Ever since Sarah Browning, author of Whiskey in the Garden of Eden--a Word Works Hilary Tham Capital Collection book, came to The Word Works 2014 AWP Bookfair table to sign copies of her handsome book and told the Dresser that Washington, DC's Split This Rock Poetry Festival was being promoted in the March edition of Poetry Magazine, the Dresser has had it on her list to let others know. What kicked the Dresser into gear is the March 13 article in The Washington Post entitled "Poetry magazine joins with D.C.'s Split This Rock festival" by Ron Charles.
Sarah, who is the founder of Split This Rock, told the Dresser she had copies of the March edition of Poetry at her AWP table and they were selling quickly. The March edition has over 60 pages dedicated to the work of poets participating in March 27 through March 30 STR poetry festival. Included in this feature are poems by Yusef Komunyakaa, Joy Harjo, Anne Waldman, Wang Ping, Myra Sklarew, and Claudia Rankine just to name a few of the more national known poets. Sheila Black, whom the Dresser had a chance to greet at AWP, leads the feature and her poem "The Red Shoes" can be read on the Poetry Foundation website. Check the online table of contents for other selections featured in the March edition of Poetry.
Selections from the STR feature can also be heard on the Poetry Foundations's March podcast. Notable among the readings is Sarah Browning's reading of Danez Smith's "alternate names for black boys sideshow," a list poem that succeeds in exacting an emotional wallop. Here is how this poem begins:
1. smoke above the burning bush
2. archnemesis of summer night
3. first son of soil
There are 17 points to this poem. Item 15--"(I thought to leave this blank/but who am I to name us nothing?)"--changes the energy and draws the reader closer to the plight of black teenage boys in America. Sarah's goal is to "call poets to a greater role in public life and to foster a national network of socially engaged poets." Ever since she brought Dennis Brutus, a poet who actually split rocks with Nelson Mandela in the Robben Island prison, to the first Split This Rock Festival, Sarah sees her poetry festival as a positive transformative power.
If you, Dear Reader, have issues you follow--for example women's issues, disabilities, wounded warrior, political, racial--there are likely to be panels or poetry readings addressing what interests you at the 2014 Split This Rock Poetry Festival. The Dresser will be blogging the festival as she has since it began 2008.