Saturday, December 6, 2014

Split This Rock call for poems: We Who Believe in Freedom Cannot Rest

December 5, 2014
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We Who Believe in Freedom Cannot Rest - 
Call for Poems that Resist Police Brutality 
& Demand Racial Justice

Until the killing of Black men, Black mothers' sons, becomes as important to the rest of the country as the killing of a white mother's son-we who believe in freedom cannot rest. 
                    - Ella Baker

Even as our hearts break in rage and anguish over the murder of Black and brown people throughout the land by police who are not held accountable, here at Split This Rock we are heartened by the powerful actions in the streets and the visionary leadership of mostly young people of color in this growing movement for justice.

We are also moved by the poets, who continue to speak out, and especially by BlackPoetsSpeakOut and its manifesto: "I am a black poet who will not remain silent while this nation murders black people. I have a right to be angry." Another powerful forum is VONA/Voices Against Racial Injustice.

In solidarity, Split This Rock offers our blog as a Virtual Open Mic, open to all: 
  • Send us your poems on the long history of the brutalization of Black and brown bodies and we will publish them on Split This Rock's blog, Blog This Rock, to create a running open mic. We welcome poems new and old, whether previously published or not. (Please include credit information for previously published.)

    Thematically we are wide open: resistance, mourning, rage, celebration. Send the poem(s) as email attachments (.doc or .docx only) with the subject line "We who believe in freedom"
  • From the open mic collection, we will choose poems to run as Poem of the Week in the weeks ahead. We will contact you directly if we decide to use your poem for Poem of the Week.
We are proud to begin this series today, with "bitter crop," as our Poem of the Week, by Kelli Stevens Kane. Please share her poem and this call widely.
As the virtual open mic grows, we hope to print out and present all the poems to the U.S. Department of Justice, along with the national demands for police accountability and racial justice articulated by Ferguson Action. Stay tuned for details.

In grief and resistance,
Split This Rock
Poem of the Week: 
Kelli Stevens Kane

bitter crop 

blueberry blackberry as always
bleeding, back road or boulevard,
our boy crowned with baton,
breathing, barely, if you
believe the breeze is just 
air blowing through branches

above the fruited plain

have a seat. when our baby left
we believed he'd come back
in his body. we believed
youngberries grew
into elderberries. but now,
when the wind blows
against your necks, know it's him,
you feel him now that he's up

above the fruited plain

don't you? I hate pavement, I hate summer,
I hate yellow tape, I hate chokeberry,
pokeberry, the way it'll always be too late
to comfort him. the way I'll never dare to say
I hate you back
to our strange America that only protects the few

above the fruited plain

                                    -for Michael Brown and  


Used with permission.
Kane reads her poem in solidarity withBlackPoetsSpeakOut

Kelli Stevens Kane is a poet, playwright, and oral historian based in Pittsburgh, PA. She's a Cave Canem Fellow, an August Wilson Center Fellow, and a Flight School Fellow, and has twice received Advancing Black Arts in Pittsburgh grants from The Pittsburgh Foundation. She's studied at VONA, Hurston/Wright, and Callaloo. She reads her poetry and oral history, and performs her one woman show, BIG GEORGE, nationally. For more information, please visit and
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. Please,visit the poem at our site.

Please feel free to forward Split This Rock Poem of the Week widely. We just ask you to include all of the information in this email, including this request. Thanks!
If you are interested in reading past poems of the week, feel free to visit the blog archive. 
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