Split This Rock cultivates, teaches, and celebrates poetry that bears witness to injustice and provokes social change. By building the audience for poetry of provocation and witness from our home in the nation's capital, we call poets to a greater role in public life, foster a national network of socially engaged poets, and celebrate poetic diversity and the transformative power of the imagination.

Split This Rock Poetry Festival 2020: Poems of Provocation & Witness will be held March 26-28 2020! We invite poets, writers, and activists to Washington, DC for three days of featured readings, workshops, panel discussions, youth programming, activism, a social change book fair. Together we will build community, hone our skills, imagine ways forward, and explore poetry as a practice for social change. Learn more about Split This Rock and the Festival at the website.

Split This Rock Poetry Festival: Poems of Provocation & Witness

March 26-28, 2020, Washington, DC 

Call for Proposals: Workshops, Readings, and Panel Discussions
Submissions Due - EXTENDED: Monday, July 31, 2019, 11:59 pm PDT

For Accessible Submission Guidelines, visit Split This Rock's website for an accessible version of submission instructions. For other questions or requests related to accessibility, please contact us at access@splitthisrock.org or 202-787-5210.  

Split This Rock is now accepting session proposals for the seventh biennial Split This Rock Poetry Festival on March 26-28, 2020 in Washington, DC!

Send your bold and tender ideas for workshops, themed group readings, panel discussions, or hybrid session formats. Do you have a successful session you've shared in another community or something that's never been accepted at a conference before? Send both of those proposals our way! 

For examples of how to craft session proposals, refer to the lists of accepted sessions from previous festivals on the Split This Rock website.


Given that 2020 is an election year, the Festival curation team welcomes proposals that combat despair or take action in the midst of it, encourage learning across generations, celebrate communities targeted by violence, imagine what it means to thrive in the midst of struggle, and equip us as artists to live at the center of public life and social change. We want to learn how you've invoked poetry to work against repressive regimes and for liberation.

Split This Rock values diversity in methods and content, including creative ways of learning together and ideas that challenge the status quo. The Festival curation team welcomes proposals on topics and from presenters whose work is historically underrepresented in literary spaces, including but not limited to sessions focused on Indigenous and Native lives, disability justice, trans liberation, reproductive rights, immigration justice, health care access, dismantling white supremacy, poverty and economic inequality, and environmental justice. 


In your proposal, please describe how your session is timely and aligns with Split This Rock's mission, the ways in which the session will provide participants with new knowledge or resources, how the presenter(s) are uniquely qualified to lead the session, and how you will ensure that the session is interactive. 

We are accepting proposals in three categories:

Workshops – Workshops might offer writing prompts, revision or craft exercises, practical techniques for professional writing practice or balancing self-care with work, or other activities that connect contemporary issues and the writing life. Please describe the specific activities you will offer. A workshop may be led by one person or a team. Every year, attendees ask for more workshop sessions--if you can turn your session idea into an interactive workshop, we heartily encourage you to do it.

Themed Group Readings - Readings might showcase voices, perspectives, or topics that could otherwise be missing from the festival program or literary landscape. Please describe the central theme or connecting thread for your reading. All proposals for Readings must identify how much time will be set aside for participants to dialogue with readers. All readings must include at least two people.

Panels Discussions - A panel discussion may consist of 3-5 persons total, with one person designated as facilitator. Please describe what questions you plan to explore. All panels must include an interactive component; please describe how you will involve participants in the discussion and how much time will be set aside for participants to dialogue with one another and/or session leaders.

SESSION LENGTH: Sessions are typically an hour and a half long. We will confirm how much time each session will have once sessions are accepted.

PRESENTERS: Proposals for Readings and Panels must include at least two (2) presenters. This form will not allow you to submit a Reading or Panel proposal with only one presenter. Proposals may include up to five (5) presenters. There is no limit to the number of proposals you may send, but be sure all proposed presenters have agreed to be part of your session before you send it to us. Presenters may be part of no more than two accepted sessions. Once sessions have been selected, we will ask any presenters who are part of more than two accepted sessions to make choices. Presenters are not compensated, but registration scholarships are available.

COMMUNITY BUILDING: The Festival prides itself on being a place for community building. Plan for your session to be interactive. When proposing panel discussions and readings, please set aside time for dialogue or a period of questions and answers.

NO ACADEMIC PAPERS: Split This Rock treasures scholarly interventions, but the Poetry Festival is not an academic conference. While your work may draw on scholarly lineages, please propose sessions for a general audience from a range of backgrounds. Proposals focused primarily on the presentation of academic papers will not be considered. 

All presenters with accepted proposals must register individually for Split This Rock Poetry Festival. Last year, early bird festival registration for presenters was $100, with a student rate of $50. While these rates may change, we are committed to keeping festival prices reasonable. Scholarships are available.


A loving reminder: Split This Rock Poetry Festival is a national gathering managed by a very small staff. Please follow these instructions carefully so the curation team can give your proposal the best possible consideration. Please take time to develop your proposal and bear in mind that session selection is a very competitive process. 

Pro tips:

  • Give your session an enticing, meaningful title of 10 words or less (no more than 40 characters).
  • Provide FULL contact information for all your session presenters. 
  • Read session descriptions from previous Festivals to guide your proposal writing.
  • Remind all session leaders that they will have to register and pay for their own travel and lodging if the session is accepted. Generous scholarship funds to cover registration fees will be available; we will post a short scholarship application when festival registration opens. 
  • No formal presentations of academic papers will be considered.
  • Send your daring, bold, heartful ideas and help us create the shared spaces we are all longing for.

Questions? Email us at poetryfest@splitthisrock.org. 

This Festival is made by what we can imagine together. We look forward to reading your proposal! 

Split This Rock