science journalist for Italian TV who had to leave the party early to go home and write something on Obama and stem cell research, energy, and environment for today’s show. Her husband, not in attendance, is a member of parliament from Torino, in a left-wing party. Laura began to tell me the history of left electoral politics in Italy, why it has been so fractured. I want to get more clarity on this, but I did understand that there were many smaller parties in the past, then they tried uniting into one large party, the Partita Democratica. But that experiment has been a failure, according to Laura, and there is talk again of breaking apart, to come together in coalition in the future.

Simone, our host, is a professor at the University of Gastronomic Sciences, leading a masters program in food studies that combines history, anthropology, sociology, and sciences. It’s affiliated with Slow Food University in nearly Bra. He also teaches in an American Studies program at another university, as his own field is the experience of Italian immigration to the US and the history (I think I got this right) of Italian food there.

Our other host Valeria is a tour guide. We met two auto engineers (Fiat headquarters are here) and a yoga instructor. Almost everyone spoke marvelous, idiomatic English. It made me ashamed of my pathetic Italian. Though I was able to discuss the lunches at Ben’s school with the monolingual grandma: Schifoso, my son says, disgusting, I told her. Yes, Ferdi says the same, she agreed. Italy’s Worst Cooks, we call them. You must complain, she says. Protesta. All together.

Tom and I drank too much and I cried during Aretha Franklin’s My Country Tis of Thee (and thank God she didn’t sing God Bless America) and Tom blew raspberries at George Bush. Just after the swearing in, the kids marched around the apartment waving American flags. Later, I spotted Ben wearing 6 or 8 of them stuck in his collar and waistband, a gorilla mask over his face. Sadly, no camera.

I always roll my eyes at the speeches and their celebration of an assumed American Exceptionalism. But I felt even more acutely last night the sheer arrogance when Obama declared in ringing tones that American is ready to lead again. Tom called out, You hear that, you Italians, America will be leading you now. Aren’t you pleased? As if America is the nun and Italy and all the other nations are little Madeline and her pals lining up in two straight lines behind. (I’m remembering that Madeline and Co. wreck a certain amount of havoc, so perhaps the comparison is more apt than I suppose.)

But we were the only ones objecting. Italians must be so used to this rhetoric by now that they can’t bother to complain. Or perhaps they were being polite to us. Or the chaos of the party obscured the words. Or they don’t care – like the rest of us they are just grateful for the End of an Error, moved by the election of our first Black president and by the massive outpouring of support from the American people, hopeful for a saner and more just American foreign policy.

A kind soul took pity on us and drove us home, though we live in the exact opposite direction from his house. He spared us a bus ride and a tram ride and waiting in the cold for each of them on their infrequent evening rounds. We have small cars in Italy, he apologized, as we wedged our big American butts into his tiny Fiat. Yes, and thank God, we said. Maybe someday America will learn a thing or two from you.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


E. Ethelbert Miller and Andy Shallal on AP/AOL News

Split This Rock's own E. Ethelbert Miller and Andy Shallal, artist and owner of Busboys and Poets, are both featured in a photo and audio montage of responses to Obama's impending presidency. Miller is heard reading his O Poem. Click here and scroll down to "From I Have a Dream to Yes We Can."


Just Hours Away ...a note from Michael Moore

Hard to be away from DC on this glorious, astonishing day. Almost impossible to write what I feel, so I am sharing a letter from Michael Moore that came into my In box just now. Wishing everyone a celebratory, wonderful ObamaDay!

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009


This happy, happy day!

We have made it through the Dark Ages and here we are, in one of the most redemptive moments history has ever witnessed. Barack Obama is our best hope to get it right, to heal our national soul, to reach out to the rest of the world with an olive branch instead of shocking brutality.

I want to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you who has worked to make this day happen. For many, the madness goes back, not eight years but twenty-eight years, to the tragic day Reagan was sworn in to dismantle our precious "government of the people" and our beloved way of life.

To all of you who have spoken up and spoken out, who have written letters and marched for peace, for all of you who never gave up, you are the true heroes today. Many of you have suffered great economic losses. Some of you have endured a loved one being shipped overseas to senseless and shameful wars, and thousands of you have seen those loved ones returned home, no longer alive. It has been a heartbreaking time.

But the sun comes out at noon today. The disgraced outgoing president will slide out the side door and head to Crawford to sell the Hollywood set known as the Bush "ranch" before he settles down in an exclusive neighborhood in Dallas. I would encourage Mr. Bush to issue one final pardon before noon today -- his own. He had better issue a blanket pardon for all crimes that may have been committed since 2001 by himself, Cheney, Rumsfeld and the whole gang. Serious laws were broken, a war was concocted on a lie, and now, please, justice must be carried out.

So let us move forward and fix the horrible mess we are in. We are fortunate to have a new president who is smart and kind and committed to serving his country. Take a moment today and think about what you can do to join him in helping him do his job. We're all in this together. Our country has been so profoundly wrecked by an administration who decided to mug our constitution and then steal what they can for their Wall Street cronies on the way out the door.
Here is my plea: Let's not leave Barack Obama alone to clean up the mess. As he takes his oath today, please take one yourself -- to work harder than ever to end these wars, create universal health care, save our planet, end poverty, increase knowledge and establish a true government "of, by and for the people" (instead of "of, by and for the lobbyists, the bankers, and the war profiteers").

