A Note from Sarah Browning, Executive Director of Split This Rock
Every poem is a testament. Every poem calls us to pay attention. Every poem asks, What are we noticing today? And by noticing, valuing. Whose story calls to us?
At Split This Rock, we have tried to enlarge that circle of value every day, to hear as many voices as we could, and to amplify especially those that had been, as Arundhati Roy says, not voiceless, but deliberately silenced, exiled from the center of literary culture.
Sometimes, if we are lucky, we meet the right person at exactly the right time. And so it was that with that beautiful luck, the poet and disability rights activist Kathi Wolfe came on the Coordinating Committee of the very first Split This Rock Poetry Festival. Kathi asked if the rest of us understood that disability rights are civil rights. She asked if we wanted a presentation on the issue and I, admitting to not knowing the history of the movement, agreed.
From then on, poets with disabilities have been included in Split This Rock programming and we have worked hard to make our first and subsequent website accessible to people who are blind and low vision and that all our programming takes place in accessible spaces. We made accessibility one of Split This Rock’s core values.
We haven’t always gotten it right. Sometimes, some poets, some people, have felt excluded. When that’s been the case, when they’ve told us, we’ve done our damnedest to listen, to apologize, to correct the mistake when we could, to open the circle more widely.
At Split This Rock Poetry Festival 2018, during the organization’s tenth anniversary, more panels than ever examine disability poetics, that wildly open and various category. And we’re thrilled to partner with Deaf Poets Society for this special issue to coincide with the festival. These poems are testament. They tell the story of our time. They are value, they are welcome. We’re grateful to the editors and the poets and to you, who experience the poems in any way you may.