2014 April PAD Challenge: FAQs (and Tips)

2014 April PAD Challenge countdown: 1. Tomorrow is the day that all the poeming begins. Roll up your sleeves, read some Neruda, drink a little wine–whatever you need to do to get in the zone.

In the meantime, here are some frequently asked questions (with frequently given answers) and a few April poeming tips.

What is the April PAD Challenge?

It’s a poetry challenge that happens in April. The “PAD” stands for “poem-a-day.” So each and every day, I share a new poetry prompt and share my own attempt at the prompt (usually giving myself 15-20 minutes to write). Then, it’s in your hands–and yes, you can totally spend more time writing than I do. In fact, you probably should. (Btw, click here for the official guidelines.)

How do I participate in the challenge?

First, you don’t need to register or anything. Many poets follow along silently at home–or share with their writing groups. That said, you have to share your poem(s) in the comments to be considered for publication in the Poem Your Heart Out anthology.

How do I comment on the posts?

You have to log in (see the link up on the top right-hand side of the page) to share your poem in the comments. It’s free and easy to create an account.

What if my comments don’t display?

First-time comments from users go into a sort of holding cell until they’re hand-approved by one of our Writer’s Digest editors (usually, this clever and handsome guy named Brian Klems). So if it takes a day or three for your first comments to appear, don’t freak–they’re likely in that holding cell. Once your comment(s) are approved, you won’t have to wait in the future. It’s just there as a security feature–to keep out the robots and their spam. (Here’s a tip: Register right now–if you’re not already–and comment on this post, so that there’s no hold-up on April 1.)

Can I put my poem in the comments on any post?

A few days after each prompt is shared, I’ll pull the comments off that particular post. So if you want your poem for day 1’s prompt to be considered for the anthology, you’ll need to post your day 1 poem on the post titled 2014 April PAD Challenge: Day 1 (which won’t display until April 1). For day 2, there will be a post titled 2014 April PAD Challenge: Day 2, and so on.

Can I link to my poem on my blog?

Many poets do this, and that’s cool. Go for it. But please paste your poem in the comments too if you want to be considered for the anthology. I just don’t have the time to go to other blogs and hunt down poems. If they’re not in the comments on the specific post, I won’t consider them.

How does the judging work?

We are very fortunate to have some amazing guest judges (click here to view the entire list). But they are volunteering their time to this challenge, so I’ll be going through each day to winnow down a list of finalists that I will then pass on to the guest judge for each specific day.

Which day does each guest judge appear?

Each post will include at least these basic components of information: poetry prompt, my attempt, and who the guest judge is. Each day, I will reveal a new prompt, poem, and judge. So show up each day.

When will the results be announced?

My goal for the announcement is always July 4, but I reserve the right to extend that announcement if needed.

Where do I get the prompts?

The prompts will magically appear on the Poetic Asides home page each morning. The URL is: http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/poetic-asides. We do not e-mail the prompts; sorry, we’re just unable to do that without disrupting the entire WritersDigest.com platform. If it makes your life easier, consider bookmarking the Poetic Asides home page mentioned above–or go to WritersDigest.com, scroll over the Editor Blogs tab, and click on Poetic Asides.

How much does all this “amazing-ness” cost?

The challenge is completely free. Poem away with wild abandon.

Can I enter more than one poem for each prompt?

Yes, and many do. That said, we’ll be judging for quality, not quantity–so don’t be afraid to take a few moments before posting.

What if I don’t post every day?

That is fine. Sure, the main goal is to write a poem each day, but some poets can’t keep that pace. If you get and share one poem the whole month, that’s a win. Five poems, a win. 10 poems, a win. If you do 30 (or more), even better. But don’t stress yourself out; this challenge is more about having fun than anything else.


Want to get published?

Find hundreds of poetry publishing opportunities in the 2014 Poet’s Market. It’s filled with listings for book publishers, magazines, journals, contests, and more. Plus, there are articles on the craft of poetry, business of poetry, and promotion of poetry. And more, yes, so much more!

Click to continue.


So those are the FAQs; here are some tips:

5 Ways to Find Success With Your April Poeming

  1. Don’t put your only copy on the blog. While we don’t expect any issues this year, there have been times in the past when comments have disappeared into the ether. So keep copies of your poems at home–just in case.
  2. Write more, worry less. I usually give myself 15-20 minutes to dash off a first draft–so I don’t worry about making it perfect; I just write. Then, I can come back to it and tinker. First, create; then, re-create.
  3. Play to your strengths. With guest judges, I realize there’s the potential that poets will try modifying their style to fit a guest judge’s writing style and sensibilities. Avoid falling into this trap. Poets are readers too, and they’re often more excited by writing that is unique to them–not something they could’ve written themselves. Embrace your unique strengths and weaknesses as a poet.
  4. Read other poems. If you’re struggling with a prompt (or even if you’re not), reading other poets’ attempts can help inspire you. If you read a poem you like a lot, let the poet know in the comments and you’ll make his or her day.
  5. Have fun! Being chosen by a famous guest judge is excellent–and so is getting published in a super cool anthology. But remember that the main purpose of this challenge is to poem and have fun.

I’m looking forward to having fun too; just one day to go!


Robert Lee Brewer

Robert Lee Brewer

Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of Solving the World’s Problems (Press 53). A former Poet Laureate of the Blogosphere, he’s been a featured reader in events around the country and often leads workshops on writing poetry and getting published. He’s married to the poet Tammy Foster Brewer, who helps him keep track of their five kids (four boys and one princess). Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer or learn more at www.robertleebrewer.com.


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88 thoughts on “2014 April PAD Challenge: FAQs (and Tips)

  1. ArtWorks

    I’m just commenting to get myself “checked in” for the Poem-A-Day Challenge. I guess I’ll just go ahead and post my poems here and hope they eventually start “showing up”. 🙂 Looking forward to it all.