On a personal note, it's no secret that I have had to suffer an avalanche of hate and attack as I stuck my neck out to simply do my job. Some day I will tell you what the true cost of this has been for me, but not today. Today is a time for celebration and optimism and hope. I'm glad we all lived to see this incredible moment. And I thank each of you for your support of my work and your dedication to our democracy.

12:01pm can't come soon enough!
Happy Inauguration Day!


Michael Moore

Sunday, January 18, 2009


Poems About Museums on Beltway Poetry Quarterly

I'm honored to have a poem included in this terrific issue of Beltway. Here's the announcement from editor Kim Roberts:

Beltway Poetry opens 2009 with a new issue devoted entirely to poems about museums. Thirty-three poets write about museums, historical sites, and other public places devoted to preservation and exhibition. The poems address the institutions and "their collections, their workers, and the many ways in which they fulfill their founders’ hopes of enlarging the scope of civic life," as guest co-editor Maureen Thorson writes in her introduction. "In these poems, poets engage in conversations with artists, their subjects, and with art itself. They stand in witness to the forces of history."

So join us in this luminous collection of poems. Saundra Rose Maley asks King Tut," there a crossing over/ Or is this life just what it is, a sandal strap/At best?" Margaret Yocom speaks in the voice of a man who amassed old logging equipment for a museum in Maine. Kendra Kopelke lets the woman in a Hopper painting speak: " He put me here/like a candle/to ignite the room." Stephen Cushman imagines painter's models, "posing in a yoga twist,/head going one way, torso another." David Gewanter writes of a museum store clerk, " I love to see my mother behind//the counter, tidying up the fossil fish/and reptile rulers." Linda Pastan contemplates death from a safe distance, asking, " Whose skulls are these,/and isn't it dread/that informs our pleasure//in this canvas?"

Poets included:

M.C. Allan * Francisco Aragón * Anne Becker * Mel Belin * Rose Berger * Jody Bolz * Dan Brady * Sarah Browning * Stephen Cushman * Kyle Dargan * Amani Elkassabany * Martin Galvin * Parris Garnier * David Gewanter * Andrew Haley * Reginald Harris * Alan King * Rosemary Klein * Kendra Kopelke * Carolyn Kreiter-Foronda * Mary Ann Larkin * Barbara Lefcowitz * Saundra Rose Maley * Lalita Noronha * Linda Pastan * Ann Rayburn * M.A. Schaffner * Edna Small * Cheryl Snell * Marcela Sulak * Melissa Tuckey * Margaret Yocom * Katherine E. Young
Special thanks to editorial assistants Jessica Roxburgh and Alyssa Schimmel for their work on this issue.

Beltway Poetry Quarterly, now in its ninth year of online publication, is available for free online at


Subscriptions are free. There are two options.

JOURNAL ONLY. If you would like to get email notices four times a year with announcements of new issues, please join our subscription list at Mutual Aid. Go to:

DC LOCAL LISTINGS. Want more? If you would like a subscription PLUS information about readings, calls for entry, and other literary events in the greater DC region, please join our DC list at Mutual Aid. Go to:

Monday, January 12, 2009


Poetry and Conflict: A Message on Gaza from DC Poets Against the War and Split This Rock

With so much power, the hardest thing is not to kill.
-- Aleksandr Kerensky

Dear friends of Split This Rock,

It is with great sadness we greet you as the conflict in Gaza intensifies.

DC Poets Against the War opposes the use of force against civilians and supports the Geneva Convention. We therefore oppose Israel's use of military force in Gaza, the use of rockets as a means to settle disputes, and the use of blockades to prevent food, doctors and medical supplies from entering Gaza. We join the world in calling for an immediate ceasefire and we are disappointed in the Bush administration's refusal to speak out against this massacre.

We recognize that this is an emotional issue for many with friends and relatives living on both sides of the borders. We join the peacemakers in both Palestine and Israel in calling for ceasefire, and diplomacy.

We join peacemakers in calling for a change of direction in US foreign policy towards the Israeli- Palestinian conflict and an end to occupation.

We hope that through constructive dialogue here at home we can develop more nuance, more consensus, more willingness and motivation to work together to end this terrible and ongoing conflict.

Meanwhile, we wanted to share a few resources for those who want to learn more or to act.

For peace and justice,

your friends at
DC Poets Against the War
and Split This Rock


Another Day Will Come

by Mahmoud Darwish

Another Day will come, a womanly day
diaphanous in metaphor, complete in being,
diamond and processional in visitation, sunny,
flexible, with a light shadow. No one will feel
a desire for suicide or for leaving. All
things outside the past, natural and real,
will be synonyms of their early traits. As if time
is slumbering on vacation..."Extend your lovely
beauty-time. Sunbathe in the sun of your silken breasts,
and wait until good omen arrives. Later
we will grow older. We have enough time
to grow older after this day..."/
Another day will come, a womanly day
song like in gesture, lapis in greeting
and in phrase. All things will be feminine outside
the past. Water will flow from rock's bosom.
No dust, no drought, no defeat.
And a dove will sleep in the afternoon in an abandoned
combat tank if it doesn't find a small nest
in the lover's bed.

