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Justice for All or None: A Note on This New Era and Possible Coalition

:– I was at The Women’s March on Washington. I did not wear a #pussyhat. I have since purchased a pussyhat, in pink, from a woman who’s donating proceeds from the hats to PBS and NPR. I will wear it with my #BlackLivesMatter and #LGBTQIA and #EqualRightsAmendment pins. –:

I want all these newly energized liberal-or-progressive-mostly-white women to hear the skepticism we are getting from women of color and lgbtqia folk, especially trans women:

  1. They want us to show up FOR them.
  2. The do not want us to save them, or fix their movements.
  3. They want us to help in the background.
  4. They want us to come to their marches and demonstrations* and risk for them, too.

I have been a feminist scholar all my life, and have been knocking around social justice movements primarily for the last five years or so. I have interviewed many women in the Second Wave and recorded those interviews for posterity (visit Va NOW’s YouTube to watch, they’re rough edits).

What is missing, still, from “white feminism” is deep engagement with the particular issues and experiences of other kinds of women.

We have a huge historical opportunity right now to build coalitions like never before, simply because so many more people are energized and realizing they have skin in the game.

“Intersectionality” is a word requesting this support, this space-making, this basic sharing. “Coalition” is about the strategy for doing that, finding our areas of common concern and really being concerned in common.

I am asking us to do a little learning. To deepen not only your action as a citizen, but to deepen your commitment to Justice for All. This country did not begin oppressing people last year. It started from the beginning. There are good historical reasons for many kinds of people not to trust us white women. Historically, we have ditched on them — every time.

Reading. Do some. There’s more here than a person can do, I know. But, do some. Show up with some education. Don’t ask people in these movements to get you hip, get hip, be cool.

Remember, make space: You get to center your issue and your symbol at your march, at your action. When you show up for others, and when you work intersectionally, the focus can’t stay on you all the time.

* There are huge practical and legal differences between planned and permitted marches compared to direct actions and spontaneous demonstrations. The latter two often involve some kind of not-very-serious law breaking — like blocking a street or highway or entrance to a building, etc. Those actions can result in arrest. Not all activists can be available for that, but we can all be available in support roles that do not risk arrest.

+ Full Disclosure: I’m the Poetry & Social Justice Fellow at Split This Rock and the managing editor of The Quarry.

 

From The Quarry & Split This Rock

Poem of the Week

    Teri Ellen Cross Davis     

 
Drought

        — based on a New York Times photograph of a grieving mother during Sudan’s 2005 drought

 

When you were inside me I could feel you thrive
your rounded kicks, my body your taut drum.
Now I beat these breasts, betrayed by a landscape
that wilts, a place where even tears won’t come.
Your rounded kicks in my body’s taut drum
why push, gush blood, why make you,
to wilt in a place where even tears don’t come?
No milk on your lips, your wavering cry
why push, gush blood, why make you?
How do my feet keep going, weighted by
your wavering cry still no milk for your lips,
and you grow lighter day after day?
How do my feet keep going, the weight of
when you were inside me, thrives, when I felt you.
Now you have grown lighter-and day after day
I beat these breasts, blamed, betrayed by this landscape.

* * *

Used with permission. Photo by Mignonette Dooley.

  * * *   

Teri Ellen Cross Davis is a Cave Canem fellow and has attended the Soul Mountain Writer’s Retreat, the Virginia Center for Creative Arts, and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. Her work can be read in: Bum Rush The Page: A Def Poetry JamGathering Ground: A Reader Celebrating Cave Canem’s First Decade, Full Moon on K Street: Poems About Washington, DC; and the following journals: Beltway Poetry QuarterlyGargoyleNatural BridgeTorchPoet Lore and The North American Review. Her first collectionHaint is newly released this month by Gival Press. She lives in Silver Spring, MD.
* * * 
Please feel free to share Split This Rock Poem of the Week widely. We just ask you to include all of the information in this post, including this request. Thanks!
To read more poems of provocation and witness, please visit The Quarry: A Social Justice Poetry Database at SplitThisRock.org.
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Coolest Internships in DC

 

Be part of DC’s premiere poetry event and the only festival of its kind in the country, highlighting poets working at the intersection of the imagination and social change!

