If you’re looking for some clarity in the chaos, turn to the poets. About 700 of them are in D.C. for the Split This Rock Poetry Festival: Poems of Provocation & Witness 2018, and they aim to use words to cut through the slop of the day and arrive at truth, exposing the cores of injustices and writing the songs of resistance. This biennial poetry festival takes over the weekend, this Friday allowing phenomenal poets—poet-activists, to be specific—Elizabeth Acevedo (pictured), Sherwin Bitsui, Kwame Dawes, and Solmaz Sharif to speak their works. Then on Saturday it continues with a reading and book signing from Ilya Kaminsky, Sonia Sanchez, and Paul Tran. Split This Rock is more than a festival. It’s a call for poets to spur social change, so it follows that among the many engaging events are a panel titled “Kevlar Hearts: Poetic Strategies for Engaging Police Violence,” a workshop called “Swamps + Sweetgums: Poetics of Marronage,” and a program described as “Robots Speak Back!: Asian American Speculative Poetry Reading.” Read more>>> The festival runs April 19 to April 21 at various venues. Prices vary. (202) 787-5210. splitthisrock.org. (Alexa Mills)
OH AND ALSO
Friday: Renowned comedian Tracy Morgan returns to the Kennedy Center Concert Hall stage for a standup show. 8 p.m. at 2700 F St. NW. $39–$79.
Friday: Hip-hop artist Joey Bada$$ performs at the Fillmore Silver Spring with opening acts Boogie, Buddy, and Dessy Hinds. 8 p.m. at 8656 Colesville Road, Silver Spring. $30.
Saturday: Good ol’ Mother Earth is in rough shape these days. Hurricanes here, schizoid weather patterns there, polar ice melting like room-temperature butter. While President Trump might think that global warming is “an expensive hoax,” the grim reality, according to all reputable scientists, is that unchecked anthropogenic climate change will soon wreak such havoc on the planet as to make us yearn for the era of 90-degree April days. But don’t reach for the cyanide bottle just yet—or, at least, not before going to Earth Optimism Day at the National Zoo. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the zoo will host a variety of family-friendly exhibits and presentations meant to celebrate Earth Day in the most positive way possible. At 11 a.m., NPR’s Mindy Thomas will host an “optimistic” discussion with zookeepers and Smithsonian scientists. Throughout the day, experts stationed around the zoo will present on their work with habitats such as coral reefs and the South American rainforests, recount some recent conservation victories, and do their best to convince us that all is not lost in the battle to save the planet and its inhabitants. Here’s hoping they’re correct! Read more>>> The event begins at 10 a.m. at the National Zoo, 3001 Connecticut Ave. NW. Free. (202) 633-4888. nationalzoo.si.edu. (Justin Peters)
Saturday: Nature educators Chris and Martin Kratt present the stage version of their animal science show Wild Kratts live at DAR Constitution Hall. 1 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. at 1776 D St. NW. $52.50.
Saturday: Echostage welcomes electronic music producer Slushii. 9 p.m. at 2135 Queens Chapel Road NE. $25–$30.
Sunday: In King Drummer, a colorful 1967 musical, prolific Taiwanese actor Yun Ling plays a drummer who grew up playing rhythms on rusty oil barrels. His career gets a boost when he’s picked to replace the hot-shot percussionist in a popular band, but those sequined tuxedos he wears can’t protect him from a rival who would just as soon beat him like a tom-tom. King Drummer is director Umetsugu Inoue’s remake of his own 1957 film, The Stormy Man, reportedly adapting his Japanese style to suit the dynamic pop aesthetic of Hong Kong’s legendary Shaw Brothers. As part of the Freer Gallery of Art’s homage to Inoue, “Japan’s Music Man,” it screens this violent melodrama set in a world of swinging ’60s nightclubs where drum solos can make or break a band. Read more>>> The film screens at 2 p.m. at the Freer Gallery of Art, Jefferson Drive and 12th Street SW. Free. (202) 633-1000. freersackler.si.edu. (Pat Padua)
Sunday: Grammy-nominated soul and R&B singer-songwriter Kenny Lattimore hits The Birchmere stage. 7:30 p.m. at 3701 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria. $45.
Sunday: Pulitzer-winning writer Gregory Pardlo discusses his memoir chronicling his youth, two marriages, alcoholism, parenthood, and his complicated relationship with his father, Air Traffic: A Memoir of Ambition and Manhood in America, at Politics and Prose. 5 p.m. at 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW. Free.
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