2015 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Guidelines

Earlier this month, I had the honor of writing an endorsement for a collection of poetry by a poet I really admire. It’s not the first time I’ve had that privilege, and it likely won’t be the last. But this particular collection was very special to me, because it was a revised and expanded version of a former winning manuscript for this November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Exit, Pursued by a Bear, by Joseph Mills. (Read the 2013 winners post here.)

Many poets have contacted me over the years to let me know of the successes they’ve found in publishing individual poems and collections that started with these poetry challenges. Believe me, it helps drive me forward to hear these success stories. In a way, I feel that same joy I get when I see my children accomplish great things. So here we are: Days away from a new November PAD (Poem-A-Day) Chapbook Challenge.

The November challenge is a little different than the one in April. The guidelines in this post should help guide you through the month.

Here are the basics of the November PAD Chapbook Challenge:

  • Beginning on November 1 (Atlanta, Georgia time), I will share a prompt and poem each day of November on this blog.
  • Poets are then challenged to write a poem each day (no matter where you live on the planet) within 24 hours (or so) from when the prompt is posted. Don’t worry: If you fall behind or start late, you CAN play catch up.
  • Poets do NOT have to register anywhere to participate. In fact, poets don’t even need to post to this blog to be considered participants.
  • The Challenge will unofficially conclude around 24 hours after the final prompt is posted. That said…
  • This Challenge is unique, because I expect poets to take all the material they’ve written in November and create a chapbook manuscript during the month of December. (Yes, you can revise material, and yes, the chapbook should be composed mostly of poems written for the challenge–I’m using the honor system.)
  • Poets have until 11:59 p.m. (Atlanta, GA time) on January 15, 2016, to submit a manuscript that can be 10-20 pages in length (not including table of contents, title page, etc.) with no more than one poem per page. So if you wrote 50 poems in November, you have to narrow them down to the best 20 (or even fewer). Submit manuscripts to robert.brewer@fwcommunity.com with the subject line: 2015 November PAD Chapbook Challenge. (The subject line is very important, because I have a very busy inbox.)
  • The goal will be to announce a winning manuscript by March 20, 2016.


wd_poetry_awardsWin $1,000 for Your Poetry!

Writer’s Digest is offering a contest strictly for poets with a top prize of $1,000, publication in Writer’s Digest magazine, and a copy of the 2016 Poet’s Market.

There are cash prizes for Second ($250) and Third ($100) Prizes, as well as prizes for the Top 25 poems.

The deadline is October 30.

Click here to learn more.


What do poets get out of this challenge?

If nothing else, they get several new poems, but I’ve heard plenty of success stories over the years from poets who have gone on to publish individual poems from these challenges and even complete collections (mostly inspired by the challenges).

Plus, the winner gets recognized on this blog, along with many honorable mentions. That’s a good thing.

Regarding comments, this blog has a history with commenting problems, which why I don’t make it mandatory for poets to post on the blog to participate. However, I think poets who do comment get a lot out of it by sharing their work and creating a community on the blog. Just make sure you save all your work elsewhere too–like in a notebook or Word doc. It’s good to have backups.

If you have any additional questions, shoot them to me in the comments.

I can’t wait to see everyone in November.


Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of Solving the World’s Problems (Press 53). Follow him on Twitter @RobertLeeBrewer.


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30 thoughts on “2015 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Guidelines

  1. ReathaThomasOakley

    Don (doakley) and I started our WD poetry journey with the 2014 November PAD, and what a year it’s been. So many wonderful poems to read, and be inspired by, so many now familiar names. I’m ready for Sunday! See you all then.

  2. KarenAWK1

    This sounds intriguing. I shall try it! Although I do not know how to put together a chapbook manuscript, this will be my first attempt at it. Something new, fun, and exciting. Not sure I am ready to tackle NaNoWriMo just yet (although I have a few stories in me that are screaming to get out and in due time…soon) I would be thrilled as a bear in a honey jar just to finally get my blog/website up and running. Oh, to be a natural at technology!

    Now…about that April PAD…soon?

  3. Heather

    I really really really wanted to do NaNo this year, but alas, we’re moving this month. So, I have been trying to write a story, so I’ll use PAD to delve into the themes like I did last year. It was super helpful for exploring characters, motivations and settings. I recommend it to anyone with some time constraints on their hands.

  4. Amaria

    Im looking forward to this challenge and plan on full participation, including submitting a chapbook. Now I never done a chapbook before but I’m looking at this free competition as good practice. I’m flirting with the idea of writing only madrigal poems for the month – hopefully after the first week I’m not asking myself “what were you thinking?”

    1. James Von Hendy

      Madrigals, cool. Working with a form or having a theme in mind are both great ways to bring unity and structure to a chapbook. William Preston did both last year and his chapbook was one of the top five. My chapbook was loosely themed and also finished in the top five.

  5. James Stack

    Hmmmmm – just got off today’s #Platchal live Twitter chat where this site was posted. I had planned on doing this challenge, then got excited about NaNoWriMo – now I’m jazzed about this challenge as it is different than I had thought – a Chapbook challenge – with final results due 1/15/16 – I think I can do both – I think I can – yes, another nut. We’ll see….

  6. PKP

    Of course will be “walking The Street” (hmm did I really want to write that? … lol … suppose so since I left it in) … for the November Challenge. Looking forward to seeing y’all. Tried not to give in, but I must ask the lingering question…since I do like to have one challenge concluded before another begins … Are we close to final results for the April Challenge?

      1. De Jackson

        Of COURSE we are. 🙂 Walt and I shall have to decide where. The “spooky” prompt will be too far down to scroll. Perhaps one last transition triolet on November 1st, before moving to a new location.


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