Split This Rock Poetry Festival: Poems of Provocation & Witness 2016, to be held April 14-17, 2016, will gather poets, activists, and dreamers in DC for four days of readings, workshops, discussions, youth voices & activism — and YOU CAN BE AT THE HEART OF IT ALL!

AVAILABLE INTERNSHIPS:

  • Registration Assistant: Support the festival registration process
  • Volunteer Manager: Recruit, manage, and coordinate festival volunteers 
  • Marketing Manager: Oversee festival publicity & social media outreach
  • Venue Manager: Work with festival venues to prepare for festival
  • Special Events Manager: Coordinate call to action event, open mics, festival party, and book fair 
  • Fundraising Intern: Supports sponsorship & fundraising efforts

While all internships are unpaid, all interns receive:

  • Free festival registration!
  • Free festival t-shirt!
  • Priceless work experience!
  • Exposure to some of the most significant and artistically vibrant poets today including Amal Al-Jouburi, Jennifer Bartlett, Jan Beatty, Reginald Dwayne Betts, Regie Cabico, Dominique Christina, Martha Collins, Nikky Finney, Ross Gay, Aracelis Girmay, Rigoberto González, Linda Hogan, Dawn Lundy Martin, Craig Santos Perez, and Ocean Vuong – plus, U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera at a special festival kick-off event.

TO APPLY:

Send resume, cover letter, and a brief prose (no poetry please!) writing sample of up to 2 pages to Tiana Trutna at tiana@splitthisrock.org. Positions available till filled and applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

Be Part of the Split This Rock Festival Leadership Team!

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Split This Rock :: Poem of the Week

Jennifer Bartlett

to walk means to fall
to thrust forward

to fall and catch

the seemingly random
is its own system of gestures

based on a series of neat errors
falling and catching

to thrust forward

sometimes the body misses
then collapses

sometimes
it shatters

with this particular knowledge

a movement spastic
and unwieldy

is its own lyric and
the able-bodied are

tone-deaf to this singing some

falling

is of its own grace

some

falling

                         rather occurs

out of laziness or distraction

here, the entire frame is shaken

these are the falls

where I tell myself

you shouldn’t have fallen

I mean to inflict

while the critic of the world watches

o stupid, stupid world

* * * 
This poem is an excerpt from Autobiography/Anti-Autobiography (Theenk, 2014). Used with permission.
* * *

Jennifer Bartlett was born in the San Francisco Bay Area and educated at the University of New Mexico, Vermont College, and Brooklyn College. Bartlett is the author of Derivative of the Moving Image (UNM Press, 2007), (a) lullaby without any music (Chax, 2012), and Autobiography/Anti-Autobiography (Theenk, 2014). Bartlett also co-edited, with Sheila Black and Michael Northen, Beauty is a Verb: The New Poetry of Disability. In December 2014, she co-edited, with Professor George Hart, a collection of the poet Larry Eigner’s letters and participated in a “roundtable” on disability and poetics for Poetry Magazine. Bartlett has received fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, Fund for Poetry, and the Dodd Research Center at the University of Connecticut. She is currently writing a full-length biography on Eigner, and recently had a residency at the Gloucester Writer’s Center. Bartlett has taught poetry and disability awareness at Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls, United Cerebral Palsy, the MS Society, and New York Public Schools. Bartlett has had mild cerebral palsy since birth.

* * * 
If you have difficulty reading this poem, please visit the poem at our site.
Please feel free to share Split This Rock Poem of the Week widely. We just ask you to include all of the information in this post, including this request. Thanks!  To read more poems of provocation and witness, please visit The Quarry: A Social Justice Poetry Database at SplitThisRock.org.
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Nov 1st. Deadline. Poetry Contest.

