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Split This Rock Poetry Festival Comes to Washington DC


Washington DC will be hosting a meeting of minds and souls as the Split This Rock Poetry Festival hits the city from April 19 to the 21st.

From the press release:

"Split This Rock Poetry Festival: Poems of Provocation & Witness (April 19-21, 2018) invites poets, activists, poetry lovers, and dreamers to Washington, DC for three days of readings, workshops, panel discussions, youth programming, activism.

Celebrating Split This Rock's 10th anniversary, the festival will feature some of the most significantly and artistically vibrant poets today, including Elizabeth Acevedo, Kazim Ali, Ellen Bass, Sherwin Bitsui, Kwame Dawes, Camille T. Dungy, Ilya Kaminsky, Sharon Olds, Sonia Sanchez, Solmaz Sharif, Terisa Siagatonu, Paul Tran, and Javier Zamora!

The gathering offers opportunities to speak out for justice, build connection and community, and celebrate the many ways poetry can act as an agent for social change. Split This Rock Poetry Festival is DC's premiere poetry event and the only festival of its kind in the country, highlighting poets working at the intersection of the imagination and social change!"

To learn more, go to:

Split This Rock Poetry Festival
April 19 - 21, 2018

Various Locations
Washington DC

Get a Free Ride by “Taking The E-Train” In Harlem This Weekend


When writer/creator Lapacazo Sandoval envisioned “Taking The E-Train,” her fun guide to riding this major subway line, she did anticipate that her little tome would enjoy life as a multimedia concept. But not until master teacher Amanda McDowall came up with her adaptation of the book as a music theater experience, did this book realize in real-time its possibilities. With that in mind, she married African drumming, song and hip-hop choreography to the lively narrative.

McDowall’s day job is teaching musical theater at the Harlem School of the Arts (HSA), so it’s natural for her to be directing of this free theatrical reading of this new children story this weekend, Saturday, November 4th at 10 am. It is the inaugural event to launch a kids music theater series at the school. “Taking The E Train” makes for important selection to serves as the kick off for the reading series. 

As McDowall explains, “It is perfect to kick off the reading series because the story itself is such a New York City story, and at a place like the Harlem School of the Arts where we have an incredibly diverse group of students, we get to really highlight kids who may not have been featured before.”

The Harlem School of the Arts (HSA) has partnered with publisher KaZoom Kids iStoryBooks, to launch this reading series designed to stimulate a love of reading, especially for kids of color. Too often African American and Latino children are disconnected from the stories they see in the books available to them because they do not see themselves represented there.

This theatrical reading is about adventurous Abuela who takes her three grandchildren on an adventure on the E train on one of the hottest days of summer -- no wonder, because the E train has the best air conditioning. Another story, also a part of the series, is “Everybody Loves Cake,”which  illuminates the joy of baking with Sharon and Grandmother Abuela as they create new and delicious treats while keeping tradition and making “sweet” memories. In “Kason’s Kite,” a father and son bond over a kite making project. 

The multicultural KaZoom ebooks use sight, sound, motion, and animation to stimulate kids to interact and become more engaged with the stories they read.  

With that in mind, McDowell enthusiastically adds, “The book also really lends itself to allow a huge group of performers to participate which is always great. All our students are so hungry and so ready to perform and we get to give the opportunity to so many of them because of that.”

 Besides her role as a teacher, McDowall has been dressing the kids who participate in the Macy’s Day Thanksgiving Parade for the past six years. She provides the kids and audience alike with a rich creative experience. 

Given that Harlem School of the Arts is New York City’s premier community arts institution, McDowall has had an opportunity to do something that can really inspire kids and adults alike. HSA’s alumni and faculty are counted among the most talented leaders in the arts.

HSA is unique in that it’s the sole provider of arts education in four disciplines: music, dance, theatre, and visual arts, all within an award-winning 37,000 square foot facility. With a reputation for artistic rigor and excellence it attracts constituents of diverse socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds from all five New York City boroughs as well as Westchester County, Connecticut and New Jersey

For more than 50-years, HSA has enriched the lives of tens of thousands of young people ages 2-18 through its world-class training in the arts. Given the institution’s prominence, it is an ideal platform for multicultural author Sandoval to see her work presented. A longtime contributor to and the New York Amsterdam News, the veteran writer has created a whole series of classic New York stories for kids;  HSA will be the perfect place to experience them live.

To learn more about the Harlem School of the Arts and other events there go to: Or look at @HSAnyc on Twitter as well as

Visit this link for the Kazoom Books storytelling event:

“Taking The E-Train” Free Reading
written Lapacazo Sandoval
directed by Amanda McDowall

Saturday, November 4th at 10am

Harlem School of the Arts
645 Saint Nicholas Avenue
New York, NY 10030

PEN World Voices Festival 2013

Assembling academics, writers, philosophers, and great thinkers the world over, the 9th Annual PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature (April 29 – May 5, 2013, various venues) is like an intellectual version of the Avengers, just substitute fighting aliens with contemplating the human condition. An open letter written by the festival organizers states that PEN World Voices brings “remarkable writers, journalists, philosophers from all over the world to our City, where we discuss and debate some of the most sensitive issues of our lives today.”

Speakers at the festival include:

  • Judith Butler
  • Eduardo Galeano
  • Joy Harjo
  • Aleksandar Hemon
  • Jamaica Kincaid
  • Ursula Krechel
  • Fran Lebowitz
  • Claudio Magris
  • Pierre Michon
  • Téa Obreht
  • Salman Rushdie
  • Sapphire
  • Charles Simic
  • Naomi Wolf

The opening night (April 29) lecture on bravery in arts, politics, and society and is hosted by comedian Baratunde Thurston, formerly ofThe Onion and author of the New York Times bestseller How To Be Black.

PEN World has several lecture series on various topics, including obsession and the role it plays in the creative process (Naomi Wolf on Truth) and workshops for aspiring artists and writers (What the Wu-Tang Clan Tells Us About Political Publishing with Bhaskar Sunkara).

One of the more unusual events is The Quiet Volume, a performance conducted by Ant Hampton and Tim Etchells, which is described as “A self-generated and ‘automatic’ performance, Autoteatro, for two at a time experienced in the reading room of a library, audience members sit side-by-side taking cues from words both written and whispered – via an iPod and headphones – and find themselves burrowing an unlikely path through a pile of books.”

As one of the most major literary events in New York, PEN World Voices offers a wide array of speakers and views, making it an engaging literary event on a global scale.

To learn more, go to:

PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature
April 29 – May 5, 2013

Various Venues

New Yorker Festival: Art, Literature & Humorous Captions

new yorkerAssembling a unique amalgamation of minds from the worlds of entertainment, literature, the arts, and culture, The New Yorker Festival (October 5 – 7, 2012) addresses the forefront of art and culture.

Spread throughout Manhattan (locations include The Frick Collection (1 East 70th St.), the South Street Seaport Museum (12 Fulton St.), and the Gramercy Theater (127 East 23rd St.), among others), the NYF is split into several categories with various speakers.

Read more: New Yorker Festival: Art,...

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