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Split This Rock cultivates, teaches, and celebrates poetry that bears witness to injustice and provokes social change.
Poem of the Week
Hari Alluri
Black and white image of Hari Alluri in front of a blurred apartment building. Hari is bearded and smiling while facing the right of camera. Hari has black hair tufting out the front and wears a winter jacket with a black ribbed toque.
Content Notice: grief, substance dependency, war reference
Clarification Card: The Spiral
(“The cigarette is pretext: smoke rises from within”)

After Marcella Kroll / After Claudia Rankine / After Yannis Ritsos
Unless you’re practiced as a lola’s wrinkles,
do not flip the lit side of the yosi in your mouth.
They developed this skill in war and carried it
into supervised work with no breaks to speak of.
My smoking is less like revolution, but it helps on the job:
there’s an extra few minutes of break-time for you
depending how slammed your co-workers are. Be generous,
ash trays and pavements don’t give quite back
nice as they took. The kisses taste
exquisite as ash. Nods in the rain, friendships
you find and forget. The trick to becoming
a proper smoker is some small grief
there is no relief from and you know it,
so you might as well light something on fire
on a regular basis, take it in and breathe it out
like it’s part of your everyday being. It’s okay
if the grief is large. It’s more important to find less
violent ways of spitting. The worst way is like a man
who has sized up another human being and is claiming to measure
their worth when he’s really measuring his own
disdain for himself. The worst way to smoke
is like you don’t want to. I’ve felt it so many times
from people like me: we ask for a yosi, claiming
we’ve quit, or—more honest but not less painful—
lamenting we can’t. Don’t get me wrong,
pulling singles when you’ve stopped managing
the pack is fully acceptable, I’m only warning
against wistfulness. The smoke knows,
holds on for fear of being abandoned tight
as you wish you were free. I would say I’m sorry
but I already told you smoke works like grief.
Don’t need yellow-stained fingers to know this,
you could just burn the oil in the soup pot
by walking away while heating it on maximum
and have to run it outside. Fingers scalding as you inhale
what’s promised. You could just be sad
without the smoke for company. You could
call your lola’s smoke voice the island
you’re from. Keep the light, I have another right here.
About The Poet
Hari Alluri (he/him/siya) is the author of The Flayed City (Kaya). A winner of the 2020 Leonard A. Slade, Jr. Poetry Fellowship for Poets of Color and an editor at Locked Horn Press, he has received grants from the Canada Council for the Arts and National Film Board of Canada and fellowships from Las Dos Brujas, Port Townsend, and VONA/Voices writers workshops. His work appears in the anthologies Pandemic Solidarity (Pluto) and Watch Your Head: Writers & Artists Respond to the Climate Crisis (Coach House), as well as in Apogee, Poemeleon, Poetry, Prism International, Tinderbox, The Volta, and elsewhere. Shout-outs to BIPOC Writing Community, Community Building Art Works, The Cultch & Soft Cedar, The Digital Sala, and Massy Books. Keep up with Hari at Hari's Linktree.
Poet's Call to Action
Hari Alluri invites people to support and amplify Red Canary Song.
A grassroots collective of Asian & migrant sex workers, organizing transnationally, Red Canary Song centers base building with migrant workers through a labor rights framework and mutual aid. Learn more at the organization's website. Hari also suggests following these Twitter hashtags: #RightsNotRaids and #SexWorkIsWork.
Poet's Reflections on Today's Poem
"When I first found Split This Rock, I was an aspiring poet with a sparse shelf: searching for the types of poems that connected me to parts of myself I didn’t usually feel witnessed in the world. It was a kind of awe, by virtue of the crucial day I found Split This Rock. And found the email sign-up and thought, yes, which was my first literary newsletter, having been on organizing list-serves for years. It was the first time I actively set aside specific time to read my email: before I had email on my phone, Fridays just before my smoke break at the youth centre in East Van where I worked, I would log into one of the resource room computer terminals and take in that week’s poem. Those I loved most I would print out and, if I could catch a solo smoke, which wasn’t always (and those non-solo-time conversations were smokes I cherish still as well), I’d study that week’s poem, feel my spirit widen.