SplitThisRock.Submittable.com

Prizes: $500 & Registration for the 2016 festival; $250, and $100. Entry fee of $20 raises funds used to bring on the 4 day social justice and poetry festival, in DC April 14-17.

Judge: The inimitatible Rigoberto González.

Split Rock Park, Lake Harmony, PA. Photo by MF Simone Roberts.

Split Rock Park, Lake Harmony, PA. Photo by MF Simone Roberts.

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

Visit Split This Rock’s website [www.splitthisrock.org] to read past winning poems for examples of themes.

Rigoberto González is author of four books of poetry, most recently Unpeopled Eden, which won the Lambda Literary Award and the Lenore Marshall Prize from the Academy of American Poets. His ten books of prose include bilingual children’s books, young adult novels, and Butterfly Boy: Memories of a Chicano Mariposa, which received the American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation. He edited Camino del Sol: Fifteen Years of Latina and Latino Writing and Alurista’s new Xicano Duende: A Select Anthology. The recipient of Guggenheim and NEA fellowships, the Shelley Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America, and many other accolades, he is professor of English at Rutgers-Newark, the State University of New Jersey. In 2015, he received The Bill Whitehead Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Publishing Triangle.

FOR QUESTIONS OR MORE INFO: info@splitthisrock.org | splitthisrock.submittable.com/submit

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One Contest, One Festival — Two Ways to Build the Beloved Community

Venus Thrash performs “Uncivil” at the Split This Rock Poetry Festival: Poems of Provocation & Witness 2012.

Annual Poetry Contest

THEMES: 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, economics, government, war, leadership; issues of identity (gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, disability, body image, immigration, heritage, etc.); community, civic engagement, education, activism; and poems about history, Americana, cultural icons. Visit the Past Poetry Contests page to read past winning poems if you are still unclear regarding themes.

Split This Rock subscribes to the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses Contest Code of Ethics. Read it online at our website.

ACCESSIBILITY: If Submittable is not accessible to you, please contact us at info@splitthisrock.org or (202) 787-5210 for instructions on how to email your submission to us. It is important that we know about your situation before receiving your mailed or emailed entry. Please allow sufficient time for your submission to be received.

Submission Guidelines:
Submissions need to be received by 11:59pm on November 1, 2015, Eastern Standard Time.

Submit up to 3 unpublished poems, no more than 6 pages total, no more than 1 poem per page, in any style, in the spirit of Split This Rock (see above). Visit Split This Rock’s Submittable page for instructions.

What we mean by “unpublished”: We accept only poems that have not yet been included in a publication with an ISBN number or online via a juried journal or website. If your poem is selected and it is posted on social media, we ask that you take it down prior to our publishing contest results.

More information and to submit is waiting for you at Submittable.

Festival

Split This Rock Poetry Festival: Poems of Provocation & Witness 2016 invites poets, activists, poetry lovers, and dreamers to Washington, DC, April 14-17, 2016 for four days of readings, workshops, panel discussions, youth programming, activism—opportunities to speak out for justice, build connection and community, and celebrate the many ways poetry can act as an agent for social change. Split This Rock Poetry Festival is DC’s premiere poetry event and the only festival of its kind in the country, highlighting poets working at the intersection of the imagination and social change.

The poets to be featured are among the most significant and artistically vibrant writing and performing today: Jennifer Bartlett, Jan Beatty, Reginald Dwayne Betts, Regie Cabico, Dominique Christina, Nikky Finney, Ross Gay, Aracelis Girmay, Rigoberto González, Linda Hogan, Craig Santos Perez, and Ocean Vuong. Juan Felipe Herrera, newly appointed Poet Laureate of the United States, will kick off the festival with a special event at the Library of Congress on April 13, and will be part of this gathering of socially engaged poets from his new position as a national spokesperson for poetry. Registration will open in November. Group rates and scholarships will be available. Readings by featured poets will be free and open to the public. More information at: http://www.splitthisrock.org/programs/festival/2016-poetry-festival/.