2016 April PAD Challenge: Guidelines

It’s time to start prepping for the 9th annual April PAD Challenge. In one month, we’ll start meeting here every day to poem like it’s (Inter)National Poetry Month. Poets from the United States, Canada, Mexico, Spain, Germany, India, Japan, Australia, United Kingdom, South Africa, and several other countries have participated in this challenge over the years.

I’ve run into teachers and students who’ve used the challenge as a way to work poetry into the classroom. I’ve heard from published poets with multiple collections that contain poems inspired by the prompts in these challenges. I’ve heard from poets who wrote their first ever poems during in response to these challenges. So I know this challenge is equally for the beginning and established poets, because it’s a springboard–a way to get started.

What is the April PAD Challenge?

PAD stands for Poem-A-Day, so this is a challenge in which poets write a poem each day of April. Usually, I’ll post a prompt in the morning (Atlanta, Georgia, time), and poets will write a poem in response.

Some poets share those poems on the blog in the comments; others keep their words to themselves. I don’t require comments on the blog to participate, but it does make it more fun when poets are firing away on the blog.


Recreating_Poetry_Revise_PoemsRe-create Your Poetry!

Revision doesn’t have to be a chore–something that should be done after the excitement of composing the first draft. Rather, it’s an extension of the creation process!

In the 48-minute tutorial video Re-creating Poetry: How to Revise Poems, poets will be inspired with several ways to re-create their poems with the help of seven revision filters that they can turn to again and again.

Click to continue.


Who can participate?

Anyone who wants to write poetry–whether you’ve been writing all your life or just want to give it a shot now, whether you write form poetry or free verse, whether you have a certain style or have no clue what you’re doing. The main thing is to poem (and yes, I use poem as a verb).

I should also note that I’m pretty open to content shared on the blog, but I do expect everyone who plays along in the comments to play nice. There have been moments in the past in which I’ve had to remove or warn folks who got a little carried away. My main goal is to make the challenge fun for all.

(That said, please send me an e-mail if you ever feel like someone is crossing the line. I don’t want to act as a censor–so don’t use me in that way–but I do want to make sure people aren’t being bullied or attacked in the comments.)

Where do I share my poems?

If you want to share your poems throughout the month, the best way is to paste your poem in the comments on the post that corresponds with that day’s prompt. For instance, post your poem for the Day 1 prompt on the Day 1 post in the comments.

You’ll find folks are pretty supportive on the Poetic Asides site. And if they’re not, I expect to be notified via e-mail.

If you are new to WritersDigest.com, you’ll be asked to register (it’s free) on the site to make comments. Plus, your comments will likely not immediately show, because I’ll have to approve them. This is just for folks completely new to the site. I believe after I approve your comments once, you’re good to go for future comments.


Workshop your poetry!

In the Advanced Poetry Writing workshop, poets will write and receive feedback on 6 poems during the 6-week course. Receive feedback from the instructor, receive revision techniques, and more.

Click to continue.


Here are some more April PAD Challenge guidelines:

  • Poeming begins April 1 and runs through May 1 (to account for time differences in other parts of the world–and yes, poets all over the world participate).
  • The main purpose of the challenge is to write poems, but I also will choose my favorite poems of the month from poets who submit up to 5 poems by May 5 to my e-mail address (robert.brewer@fwcommunity.com) with the subject line: My April PAD Submission. Poets can only submit up to 5 poems, and I will only consider the first submission–so make sure it’s what you meant to send. Unless you need formatting in Word, please include the poems in the body of your e-mail message. It makes my life a lot easier. Also, please include your name in the e-mail.
  • If you do need to use a file, include all poems in that one file.
  • I will attempt to make selections by September 15, and they’ll be announced on this blog.
  • Poem as you wish, but I will delete poems and comments that I feel are hateful. Also, if anyone abuses this rule repeatedly, I will have them banned from the site. So please “make good choices,” as I tell my 4-year-old daughter.

Other rules, questions, concerns, etc?

If you need any other questions answered, put them in the comments below, and I’ll revise this post as needed.

Other than that, I can’t wait to start poeming in April!


Follow me on Twitter @robertleebrewer


For a taste of what April might bring, here are a few old Wednesday Poetry Prompts:

You might also like:

  • No Related Posts

29 thoughts on “2016 April PAD Challenge: Guidelines

  1. mexmiel

    The great Time Out

    This has been the year
    of my great time out,
    of standing still and looking inward.
    Like the discovery of remains
    of those in the Shanidar Cave
    in the Zagros Mountains,
    I see myself unearthed with others
    staring at pads of paper,
    pens in hand.

    Will scientists 50,000 years
    in the future think of me as a curiosity
    of the twenty-first century
    and label me Scribbler 1?

    Yet they will never know
    the grief and creativity
    that pulsed through my heart,
    any more than we know
    the fear of the Neanderthal
    called Shanidar 3
    as he came in contact
    with his Cro-Magnon killer.

  2. mexmiel

    Day 13 last —-

    I rode my motorcycle through
    the open countryside.
    Rain bleared my vision, drenched
    my coat and trousers, yet
    I battled with the elements,
    leaning hard on handlebars,
    until my wheel sank deep
    in a crevasse and I was airborne.

