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 biennial 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.

Split This Rock Poetry Festival: Poems of Provocation & Witness
April 19-21, 2018, Washington, DC  

Workshops, Themed Readings, and Panel or Roundtable Discussions


FOR ACCESSIBLE SUBMISSION GUIDELINES: Visit Split This Rock's website for an accessible Word version of submission instructions or contact us at

Split This Rock invites proposals for workshops, panel and roundtable discussions, and themed group readings for the Sixth Biennial Split This Rock Poetry Festival, celebrating Split This Rock's 10th anniversary, scheduled for April 19-21, 2018, in Washington, DC.

Not only does poetry equip us to speak out against oppression but it helps to sustain us in these extremely perilous times. It reminds us of what it means to be fully human, holds the vision of what is possible, creates community, keeps alive what we value: compassion, justice, love. Poetry helps us find our voice when we feel powerless. It helps us be our best selves, so we can continue the long-term activism our current climate demands.

We're particularly interested this year in seeing proposals that help us combat despair (or ride through it), learn from one another across generations, celebrate cultures targeted by hate, figure out what it means to live in this time, and equip us all as creative and effective citizens and activists.

We value diversity within the sessions, creative ways of interacting, ideas that are new to us. Special areas of interest this year are sessions focused on disability, transgender issues, reproductive rights, xenophobia/immigration, health care issues, confronting white supremacy, poverty and economic inequality, and eco-justice. We're eager to learn about ways that you've engaged poetry in working against the current repressive regime and we welcome intergenerational conversations.

The festival prides itself on being a place for community building. Interactive proposals that open unique opportunities for participants to connect with one another are of particular interest. When proposing panel discussions and readings, we request that time be set aside in your session for dialogue or a period of questions and answers.

Split This Rock is not an academic conference, but a gathering of individuals from many backgrounds. Please, no academic papers and avoid jargon of all kinds. Thank you!

We invite you to visit the Split This Rock website and review the schedules of the first five festivals to get a sense of the broad range of topics and approaches that appeal to organizers.


Split This Rock
 cultivates, teaches, and celebrates poetry that bears witness to injustice and provokes social change. 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
 invites poets, writers, and activists to Washington, DC, for three days of poetry, community building, and creative transformation. The festival will feature readings, workshops, panel discussions, youth programming, activism, a bookfair, a party - opportunities to imagine a way forward, hone our activist skills, and explore the many ways that poetry can act as an agent for social change. Learn more about Split This Rock and the festival at the website.

When submitting a proposal, you'll be asked for a description of 200 words or fewer, including information about format, themes, activities (if applicable), and topics or questions to be explored. We also want to know what makes the session timely and necessary and how participants will benefit both at the festival and afterwards.

Tell us how your session aligns with Split This Rock's work, how the presenter(s) are uniquely qualified to lead the session, and how you will ensure that the session is interactive. There are 3 types of sessions you can propose:

Workshops –
 We have a strong interest in workshops that are interactive. Workshops could offer opportunities for writing, themed activities that open discussion on writing or writers, space to explore ways to maintain personal balance, or any number of exercises to guide participants in thinking about the connections between contemporary issues and their writing life. Please tell us exactly what you have in mind for activities. A workshop may be led by one person or collaboratively. 

Themed Group
 Readings - Readings might showcase voices or perspectives that could otherwise be missing from the festival program. Please tell us if there is a coherent theme or organizing principle for your reading that makes it a natural fit for Split This Rock. Also, note how much time will be set aside for participants to dialogue with readers. ALL readings should include MORE THAN ONE PERSON.

Panels/Roundtables -
 A panel or discussion may consist of 3-4 persons, with one person designated as facilitator. Please tell us what questions you wish to explore. We have a strong interest in interactive conversation and community building, so please be sure to 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. 

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


Please title your proposed session. Titles should be 10 words or fewer (no more than 40 characters in length, including spaces). Include brief biographical information and full contact information for each participant. Provide a description of your session, using the online form.

: All selected presenters must register for Split This Rock Poetry Festival. Last year, festival registration for presenters was $100, with a student rate of $50. While the rates may change, we are committed to keeping festival prices reasonable. Scholarships will be available so that all may participate.

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. Take time to develop your proposal and bear in mind that this is a very competitive process. (In the past we've had to turn away many strong proposals.)

Please note that we prefer that presenters 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 to narrow their participation.

One final note: Split This Rock has a small staff without a lot of time for double-checking information. Please follow these instructions carefully. Remember:
  • Give your proposed session a meaningful name of 10 words or less (no more than 40 characters).
  • Provide FULL contact information for all your session leaders.
  • Remind all session leaders that they will have to register. Generous scholarship funds will be available; we will post a simple scholarship application when festival registration opens.
  • Please note we are not interested in readings of academic papers. 
  • Regretfully, we have no funds to compensate session leaders.

Questions? Email us at We look forward to reading your proposal!