I hadn’t thought of the direct connection to “Clarification Card...” until...a week before the Friday y’all will share it out, with such necessary acknowledgment of the work you put in to keep this cruciality arriving in the world, I’m thinking about those specific smokes in that specific parking lot on those specific Fridays, and I’m lit. And I give thanks: it’s everything." -- Hari Alluri

If you too find Split This Rock's work to be crucially necessary and want to help sustain it, consider donating online or scroll to the end of this email to learn other ways to give. We thank Hari for his reflections -- for they surely are fire for continuing the work. And we thank you for reading!
Poem used with permission. Photo above of Hari Alluri by Erik Haensel.

Photo Description: Black and white image of Hari Alluri in front of a blurred apartment building. Hari is bearded and smiling while facing the right of camera. Hari has black hair tufting out the front and wears a winter jacket with a black ribbed toque.

Please note: We strive to preserve the text formatting of poems over e-mail, but certain e-mail programs may distort how characters, fonts, indents, and line wraps appear.
Share Widely, But Please Give Credit!
Please feel free to share Split This Rock Poem of the Week widely. We just ask that you include all of the information above in this newsletter, as well as this request and a link to the poem at Split This Rock's website. Thanks!
Important Message from Interim Executive Director Rasha Abdulhadi & Split This Rock's Board of Directors
The poet and organizer Rasha Abdulhadi looks directly at the camera. They wear a black fedora and a wine colored blazer and a black and white scarf.

Split This Rock’s Interim Executive Director Rasha Abdulhadi will be transitioning out of the organization at the end of June. Split This Rock is deeply grateful to Rasha for their years of stewarding our community. Read the full announcement from Rasha and Split This Rock’s Board of Directors at Split This Rock’s website and join us in wishing Rasha well.
Poems for Action, Grieving, Organizing, Teaching
Your rage is the luminous gold truth of sunrise, what you sit with long enough to dissolve your fear. Your rage is heat from a magnifying glass, focused, bursting into flame. Your rage is a cool blue spotlight circling the empty stage. Your rage is the dog who won’t lie down for the wrong master, fierce hen who won’t be moved till her brood is hatched, moth who unbinds her cocoon & lifts her body toward light.
Split This Rock staff offer poem categories in The Quarry: A Social Justice Poetry Database in support of public action, grieving, organizing, teaching, or opening meetings. In honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we encourage you to explore poems by poets within these communities at The Quarry.

We also invite you to explore work by all the poets in The Quarry by searching poems by content and author identity, including:

