The organizers of Split This Rock believe that as citizens and artists, our obligation has never been greater. We call on poets of conscience to move to the center of public life as we forge a visionary new arts movement for peace and justice.

Poets have long played a central role in movements for social change. Today, at a critical juncture in our country’s history, poetry that gives voice to the voiceless, names the unnameable, and speaks directly from the individual and collective conscience is more important than ever.

Split This Rock explores and celebrates the many ways that poetry can act as an agent for change: reaching across differences, considering personal and social responsibility, asserting the centrality of the right to free speech, bearing witness to the diversity and complexity of human experience through language, imagining a better world.

Our four festivals in Washington, DC have featured readings by some of the most beloved poets of our time, workshops, panel discussions on poetry and social change, youth programming, films, parties, walking tours, and activism—unique opportunities to hone our activist skills while we assess and debate the public role of the poet and the poem.

Judged by representatives of the Abortion Care Network and Split This Rock, and this year's special guest judge Jan Beatty!

Sponsored by the Abortion Care Network and Split This Rock

Deadline: Midnight (EST), February 28, 2017

The Abortion Care Network (ACN), a national organization of independent abortion providers and prochoice supporters, and Split This Rock, a national organization that celebrates poetry that provokes social change, announce our Sixth Annual Abortion Rights Poetry Contest. This year's contest is judged by Jan Beatty, author of The Switching/Yard, Red Sugar, and Mad River.

The experience of people who seek abortion and other reproductive services is as varied as the individuals involved. For some, there is safety, relief, and good medical care. For others, there is doubt, harassment, and stigma. For all, health care takes place in a politicized context in which even the most basic choices about our bodies, sexuality, and childbearing can be scrutinized. Reproductive rights are also linked to a whole host of other social issues, such as economic status and the accessibility of safe, affordable health care.

ACN and Split This Rock welcome the submission of poems on these themes. We will award the following prizes: First ($100), Second ($75) and Third Place ($50), and Honorable Mention.

The prize-winning poems will be transformed into handcrafted artistic booklets distributed to all 2018 ACN meeting attendees and will be published in the ACN quarterly newsletter.  Poems will also be placed onto The Quarry, Split This Rock's online social justice poetry database.   

Read the winning poems from previous years in The Quarry.

Submission Guidelines:

  • All styles and approaches accepted.
  • Submit up to 3 poems (6 pages maximum) as one document by midnight (EST), February 28, 2016 via Submittable. If Submittable is not accessible to you, please contact us at and we'll send instructions on how to submit your poems.
  • One entry per poet, please.
  • We read blind. Please do not put your name or contact information on the document you upload to Submittable or within its title or your poems will be in jeopardy of being disqualified.
  • Previously published in print is acceptable, but, please, not on the web.
  • Simultaneous submissions accepted. Please inform us immediately through Submittable if the poem has been accepted for publication elsewhere. If Submittable is not accessible, let us know by emailing us at
  • Close friends, relatives, students, and former students of the judge are excluded from the contest. Likewise, the current Board of Directors, staff, teaching artists, and DC Slam Team of Split This Rock are excluded, as are members of their immediate families. (For more detail: visit the code of ethics on Split This Rock's website.)
  • Except for special circumstances we are aware of in advance, we do not accept mailed or emailed submissions.

We encourage you to submit before the February 28 deadline so that if you encounter problems we can assist you.

Late entries will not be accepted.

Once decisions have been made, you will receive an email notifying you of the status of your submission. We do not send hard copy notifications or accept self addressed stamped envelopes.

Please monitor Split This Rock’s website and Facebook page for updates on the contest if for some reason you have trouble receiving emails.

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 for alternate methods of submitting to the contest.

Questions? Contact us at