    Blood and black water pooled around my head,
    and losing breath and sight, I was caught
    where life and death consolidate as one

    The plant roots welcomed me,
    growing slowly, softly obstinate,
    reaching me quietly with patience.

    My cells became
    the richness plants desire
    but can’t take by design.
    My chance encounter here
    gave them the necessity they need
    to multiply, ignorant of the human world
    of foolish planning and intent.

  3. mexmiel

    DAY 12

    When I die, I want them to write
    about all the mistakes I’ve made,
    mention how many rejection letters
    I’ve received from Poetry and Atlantic
    from Penguin and Simon & Schuster.
    Let them say my novels were mediocre
    and my short stories lacked passion.
    That I worked hard but never got an agent,
    how the bananas from my trees
    were not sweet enough
    and my tennis serves lacked pop.
    What do any of us really accomplish?
    My friend Jim said,
    “We do the best we can.”
    So let them write I did the best I could.
    Let them write that I loved
    the best I knew how and messed
    that up, too. It’s what people do,
    those who are writing their way
    to the forgotten shelves of old libraries.
    Well-intentioned and foundering,
    faithful and confused as I was,
    I made mistakes. So have mercy on
    my failed efforts
    have mercy on my longing to shine,
    my desire to be remembered.

    The Rapper
    A hoodlum thought his raps are good
    And they flowed from his brain as they should.
    So he scribbled each night
    but his raps were all trite
    He joined the little-read writing hood

  4. mexmiel

    DAY 11

    Something is wrong in the poetic world
    when poets become obtuse:
    Minimalists reduce ideas to nothingness,
    and Modernists ridicule all.
    Poets have let the dark ages return –
    they burn each other at the stake.

    Yet a single poet,
    all alone in the wilderness,
    can commune with the infinite.
    Poets have a direct pipeline to the spirit
    and write new prayers
    in any language reflecting
    the light that envelopes everything,
    that chronicles journeys into the Psyche,
    and underlies all human expressions.

    Poetism sees the truth is difficult.

    Neuro-scientists who have reduced
    all human emotions to brain chemistry
    are blind men trying
    to understand an elephant.
    Poetism is that gigantic animal.
    Poets must not be blind to something much larger
    than their small hands can fathom.

    Poets must stretch their arms
    around the world of human longing,
    and Poetism will increase their grasp.

    New Formalists, Spoken Word rebels,
    Beats and the Post-Modern Minimalists,
    each puts forth a one-sided view.

    Poetism examines the many forms of human endeavor.

    Beat or Cowboy, Harlem Renaissance or Imagist,
    Modernist or New Formalist, Slam or Surrealist,
    Poetism encompasses the entire sphere of beauty.

  5. mexmiel

    day 10

    Soldiers in show bravery.
    But who would volunteer
    to face their country’s enemies
    with the certainty of
    never coming back.
    Soldiers fight hoping to return
    from fields of battle
    to love and family.
    But people growing old
    show courage.
    For the aged, there is no going back,
    no return to youth from where they came.
    They must stand fast
    against an unbeatable foe,
    accept the wounding
    of their eyes and ears,
    corruption of their flesh,
    the heartaches and the gradual decay,
    all burdens of an enervated life.
    Courageously they wait their days.
    Patiently, like cats before a mouse hole,
    they watch their comrades fall,
    succumb to darkness.
    And like Bunyan’s Pilgrim,
    they enter the everlasting night alone.

  6. Genevieve

    Hi Robert,
    Thank you for the writing prompts. I often forget to slow down and write poetry. How do I find my poem when I want to go back and see if there are any comments? It’s difficult to go back through so many posts looking for them.
    Thank you.

    1. Flyermom

      First time posting, so please give a shout out if I did this wrong.


      it’s the beeping and the blaring
      and the honking of the taxis and
      the buses and the delivery trucks
      that swerve around the potholes
      they’ve created in my asphalt
      by the repeated skidding and halting
      of their tires from constantly
      driving the same identical routes
      for years underneath the showy
      billboards and expensive
      marquees flashing and flickering
      their announcements and
      advertisements all through
      the night and even the day while
      the street lights blink red, then
      green, then yellow keeping time
      with the walk and don’t walk
      commands at my intersections
      where clippety-clappety,
      tippety-tappety shoes pound
      on my top-coat and wear away
      my sheen leaving my
      crosswalk stripes so faded
      one has to ask if they were
      even there to begin with.

  7. mexmiel

    based on Self-Portrait with Straw Hat by Vincent Van Gogh

    focus on the eyes
    they look fearfully askance
    a mask of pain
    a trapped animal looking for a way out
    a yellow hat pulled down
    over auburn hair and deep depression
    returning to his room
    from the bar
    where he drinks absinthe
    he falls in love with yellow
    nibbling paint chips
    and sees the halos
    around the stars
    I, too, would have scorned you
    and your garish paintings,
    refused to notice
    the wildness of your colors
    your sunflowers like flames
    from your burning fingers

  8. mexmiel

    Day 5 experience

    I parked my truck off Highway 90
    between the Big Bend Telephone tower
    and Chinati Peak.
    Laying on the hood
    the warmth of the engine pleasant
    in the cool desert night.
    I heard rustling among the cactus
    smelled the javalina
    and waited for the lights.
    I was told they vary
    in intensity from dim
    to blinding brilliance
    as they bounce across the desert.