Community Updates
If you have events, a call for submissions, or other opportunities you'd like to share with the Split This Rock network, send us the information via our Newsletter Updates Request Form. If the online form is not accessible to you, please contact us at info@splitthisrock.org for an alternate method of submission.
$5,000 Artist Relief Grants Available -- Apply by May 31!
To support artists during the COVID-19 crisis, a coalition of national arts grant makers have come together to create an emergency initiative to offer financial and informational resources to artists across the United States. Artist Relief will distribute $5,000 grants to artists facing dire financial emergencies due to COVID-19. "Dire financial emergencies” is defined as the lack of or imminent endangerment of essentials such as housing, medicine, caretaking, and food. The fund will operate through June 2021 and will fund at least 100 artists per month. To apply and learn more, visit the Artist Relief website.
The Foundation for Contemporary Arts Emergency Grant
The Foundation for Contemporary Arts (FCA) has created a temporary fund to meet the needs of experimental artists who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Through FCA's Emergency Grants COVID-19 Fund, one-time $2,000 grants are being offered to eligible artists who have lost income from an engagement that has been canceled or postponed due to the pandemic. This fund is focused on providing support to composers, choreographers, playwrights, directors, visual artists, and poets, and cannot support artists who were working on a canceled or postponed project of work that is not their own. The Foundation's panelists have been prioritizing losses from non-commercial opportunities, rather than losses from potential sales opportunities. Artists who are interested in applying are encouraged to read the eligibility guidelines at FCA's website.
Virtual Black Arts Poetry Showcase on May 7 at 7 pm ET
Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, Rho Mu Omega Chapter in partnership with the DC Pearls III Foundation is hosting a Black Arts Poetry Showcase on Friday, May 7 at 7 pm. The showcase will highlight the evolution of spoken word poetry from the Harlem Renaissance period to the present and will showcase local area talent. Ms. Regena "Sonray" Robinson, Poet and Executive Director of World Art Poetry, will serve as host for the event. The virtual event is free to the public. To register visit Rho Mu Omega's website. For additional information contact plunktia@aol.com.
Free Summer Writing Workshop with Gregory Pardlo & Airea D. Matthews, July 13-23 | Apply by May 15
The Institute for Global Racial Justice at Rutgers University—Camden is hosting a FREE virtual poets and scholars summer writing workshop led by Gregory Pardlo & Airea D. Matthews. Event will be held on July 13-23. It will include ten days of presentations, talk-backs, and a radical experiment in reimagining the traditional writing workshop as an open forum of mutual accountability. This inaugural workshop retreat invites applications from writers of all disciplines, genres, and backgrounds who are committed to antiracist writing practices. Apply by May 15. Info is available via this online PDF document. If the document is not accessible to you, send an email to isgrj@oq.rutgers.edu.
Disabilities in Africa Anthology of Writing Seeks Contributions by May 15
Disabilities in Africa Anthology of Writing seeks contributions of all genres from Disabled African Writers. Prose pieces should not exceed 5000 words. Contributors may send work in more than one genre. Please do not send more than 5 pieces. All material must be original and previously unpublished. The anthology will be published in English, but translations from other languages will be accepted. This anthology is open to all writers from Africa whether in the continent or in the diaspora. Work should be sent to Professor Kobus Moolman at jmoolman@uwc.ac.za. For more info or queries, contact either Prof Moolman or Dr. Charlotte Baker at c.baker@lancaster.ac.uk.
Virtual Lamplighter Literary Arts Summer Writing Institute
Northfield Mount Hermon School is launching the inaugural Lamplighter Literary Arts Summer Writing Institute online in July 2021 to support middle and high school fiction writers, poets, journalists, and scriptwriters. Workshops are capped at 15, with two instructors in each. Morning or night sessions are available to accommodate all time zones. The tuition fees are $900 for two weeks and $450 for one week. Scholarships are available.
For application and details, please visit the Lamplighter Literary Arts Summer Writing Institute webpage.
Furious Flower Virtual Legacy Seminar for Educators, June 21-25
The Furious Flower Poetry Center will host its fifth legacy seminar, "Groundwork: The Legacy of Poet and Editor Haki Madhubuti," June 21-25, 2021. The seminar will be virtual, and Haki Madhubuti will be joined by Carol D. Lee, Michael Simanga, Kelly Norman Ellis, and Diane Turner. There will also be a publishers panel with W. Paul Coates, Parneshia Jones, Lisa Lucas, and Patrick Oliver as moderator. The registration fee is $50. To learn more and register, visit Furious Flower's website.
Please Welcome to the Stage...: A Drag Literary Anthology Seeks Submissions by November 30
House of Lobsters Literary is looking for submissions for Please Welcome to the Stage...: A Drag Literary Anthology. They are accepting poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and art for this collection celebrating the art of drag. Submissions can be any genre and style, but drag must be a notable component of the piece. For more information and guidelines, please visit House of Lobsters Literary's website.
Help Us Sustain Split This Rock
"Poetry is a political act because it involves telling the truth." 
-- June Jordan

After we published a statement in defense of Black lives in June 2020, a major donor withdrew a critical $55,000 annual funding commitment.

Help us keep Split This Rock community-funded so we can keep centering poets and poetry that speak truth to power. Split This Rock's Board has set a bold challenge to replace this lost funding. If 1,000 people contribute $5 per month, we can replace the lost $55k in one year. If 11,000 people contribute $5 per month, we can replace the lost funding in one month, hire more staff, and fully fund Split This Rock to sustain the work long term, ensuring year-round stipends for Teaching Artists and Featured Poets, honorariums for the Poem of the Week Series, accessibility services for events, and equitable pay to honor the tremendous work of our small staff.

Please consider becoming a sustaining donor for as little as $5 per month. A monthly donation at any level increases stability as we face an uncertain funding landscape. If you aren't able to donate right now but this work means something to you, please help us share the poetry, the resources, and this call for support.

Visit Split This Rock's website to make a one-time donation or become a sustaining monthly donor today.

To mail your gift: 
Send a check payable to "Split This Rock" to: Split This Rock, 1301 Connecticut Ave NW, Suite 600, Washington DC 20036

We are grateful for the steadfast support of our audiences and communities and look forward to more brave work with you in the weeks, months, and years to come.
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