Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Give the Gift of Poetry!

November 2016

Dear Splitistas,

We are writing to you toward the end of this truly wrenching and difficult year, still unfolding. We struggle even to write this letter. How to innumerate the injustices and violences of 2016? How indeed to speak of money in the face of shared terror of the future?

The only way is to say it plain: If, in the grip of anxiety and despair, you have turned to poems published by Split This Rock; if you have been moved to action by conversations you had at the festival; if you had your hope in the future restored at a youth slam; if you have felt emboldened in your own writing or activism, we ask that you make a donation to Split This Rock.

Statistics and lectures are necessary to educate us but they rarely reach us in our most elemental places, where we hold fear, grief, hope. That’s poetry’s role – to split us open, to help us imagine the unimaginable, to return us to our core humanity, to give us the gift of love. You can give that gift with a donation to Split This Rock.

Over and over we ourselves turned to poetry this year, as we sought understanding and a way forward. Here are some of the ways Split This Rock brought poetry into public life:
  • Poetry as Action: After the Pulse shooting, we invited poets to send us poems in solidarity with marginalized communities targeted by gun violence. We published the outpouring on Split This Rock’s blog and sent the poems, accompanied by demands for gun control, to the leadership of the NRA and to members of Congress.
  • Poetry as Embrace: To counter the increasingly nasty xenophobia, misogyny, and racism in our public life, poets at Split This Rock Poetry Festival fanned out across downtown DC and read poems of love and welcome – to passersby and to one another, building Dr. King’s Beloved Community street corner by street corner.
  • Poetry as Power: Through Split This Rock’s youth programs, young poets learned the social and political contexts of their lives, spoke power in their poems, and spoke truth to power countless times throughout the year. They were fierce voices for fundamental change at gatherings of philanthropists, policy makers, and other young activists and dreamers. 
  • Poetry as Witness & Memory: At the 9th anniversary of the bombing of Iraq’s historic bookselling street, Split This Rock played a lead role in Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here DC 2016. We brought 10 poets and translators to DC for readings, workshops, and dialogue that dispelled stereotypes, celebrated the rich cultures of the Arab and Muslim worlds, and stood in solidarity with the people of Iraq.
  • Poetry as Love Made Manifest: Poetry reminds us that we are all one and one with the earth. The poems gathered in the anthology Ghost Fishing, forthcoming from the University of Georgia Press as part of Split This Rock’s Eco-Justice Poetry Project, show that earth justice is not possible without racial justice, without economic and gender justice. 
  • Poetry as Truth-Telling: At the first anniversary of The Quarry: A Social Justice Poetry Database, we looked up the top 20 most-viewed poems and offered them again as inspiration and fire in efforts building a better world. Those 20 poems are exemplary of all the poems we’ve published and presented throughout the years; they are cries of mourning and pleas for peace and reconciliation; they speak to our history of brokenness, our spirit of resistance.
And there’s been so much more: readings, performances, workshops, open mics, contests, awards, after-school poetry clubs, world-changing festivals – all engaging poetry’s unique ability to provoke change. All year round Split This Rock’s staff and board work tirelessly to raise funds so that poetry can do this essential work in the world.

But we can’t do it alone. We need you, the Split This Rock community. In 2017, we’ll be marking nine years of building this home for poets and poetry of conscience. The year ahead will be challenging. We’ll need poetry of provocation and witness more than ever: to answer hate, to take advantage of the many opportunities to engage poetry with movements for social change, to build the world we want to see.

The Morris & Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation has given Split This Rock a tremendous vote of confidence: They will match every donation from a new supporter or increased gift from an existing donor, up to $5,000. Double your donation!

We began this letter expressing dismay at speaking of money at a time such as this. And it’s true, it’s hard to talk about money. But in our society, money is power. And we’ve seen the super-wealthy wield it to distort our democracy and embolden the most hate-filled and violent among us. Help Split This Rock wield it to bring poetry and its challenge and comfort to all who crave its defiant, necessary beauty. Please give generously today.

Donate online at Split This Rock's website or send a check 
for any amount made out to “Split This Rock” to: Split This Rock, 1301 Connecticut Ave. N.W., Suite 600, Washington, DC 20171. Thank you.

With poetry on our lips and our fists in the air,

Sarah Browning          Camisha L. Jones          Dan Vera
Executive Director       Managing Director        Board Chair

PS – Don’t forget! Increase your gift and Split This Rock receives double the new amount!

PSS – All donations are fully tax-deductible.