SPLIT THIS ROCK: Poems of Provocation
Volume 9, Number 1
Introduction by Regie Cabico
Is poetry like food in that it satisfies a hunger? A basic culinary
vocabulary and listing of ingredients & spices prepared with another
list of preparation and service so that the mass of starving people
may or may not ingest to fill this "void"?
To me political poetry is borne out of a hunger that is derived out
A silence observing years of a "right" way, years of a "straight"
way, years of a "normal" way, years of a "moral"
way, years of an "American" way, years of a "religious"
way, years of a "pop culture" way, years of a "poetry
slam" way, years of an "MFA" way. A "narrative"
way, an "experimental" way… and on and on…
Anas "Andy" Shallal
detail, Peace in Struggle Wall, 2005
mural installed at Buboys and Poets, 1390 V Street NW, DC
For more information on this artist, see http://www.busboysandpoets.com/
I am the product of Filipino immigrants.
I straddled African American & Catholic, Redneck & Suburban
Middle-class life to develop an ear for English, influenced by Tagalog,
Spanish and Musical Theater. I acquired fierce literary skill to perform
what I write to stay sane and I write because American theater and media
would not cast me other than a criminal or servant. I will never be
"Filipino" and I will never be "American." I will
only be "Filipino-American." This hybrid world is where political
poetry exists for me, a "dangerous," "undefined,"
"other," "enlightened" territory. I take people
right to the edge before falling off the cliff. It is from that altitude
that I hope a "political" poem will take a listener or reader,
a height of fearlessness and grace.
What you have before you is a broad canvas of poetry that aims to fill
the "void," the "silences" that exist in a city
sound-proofed by marble, door codes and a literary history bridging
Whitman, James Baldwin and Essex
Hemphill. When you strip the CNN Washington, DC you will find
unique neighborhoods of voices bringing astute observations about gentrification,
pop culture, immigration, war, heritage, disability, history and American
iconography into the equation.
I spent the first half of my life in Washington, DC being an actor and
have recently returned from New York City, a poet, eager to fill the
"black" and "white" voids that exist. Being on the
planning committee for Split
This Rock and working with Sarah
Browning and Melissa
Tuckey has been a dream for me: creating a home in our
nation’s Capitol for national artists, to give a forum for political
poetry in the gut of a government that should hear, swallow and ingest
verses of provocation and witness. It is also an honor forming those
passionate and talented alliances with DC poets in preparation for the
arrival of like-minded artist-activists across the country for the first
DC literary festival of this magnitude.
This festival and these poets fill a long-awaited void. Our hunger is
so fierce that we can eat locusts and scorpions. Our words are borne
out of a post-9/11 plague of fear for our future, for the ignorant and
those ignored. This festival is totally grassroots, survival. Very few
corporations and governmental grants will touch us. We cook these words
to stay alive, splitting one rock at a time.
Special thanks to Kim
Roberts and Pauline Tran for their help
making this issue possible. Thanks also to Andy Shallal,
artist, restauranteur, and member of the Split This Rock advisory board,
for use of the visual image that accompanies this issue.
And please plan to join us for the Split
This Rock Poetry Festival in March! Beltway Poetry Quarterly
is coordinating three
concurrent literary walking tours that emphasize DC's rich history:
a Walt Whitman tour of downtown, a GLBT tour of Dupont Circle, and a
"Harlem" Renaissance tour of U Street. Tours take place on
Saturday, March 22 from 10:30 to noon and pre-registration is required.
Cabico, Guest Editor
Regie Cabico was born in Baltimore, MD and raised in the DC
suburbs of Prince George's County. He won the 1993 Nuyorican Poets Cafe
Grand Slam and took top prizes in the 1993, 1994, and 1997 National
Poetry Slams. He is the recipient of a 2008 Individual Artist Grant
in Poetry from the DC Commission on the Arts, three New York Foundation
for the Arts Fellowships for Poetry and Performance Art, and the Barnes
& Noble Writers for Writers Award presented by Poets & Writers.
He co-edited Poetry Nation: A North American Anthology of Fusion
Poetry (Vehicule Press, 1998) and his work appears in Aloud:
Voices from the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, The Outlaw Bible of American
Poetry, and Spoken Word Revolution, among other anthologies.
He has appeared on two seasons of HBO's Def Poetry Jam and his plays
have been produced at the Humana Theater Festival, Joe's Pub, The Public
Theater, Dixon Place, Theater Offensive, and the Kennedy Center Play
Lab. He is former artist-in-residence for NYU's Asian/Pacific/American
Institute and presently works as the Artistic Director of Sol &
Soul, an arts and activist organization promoting poetry and political
theater in Washington, DC. Regie is on the Coordinating Committee of
Split this Rock Poetry Festival.
Read more by this guest editor:
Regie Cabico: Audio Issue
Tenth Anniversary Issue
on DC Slam: Literary Organizations Issue
Regie Cabico: Langston Hughes Tribute Issue
Regie Cabico: Floricanto Issue
Regie Cabico on Essex Hemphill: Poetic Ancestors Issue
Table of Contents
Morning with Butter Sky
Report from the Front
Ghost Fishing Louisiana
When the Giraffes Come
When Columbia Road Didn't Pass Me
We Abide in the Irony
Uncle Same Regrets
J. Edgar Hoover Curses Helen
The Sun is Warm: Nagasaki, 1948
Radio Mali American Gothic Blues
The Final Talk
City of Barricades