Split This Rock continues to enrich the world of American poetry. Their poetry festivals in 2008, 2010, 2012, 2014– and upcoming in 2016– have been magnificent events, bringing poetry of witness and social justice poetry to a wide audience. Their workshops, youth work, the Freedom Plow Award, and many other activities, all enliven American poetry. Now they’re offering us something that can reach classrooms, workshops, even the quiet of one’s own reading: Split This Rock’s Social Justice Poetry Database. Titled, “The Quarry,” this database holds more than 300 poems “by a diverse array of contemporary socially engaged poets, published by Split This Rock since 2009. Like all of Split This Rock’s programs, The Quarry is designed to bring poetry fully to the center of public life.” And it will.
Readers can search the database for the work of a particular poet by name, or by that poet’s identification– work by Latina poets, work by African-American poets. Readers can also search the The Quarry by theme– poems on police brutality, poems on coming out, poems on immigration. Readers can search by the poet’s geography, language, and format. This indexing makes the database amazingly useful, especially for people with little familiarity with today’s poetry.
As a teacher, I know I will use this database to share poems with my American Literature students as well as with my Creative Writing students. As a poet, I know I will browse these poems to see what others are writing, how they approach different topics and issues in American life. As a reader of poetry, I will savor these poems as a personal call to work for justice more effectively in the world.
With “The Quarry,” Sarah Browning, Split This Rock’s founder, and the remarkable staff, give us all a profoundly powerful resource. I am always grateful for the essential work Split This Rock does in the poetry world. I am especially grateful for this new project. Big Congratulations and Gratitude to Split This Rock!