    I sat up when
    I saw flashing red and blue lights
    and heard a vehicle grinding to a halt.

    I heard a door open and a voice called out
    “What the hell you doing here
    in the middle of the night?”

    “I’m waiting for the lights. The Marfa Lights.”
    “I never seen them,” he said,
    “but some of my friends have.
    Y’all have a good night.”

    He drove away and I was alone again
    in the silence of the desert
    and the ghostly brilliance of the milky way.

  9. mexmiel

    2016 April PAD Challenge: Day 4


    I remember the spring
    we spent hiking in the mountains
    through the mud and snow
    you loved the vanilla scent of pine trees
    and I love the scent of your body
    I tried to capture you in a poem
    your mind and the lightness of your smile
    but the best of you no words could contain
    you could not follow me
    and we ended all too soon
    I keep you in my memory
    when my life is not enough.

  10. mexmiel

    2016 April PAD Challenge: Day 3


    I pointed to the photograph
    trapping us in time –
    three young men,
    though fifty years have aged the film
    to yellow, their faces
    still show youth’s smooth unwrinkled brows.
    I smiled, showing crooked teeth,
    this one looked away, seeing perhaps a future hope,
    And this one adopted a jaunty reckless pose,
    head to one side, hand on his hip

    We posed outside our high school, at a dance.
    The oak tree and the rough brick wall
    still there and have not changed.
    From where we stood
    we heard the hum of traffic
    and the laughter of young girls.

    This one died struck head-on by an alcoholic,
    and lived for hours while brave men
    tried in vain to save him.
    And this one, wasted away, felled by cancer,
    a jealous lover, his body disappearing into sheets.

    Now we are fifty years gone
    and I, like Ishmael, am left alone to tell our tale.

  11. mexmiel

    Day 2 he said, she said.

    She had not changed much in ten years
    when she spoke to me
    at the reunion party. “I remember you.”

    “Well, we ran in different circles.
    You hung with the cheerleaders,
    and the jocks, who faked being cool
    and self assured.”

    She laughed. “You were the nerdy one,
    working in the library,
    booky and socially inept.”

    “I was the first
    in my immigrant family
    to go on to college.”

    “I married a stock broker,
    had two children and a divorce.”

    “I got a PhD, taught literature,
    and wrote two novels,
    before I understood I was gay.”

    They both wanted
    to understand the lives
    they never lived
    and talked about aging,
    and how they both missed the youth
    they were too young to understand.

  12. Friend

    We are fools for Christ, says Paul,
    sarcastically criticizing those
    who are wise and prudent in the Lord.
    How carefully they avoid
    silly beliefs like the incarnation–who
    would believe the infinite creator
    of the universe would come into
    a Jewish baby–miracles, they
    explain them away, and, heck,
    who would believe
    in the resurrection?
    The wise get books published,
    appear on talk shoes,
    give the Great Courses.
    So we fools
    stumble to a church of imperfect people,
    kneel to receive our saviour’s body,
    and strive
    to love and hope
    in our foolishness.

  13. mexmiel

    Mel Goldberg

    Sit outside under an umbrella
    with your book of poems on a sunny day.

    Relax in a comfortable chair
    with a cup of tea or a cold beer.

    Listen to the music around you
    bees and wasps are wing quartets.

    Bask in the warmth of the day
    and of the poems you read.

    Allow the sunlight to caress
    each page as you turn them in your book
    wondering who will appear next.

    On one page you find Philip Levine
    exposing his Jewish heritage
    against his exposure to the country
    that built the death camps

    and Natasha Trethewey on the next,
    exploring the dichotomies of
    insider and outsider, memory and forgetting..

    Perhaps Allen Tate’s verses of
    the life and landscapes of the agrarian South
    or Charles Simic’s visceral decreation
    of central Europe’s woods, ponds, and peasant furniture.

    On another page you may find
    Ted Kooser’s vanishing way of life

    or Donald Hall’s longing for a more bucolic past
    and his abiding reverence for nature.

    If you listen carefully
    you will hear the drums and bugles
    of a fool’s poetry parade outside your house.

    The parade is endless.
    Put down your book,
    go into the street and join them

  14. Rob Winters

    I have a question about the rules. Are the poems being judged by how well they match the prompt, or are you just choosing the best poems on their own merits? I only ask because, in the last challenge, some screeners seemed to indicate that this was an important criteria, and some did not.

    I prefer not to treat the prompts like jeopardy questions; as long as the day’s effort results in a good draft, I feel like I’m ahead of the game.

  15. Bruce Niedt

    Wow, Robert – looks like you’re really scaling back this year and going back to the original format of the contest. No book, no guest judges, but also, I would imagine, no 25,000-30,000 entries to slog through. I would have liked to see at least some elements of the last two years’ contests retained, but I also understand why you had to do this, and I still eagerly await April 1st.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.