Translated by Fady Joudah. From: Poets for Palestine, edited by Remi Kanazi.


Activist Organizations and Resources for Peace:

J Street: J Street is the political arm of the pro-Israel, pro-peace movement.

US Campaign to End the Occupation: The US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation is a diverse coalition working for freedom from occupation and equal rights for all by challenging U.S. policy towards the Israeli- Palestinian conflict. The US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation is based on human rights and international law, providing a non-sectarian framework for everyone who supports its Call to Action.

Coalition for Justice and Accountability: A group of activists from the Washington, DC metro area who have come together to resist US and Israeli wars and occupations carried out and maintained with the goal of dominating the Middle East and controlling its land and resources.

Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights: Palestinian NGO in Jabalia refugee camp in Gaza Strip.

Gaza Siege: A site set up for resources related to Gaza, includes background on the Gaza conflict, lots of analysis, Humanitarian aid organizations, etc. (warning graphic front page).

The Jerusalem Fund for Education and Community Development: DC-based organization whose cultural program promotes the work of artists from Palestine as well as from the Arab and Islamic worlds through art exhibits, book signings, film screenings and musical performances.

ACTIONS YOU CAN TAKE - Protests, memorials, and other actions are happening throughout the US (and world). To find an event near you go to:Calendar of Protests


Poets for Palestine
A recently released book of poems and art edited by Remi Kanazi which includes a diverse range of voices, from a peace perspective. If you find this crisis challenging your humanity-- this book is an excellent resource.

Understanding the Palestinian Israeli Conflict, a primer (book) by Phyllis Bennis, available via interlink books. A great resource for understanding the conflict from an international law perspective, with an easy to read Q & A format. A good starting place.

Thursday, January 08, 2009


Funding for the Arts - What More You Can Do

Dear Artists and Supporters of Art,

If you've signed the Split This Rock petition asking that 1% of the stimulus package support the arts, thank you! If you haven't yet, please go here to sign it:

With your support we now have more than 3,000 signatures! Thanks to the Institute for Policy Studies' work on the Hill, the proposal has won support from representative John Conyers and from the progressive caucus who have passed the proposal to Nancy Pelosi. The Obama transition team has also shown some interest.

While this is great progress, it is also true that the halls of Congress are teeming with lobbyists, with many competing interests asking to be included in the stimulus package. So we have to be sure that Congress also hears from artists, writers, and arts supporters. It's time to make some noise!

The House aims to have a draft of their stimulus package by the end of January. What this means is we have about three weeks to make an impact. Here are several things you can do to help ensure the arts aren't left behind:

1. Share the petition with friends and ask them to sign in support:
(Feel free to cut and paste the sample letter below.)

2. Email or call your legislators--US representatives and US senators--to ask that 1% of the stimulus package support the arts. (Cut and paste the sample letter below, if you like.) Find contact information here:

3. Contact the Obama transition team to express your support for the 1% for the arts petition. Submit your ideas to at

4. Be creative! Use your artistic medium to raise awareness about the campaign. Writers--write! Drummers? Drum! Hand out fliers at your next public event. Or organize an arts event in your community to draw attention to this campaign.

5. Post information about the campaign on your blog, or write a letter to the editor to raise awareness about this campaign.

6. Join our Facebook cause--"one percent for the arts campaign: a stimulus plan for the arts" and use the site as an opportunity to network and link up with other arts advocates in your community.

Please share any blogs or events with us at, and we will post links on our website.


Dear Friends,

As you know, Congress is gearing up to pass a $800 billion stimulus package with the goal of creating jobs and stimulating the economy. I am writing to ask that you join Split This Rock's and the Institute for Policy Studies' campaign, calling for 1% of the stimulus package be used to support the arts.

The arts are an integral part of our economy and a vital part of our culture and heritage. Unfortunately, arts programs are often the first to be cut in times of crisis, and many programs have already been cut in our public schools and communities.

Much of the art, music, writing, and theater we appreciate today came from Works Progress Administration funding in the 1930s. WPA funding created thousands of jobs for artists, writers, musicians, theater workers, and performers. Our generation deserves no less.

Sign our petition today, and please share this appeal with friends:



Dear Honorable Representative,

I am writing in support of the Split This Rock and Institute for Policy Studies call that 1% of the stimulus package be used support the arts.

The arts are an integral part of our economy and a vital part of our culture and heritage. Unfortunately, arts programs are often the first to be cut in times of crisis, and many programs have already been cut in our public schools and communities.

Much of the art, music, writing, and theater we appreciate today came from Works Progress Administration funding in the 1930s. WPA funding created thousands of jobs for artists, writers, musicians, theater workers, and performers. Our generation deserves no less. I've joined thousands of artists and arts supporters in signing a petition. To read more, please visit:


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