  2. inkstainedmemoirs

    Commenting now in order to not be placed behind bars in the holding cell! I do not believe I would look too hot in an orange jumpsuit, but I could probably write my way out of it. Anywho, cannot wait to participate in this challenge!

    – Elizabeth Clark (aka inkstainedmemoirs)

  3. danceoftheletters

    Dear Robert,

    Thank you for this! I am very enthused about the PAD challenge and have registered. Now, trying to post my first poem in response to today’s prompt, I am going around in circles and feeling quite frustrated.

    Even though I am logged in, when I go to bottom of comments lis on Day 7, I find “you must be logged in to reply”. So I click on the “logged in” link and am taken back to my profile, but am not given the opportunity to paste in my poem anywhere (such as a box like this showing up.) Instead, it keeps going round and round. What, if anything, am I missing??

    Also, is it only through midnight on the day of the prompt that a poem can be posted or do we have a few days?

    Thank you. I look forward to hearing back soon. (I also emailed you.)


  4. mollysuttonkiefer

    Hi Robert: I should have asked this before I dug in, but I couldn’t find the answer, so: is there a way, once this is over, to remove the poems from the comments? I ask because I’d like to be able to edit some of these poems and eventually submit them to journals and many might consider posting them here “previously published.” Or, similarly, is there an alternative way to submit to the contest rather than have the poems be posted in comments and thus likely removing them from consideration in other journals? (Can I email instead, or submit via a system, etc.?)

  5. yyulia

    Hi Robert! This PAD Challenge sounds like an exellent idea -thank you for doing that! I have a question though. Because we post poems during PAD on your blog for a quite big audience -will it be considered “published” after that and prevent me from appliying later to any poetry contest with the same poems if the contest requires only unpublished work. Thank you!

  6. MELenns

    The Beginner’s Life
    Inhale and Exhale
    Sleep and Wake
    Drink and Eat
    Urinate and Defecate
    Masturbate and Fornicate
    Mate and Impregnate
    Conceive and Gestate
    Watch and Wait
    Look and See
    When inspired Do
    In between just Be

    1. Bucky Ignatius

      OK, so I registered on March 26 or 27, posted a comment then per your instructions. I’ve been receiving direct solicitations by email for this and that from your site since then. Got my first indirect solicitation today (from F&W Publishing, a “special invitation” to submit work for publication consideration. But still cannot post a comment on this page, on Day 1 page, on Day 2 page, or anywhere else except as a reply to someone else’s posting. My eager anticipation has been replaced with frustration.

      Is further patience required? Am I doing something wrong? Any kind of help would be appreciated, but none has been forthcoming. “A day or three” is nice and folksy, but some actual information would be appreciated. Thanks to anyone who can shed light. BI

  7. dianemdavis

    GOODBYE ( from Leaving for Lowell: a mill girl story)

    “Don’t cry,”
    I whisper in Alicia’s ear,
    hugging her so close
    she groans
    before I set her free.

    She chews her bottom lip,
    then reaches into
    her apron pocket
    and tucks a hard, smooth object
    into my hand–

    a horse chestnut
    shaped like a heart
    and polished so fine
    I can see my reflection.
    Tiny lines, scratched
    through the surface
    spell Alicia
    on one side, and Manny
    on the other.

    I press that nut
    close to my heart–
    more precious than
    all the coins
    I’ll make in Lowell,
    and smile through tears
    I’d vowed
    to leave behind.

  8. Cameron Steele

    First Spring Day

    I wore nothing but goosebumps
    on my legs and your arms
    around my thin shoulders,
    letting brambles, dried-out
    soy crop and whispering
    milkgrass, catch against my
    polyester dress. We didn’t talk much
    except to imagine how
    others might imagine
    us in that moment —

    We are in an Impressionist landscape,
    and over there, on the other hill,
    Van Gogh has set up his easel
    to paint us as black specks amidst the yellow earth.
    Or see the farmhouse across the road
    and the uncurtained windows winking
    at us? There a little farmer is standing
    beside his old wife, watching us
    and waiting to see what we will do.

    — So we began to kiss in the wind,
    my arms around his neck, his hands against
    my bumpy skin. We kissed and then we stopped,
    resurfacing from the moment,
    glancing bashfully over each other’s shoulders,
    wondering at the way joy sometimes requires
    an extrapolated view from a faraway hill.

    The sun had softened the mud beneath
    our shoes. Looking back,
    I don’t know why we didn’t take them off.
    Now on cold nights,
    I stretch my feet beneath my sheets
    and pretend I’m squeezing Nebraska
    between my toes, wearing nothing
    on my skin except your kisses
    and the gazes of a long-dead painter,
    a farmer and his arthritic wife.

  9. stargypsy

    This is going to be so much fun and quite the challenge. I currently post two blogs daily. One a poetry only blog where I post a new original poem every day and the other an eclectic blog of my musings … sometimes those musings result in poetry as well!

    Ready to get started!

    1. PKP

      Welcome – when we started and got going there were perhaps 50-70 poets – I posted my first poem here and received my first on-line comment here -before I even knew that people were able or would comment! Soooo WELCOME… of course welcome to The Street … enjoy 🙂

    1. PKP

      Welcome – when we started and got going there were perhaps 50-70 poets – I posted my first poem here and received my first on-line comment here -before I even knew that people were able or would comment! Soooo WELCOME… of course welcome to The Street … enjoy 🙂

    1. PKP

      Welcome – when I started and got going there were perhaps 50-70 poets – I posted my first poem here and received my first on-line comment here -before I even knew that people were able or would comment! Soooo WELCOME… of course welcome to The Street … enjoy


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