With Split This Rock Poetry Festival 2016 complete I find myself simultaneously elated and exhausted. It was three full days of poetry goodness – panels and workshops and writing and reading and talking and bonding and magic. Day one was great and it just kept getting better.
Friday, day two, started with a panel titled Physical Bodies and Poetic Bones. From there I went to a panel about Madwomen in the Attic, an amazing women’s poetry group in Pittsburgh – I asked that they expand their offerings to include a 2 or 3-day workshop so I can be a part of this wonderful group. The talented Jan Beatty runs the group and I would be honored to learn from her. That afternoon I attended a slightly lackluster panel about Social Justice Poetry Projects.
That night was another reading featuring Jennifer Bartlett, Jan Beatty, and Regie Cabico. Jan read one of my favorite poems, Shooter. If you haven’t read this poem you need to. Of course I then had to buy her new book and have her sign it for me.
Jan Beatty and I
Advice from Jan Beatty: Write what terrifies you!
Saturday, day three started with a panel titled Raising Lilly Ledbetter: Women Poets Occupy the Workspace. Following that was a workshop lead by two poets I admire: Franny Choi and Sarah Kay.
Franny Choi and I
Sarah Kay and I
Finally, the workshop I’d been looking forward to the most: The Golden Shovel. The Golden Shovel is a poetic form created by Terrance Hayes. And while the form is interesting and I am definitely going to give it a try, my main reason for being so excited about this workshop was Jeanann Verlee was one of the panelists. Jeanann Verlee is one of my favorite poets.
After the workshop I chatted with Jeanann, telling her how much I loved her work and how inspiring I found her. I may have gushed a little (read: a lot) but she was sweet and humble and so very kind and I think I’ve convinced her to be my new best friend. She obliged me with a picture and signed my book for me.
Jeanann Verlee and I
There were two readings that night, featuring six different amazing poets: Dominique Christina, Martha Collins, Dawn Lundy Martin, Reginald Dwayne Betts, Nikky Finney, and Ocean Vuong.
By the end of Saturday night I was exhausted and yet humming with excitement. The festival prompted many poems and I’m so happy I attended. My goal for the next Split This Rock Poetry Festival, which will be in 2018, is to be one of the panelists. Time to get writing!