Sunday, September 14, 2014


Part of the annual WalkingTown DC festivities, “DC By the Book: Books of the Harlem Renaissance,” a walking tour led by Kim Roberts, will explore DC through fiction brought to life, highlighting the U Street Neighborhood. DC By The Book is a collaboration between DC Public Library, local partners, and the public to crowd-source passages from fiction set in D.C and place them on a custom map of the city. Saturday Sept. 20 from 10:00 am to Noon.  Free admission; advance registration required.

“Reading Sonnets,” a literature class led by Kim Roberts, will use a range of modern and contemporary sonnets written by authors from the DC region as a text.  We will examine the traditions of the form: rhyme, meter, subject matter, and discuss how contemporary poets have both honored and subverted those traditional expectations.  Participants will be asked to  read assigned poems in advance of each of 3 class meetings and be reading to join in a lively discussion of the amazing longevity and flexibility of the sonnet.  Three consecutive Thursday evenings, Oct. 30, Nov. 6 and Nov. 13, from 7:30 to 9:00 pm.  $35 fee; advance registration required.



Anne Becker photo by Ethelbert

This weekend I spent time with poet Anne Becker. She has a nice small studio at the Pyramid Atlantic located on Georgia Avenue, near Silver Spring. It was raining so we didn't go for a walk. Anne is one person who has a good knowledge of the history of my neighborhood. Her father once worked at Walter Reed Hospital which is located just a few blocks from where I live. I like how Anne can name the plants and trees when she passes them. I remember when she was writing her poems about Darwin. Anne has served as poet laureate of Takoma Park, Maryland. We've been friends since the 1970s.

Photo by Ethelbert

5x5 Project

I went out to SE Washington where my poem is on display. It's around the corner from where my daughter Jasmine-Simone lives.

Saturday, September 13, 2014


Time for a Race Workshop?  Here is the comment made about basketball player Luol Deng by Danny Ferry the GM of the Atlanta Hawks.

[Deng is] a good guy overall but he's not perfect. He's got some African in him. And I don't say that in a bad way. 

Notice how Ferry first acknowledges that Deng is a good guy but not perfect. What does this mean?
Do you know anyone who is perfect?  This is a comment about Deng's behavior. It's best that he be a black person that has a smile on his face even while pissing. The"good guy "was often the role Poitier or Cosby was forced to play on a screen. It permits white people to sleep at night. Nothing wrong with this. Nat Turner only became upset because people snored - his actions had nothing to do with slavery and oppression - right?

Now the Ferry statement about Deng having some African in him is almost hilarious. We should hope Deng has some African in him since the brother is African. Oh, and here is where Ferry crosses the water into racism. He believes his comments should not be interpreted as being negative. It's obvious he just doesn't get it.  Where is this Ferry going?  America?


The Adrian Peterson child abuse case sounds like something that would place all our grandparents behind bars. Peterson was using an old tree branch to discipline his four year old son. Remember those stories of a young child being sent out into the yard to come back with the branch? Maybe this is where the expression "pick your poison" could be used. The era of privacy is over. Who is such a saint that they can cast the first stone? Show me a narrative that does not contain comedy and tragedy.We enjoy hearing about the problems of the couple next door. Are these problems our own? If we witness something must we always give testimony?  Is the eye always honest?  Can it be trusted?  Does every photograph or video tell the truth?  How do we live without taking risks?

How do we live and grow old without making mistakes?  What is the crime and who is the judge?
And what about the suffering in our world that comes from daily abuse. How many of us abuse our children with language? How do we measure the scars of  our words and the evidence unseen? Should we blame the tree for growing branches?

Friday, September 12, 2014

September 12, 2014
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This week we offer Juan Carlos Galeano's poem, "History."

During the month of September, to coincide with the People's Climate March in NYC on September 21, Split This Rock Poem of the Week is featuring eco-justice poetry. 

The poems are an early peek at a book of poems being edited by Melissa Tuckey in collaboration with Split This Rock: Ghost Fishing: an Eco-Justice Poetry Anthology, to be published by the University of Georgia Press in 2016. The anthology will examine the many ways that social justice issues intersect with the environment. We hope you'll be moved and moved to action. 

