Festival of Poems of Provocation and Witness
This year marked a milestone for the Biennial Split This Rock Festival, with a record turnout and stellar forums.
The staff and board of Teaching for Change were honored to co-sponsor and coordinate book sales for the 2014 festival of activist poets from all over the country. Hats off to our publications director Don Allen who ensured that all the books were on hand and that staff were at all the venues. The staff included Gavin Hutchison, Grace Wingo, Elena Lacayo, Grace Kaissal, Amrita Wassan, Cat Nguyen, Neha Singhal, and Tristan Brosnan.
The Social Activism Through Poetry and the Arts panel was a Teaching for Change favorite. The panelists included Sheila Black, the editor of Beauty is Not a Verb, Shailja Patel, whose book Migritude sold out, and Sonya Renee, a Split This Rock board member.
Don Allen noted that, “The highlights for me were Danez Smith, Tim Seibles, Shailja Patel, and Malachi Byrd. Byrd is a member of DC Youth Slam Team and son of the Busboys and Poets events team member Alisha Byrd. Smith will have a new book in the fall. We sold out of his chapbook, not surprisingly, because his performance was extraordinary. Seibles led the crowd through an epic 20 minute poem, pulling us along and keeping everyone hanging on every word. I was also enthralled by the panel of The Black Rooster Collective, the precursors of the current U Street Poetry scene – guys who work-shopped and performed their poetry through some of the rough times on U street: Ernesto Mercer, DJ Renegade, Brandon Johnson, and Gary Lilley.”
See the full list of poetry books from the festival.
Photos © 2014 Kristin Adair.