Saturday, March 13, 2010

Split this Rock, the Affrilachian panels

First, let me get this out of the way. So many things went wrong today that I sorta wished more than a few times that I could just throw in the towel. I'm gonna quickly list them:

1. Woke up late due to tiredness, and therefore missed the early panels I wanted to attend.
2. Thought I could just catch the first Affrilachian panel (which I wasn't formally a part of) by driving into Washington. Long story short. Nope.
3. Driving to Washington in the early morning was horrific. And later, driving back was just as bad.
4. I forgot some not quite necessary random items back at the hotel, which nevertheless sorta threw me off my game.
5. All in all, tons of schedule conflicts, and me carrying a big stack of chapbooks etc because I don't have anything to carry them in.

But the reading itself went pretty well. It was in the Thurgood Marshall Center (which houses the former brief living quarters of Langston Hughes, which I took photos of). It was a cozy, living room style room that was filled to capacity by the end of our set. It was Ellen Hagan, Frank X. Walker, Mitch Douglas, and me performing, and I think that after all was said and done, and we had answered everyone's questions, we actually went a little over our time. I read a lot of my more overtly political stuff, which I haven't done in quite some time. Plus, I got Ellen's new book.

Oh, and I got to participate in Ellen's workshop Poetic Exploration, which was about crossing the boundaries of art. There were three groups which connected themselves to poetry; dance, theatre, and visual mediums, and I ended up in the theatre group. It was pretty awesome, actually, we each wrote some free writing from a quote or picture, then chose from that writing one or two lines. We then decided, by switching around in line, which lines would create a good poem, then created a performance based on that, using a blanket which could represent any one thing. I've never really been into the acting part of theatre, so it was a drastically new experience for me.

Oh, and I got to eat Ethiopian food for the first time. Lamb Wot. It was fantastic.

Finally, at the end of the night, I got a book signed by Patricia Smith, who I caught as she was walking out of the building where a poetry reading done by Jeffrey McDaniel, Natalie E. Illu, Jan Beatty, and Quincy Troupe was happening. I especially loved Jeffrey McDaniel's poems, and Jan Beatty.

My favorite thing about this all, besides my rapidly expanding collection of signed books, is the sheer number of performances I get to see. It's introducing me to whole new worlds of poetry and expression. Well worth the entry price.


  1. Wow! Split this Rock sounds like it was a great experience. I saw pics of some of my favorite poets there! UGH! Maybe next year...

  2. Where did you see the photos? I'm not connected with anyone from the event who has posted anything; I'd like to see what's out there.

  3. I'm jealous! again! Thanks for the synopsis. It's like being there. I didn't know about this event until you posted on your page. Thing is, if it's in DC, that means Evelyn was somewhere near. Too bad you two didn't meet up!

  4. Yes, I was near, but didn't know anything about the event until it was too late. Dang!

    Maybe you could me remind me next year if you go again.

  5. Yeah, it's too bad you didn't know about it! In your defense, I did a very poor job of letting anyone who didn't already know about it know. I forget, sometimes, that the internet is filled with people who don't live directly around me, and therefore, might benefit from 'out of state' opportunities.

    There's next time, though; this is supposed to be an annual or semi-annual event.

  6. Hi Keith,

    Thanks for these great write-ups! It was terrific to have you here; I really enjoyed your reading.

    You can see some photos on Split This Rock's Facebook page here:

    And for folks who didn't know about it, so sorry! Please join the list serv at to get notices of the next festival in 2012 and all Split This Rock programs.

    Best wishes,
    Sarah Browning