In earth justice and poetry,
Split This Rock
Poem of the Week: 
Juan Carlos Galeano

In the north we hunted many buffalo
whose lard warmed us all winter.

But in the jungle they told us that to bring more light
we should throw more trees into the sun's furnace.

One day our hand slipped and tossed in the entire jungle
with its birds, fish, and rivers.

Now we spend a lot of time gazing at the stars
and our daily menu almost never changes.

Today we hunted down a cloud
that was going to become winter in New York City


From The Ecopoetry Anthology, edited by Ann Fisher-Wirth and Laura Gray Street. (Trinity University Press, San Antonio, Texas.) Used by permission.

JUAN CARLOS GALEANO was born in the Colombian Amazon. He is the author of several books of poetry and translations of American poetry. His work inspired by Amazonian cosmologies has been published and anthologized internationally and widely translated. Magazines and journals such as The Atlantic Monthly, Field, PloughsharesTriQuarterly,and Antioch Review have published his poems. Other works include a collection of folktales Cuentos amazónicos (2014), Folktales of the Amazon (2009), as well as a film he co-directed and co-produced, The Trees Have a Mother (2008). He teaches Latin American poetry and cultures of the Amazon at Florida State University.

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View the poem on our site.

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Split This Rock

This Week: BOMB's Oral History Project with Jeanne Moutoussamy-AsheEleanor AntinJill Schoolman of Archipelago Books, and Emmalea Russo

Oral History Project

Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe
by Kalia Brooks

Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe
BOMB's Oral History Project documents the life stories of New York City’s African American artists.
"Roy DeCarava once said to me, when I said something to him about my work being very personal, "Good! Because these people who think of their work as being formal aren't really feeling the work." I never studied with Roy DeCarava, I studied with Garry Winogrand at the Art Institute of Chicago and at Cooper Union. To [Garry], the image was witty. He was wit's end. He was like an Elliott Erwitt, always having some comical side to the image. For Roy, it was important that he showed his community the way he saw it, and the beauty that he saw in his community. But Garry Winogrand saw that as Roy having a lot of headaches. So image is important as a teaching tool—as a way of creating judgment, creating peace, or educating people—for good or bad. We live in an exceptionally camera-centric society now. You can't buy a phone without a camera on it. Everybody has a camera."
Read More ]

September 9, 2014

Back to School

September brings with it the start of another school year. To mark the occasion, we’ve gathered a selection of poems about knowledge and the pleasure of learning.

“We Real Cool” by Gwendolyn Brooks
“Theme for English B” by Langston Hughes
“The Testing-Tree” by Stanley Kunitz
“The Hand” by Mary Ruefle

From A Poet’s Glossary by Academy Chancellor Edward Hirsch

What is a terse didactic statement embodying a general truth, akin to the aphorism and the maxim, that draws attention to itself as a formal artistic entity? Find out.

New Materials for Teachers

We’ve revamped our resources for teachers on, including the addition of new lesson plans from 826 National, the network of nonprofit organizations dedicated to helping students with their literacy and writing skills. And later this month, we’ll be launching the Academy of American Poets Educator Newsletter.Sign up now to receive it.

Other Terms From A Poet's Glossary


Poetic Schools & Movements


Lesson Plans for Teachers


The Value of Poetic Lineage

In school we learn about the poets who have laid the groundwork for contemporary poetry. Join us at this year’s Poets Forum to hear poetsTimothy LiuJoseph Fasano, andRachel Zucker discuss the poets who have inspired them and why, with close readings of their favorite poems at the panel “Poetic Lineage.”
Naomi Shihab Nye

On Teaching Poetry

"Find places of real love within yourself... that will help you create a mood and atmosphere where poetry becomes contagious," advises Academy ChancellorNaomi Shihab Nye during the panel "The Art of Teaching" at last year's Poets Forum. Watch the video for a preview of what you might find at this year's Poets Forum.


Poetry FoundationNewsletter

September 12, 2014

Louise Gluck


Louise Glück on the writing process, her 13th book of poems, and why she experiences a ‘kind of grief’ upon publication.
Brick wall

Learning the Poetic Line

How line breaks shape meaning
Autumn Star Flower

Fall Poems

Poems to read as the leaves change and the weather gets colder.

13 Years: Listening and Witnessing