Winners of the 2013 November PAD Chapbook Challenge Announced!

Yes, I said winners–and I’m not including the honorable mentions (mentioned below). There were more than 80 chapbook submissions for the 2013 challenge, and I narrowed these down to a short list of 17. Those 17 became eight, and I finally got stuck on two manuscripts. So this year’s challenge ends in a draw with two very worthy chapbooks:

  • Exit, Pursued By a Bear, by Joseph Mills
  • Lost, Found, by Taylor Graham

Both winners have been competing in the challenge for years. That’s not why I chose them, but it may explain why they rose to the top. It was obvious from reading both manuscripts that they were focused on a specific topic or theme.

In Exit, Pursued By a Bear, Mills uses Shakespeare and stage directions to guide his poems while still trying to incorporate the November prompts. Here are a couple of my favorites:

Enter the Duchess in a white sheet, by Joseph Mills

Those working wardrobe know
there are two kinds of sheets
in Shakespeare, white and bloody.

The first often becomes the second
and then becomes the first again:
wedding to wounding to winding.

It’s a common progression,
perhaps, the fundamental one;
still, each time he must start,

as every writer does,
contemplating white sheets,
then staining them, one by one,

until by the end, ink-crammed
with rhymes and bodies,
they sail ever graveward.


Enter Hamlet, by Joseph Mills

She gives the remembrances back.
The letters. The birthday cards.
His dress shirt she wore in bed.
The stuffed animal from the fair.
The mix-tapes. The bracelets.
She boxes them all, an act of strength
since she’s the one being jilted,

and he can’t bear to look at them,
these objects that bear witness.
He wants to walk away. Deny
he gave her aught. But here it is–
scarf, earrings, ticket stubs,
postcards, photo booth strips–
a world of too too solid things.


In Lost, Found, Graham plays with the concepts of things lost and things found. In fact, the opening poem is a triolet titled “The search continues for a missing boy…” And she doesn’t stop with the triolet, Graham uses several poetic forms, including haibun, lunes, sonnet, and more. Here are a couple of my favorites from Graham’s collection:

Lovers in November, by Taylor Graham

It’s snowing up there,
you’ve been kept away so long.
And so I write you
of rain that never comes here,
my drought. I’m waiting for you.

A cup of loose-leaf
tea by the stove. Your letter
warms the cold evening.
Our sun sets southerly now
under clouds, beckoning home.


Half-Moon Lunes, by Taylor Graham

We’re halfway between
the new moon
and its full silver.

It’s just risen.
Come outside, walk with me
under this moon

in its cold shiver,
Our garden’s frost-bit

but our woodstove
blazes with the fire
you built me.

The moon’s just at half,
like our lives
moving toward some whole.


Graham and Mills put together my two favorite chapbooks, but there were others that put up a good fight. These honorable mentions made it through multiple readings, and I’m not complaining one bit.

Here are the honorable mentions for 2013:

  • Needs, by Barbara Young
  • Salt Water (and other solutions that sting), by De Jackson
  • Traveling Alone Together, by Jane Shlensky
  • Love Torn, by Pearl Ketover Prilik
  • The Wild Gospel of Careening, by Steve Brightman
  • Some Birds in Hand, by William Preston

Congratulations to Taylor, Joseph, and everyone who made honorable mention! And congratulations to everyone who went through the process of putting together a chapbook manuscript!

That is a real accomplishment!


A few notes:

  • First, there’s a WD Poetic Forms challenge underway at the moment (deadline: February 23). Click to continue.
  • Second, there’s a free Remixing the World’s Problems challenge with a $500 prize (deadline: May 15). Click to continue.
  • Third, the next poem-a-day challenge will start on this very blog on April 1, 2014. Prepare to poem.
  • Finally, a new interview with me just went live today over on Jessie Carty’s blog. Click here to read.


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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). He edits books like Poet’s Market and Writer’s Market, manages blogs like this one, edits a free weekly newsletter on publishing, writes a poetry column for Writer’s Digest magazine, and much more. He lives in Duluth, Georgia, with his wife Tammy, who helps him keep track of their five little poets. Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.


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38 thoughts on “Winners of the 2013 November PAD Chapbook Challenge Announced!

  1. bjzeimer

    Congratulations to all the winners including honorable mentions. I had a great time with this wonderful community of writers. Got a few poems to send out. Keep writing, Everyone!

  2. BezBawni

    I’ve missed all the action, it seems)) My heartiest congratulations to the winners. I’ve been reading the poems over and over again and I’m sure the rest of them in the Chapbooks are just as good) I’m especially happy to see two of my favorite poets ever in the list of honorable mentions)))

  3. Jane Shlensky

    What delightful news for a snowy day. Thanks so much, Robert. I’ve long been a fan of Joseph and of Taylor. So glad to see them honored. And I am again humbled to be among this slate of honorable mentions. I need to retread what I sent… Congrats to all!

  4. elishevasmom

    Hearty Congrats to all. As I read through the winners, I got a little embarassed, thinking,”I competed with those?” But at least I got a toe in the water. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. RJ Clarken

    Congratulations to the winners, honorables and all who participated! It was wonderful to see so many friends on this board carry on the proud tradition. Thanks Robert, for running this and all the many other challenges and competitions! Yay!

  6. PKP

    “Well….” she gasped, staring at her own Facebook timeline, stunned to see her name, there
    in a De Jackson post about winners and making “the list.” She didn’t even bother to try to rein in the skip of beat that her heart jumped or to tamp down her enthusiasm with admonitions that after all it “should” be just about the writing. No, she was thoroughly thrilled, and as she looked out the window into the navied night ….

    Oh, this isn’t NaNoWriMo? November is over? The PAD Challenge is over…Wait! It’s only February
    and there are winners and a list! Fantastically fast job RLB! In the inimitable words of De Jackson – mermaid and fellow poet I made the list!!! What the hey!!! Thank you Robert – I must say that I am delighted, discombulated, disoriented and thrilled! What a lovely surprise –

    I have long admired Taylor Graham’s work – the examples here are just wonderful – The poetry of Joseph Mills in the provided examples just sings … It is an honor to have my work in consideration along with such extraordinary talent ….. To my fellow honorable mentionees …
    CONGRATULATIONS Barbara, De, Jane Steve, and William.

    Ha, ha. Sorry folks just got carried away. Seems either a typographical error or I am really on “the list.”
    Thank you Robert, if it is not clear by now – this is a wonderful surprise and I am very appreciative. Congratulations to the winners and to my fellow HM’s … (and now I think the music is playing me off…)

  7. De Jackson

    OH! I’m so honored to have made this list!
    I have always, always been in awe of Taylor’s ability to tie poems together. I’m so pleased she’s taken a top spot! And I am now a big fan of Mr. Joseph Mills. What a fantastic idea, and what awesome pieces shared here.

    Barbara, Jane, Pearl, William, it is always an honor to find my name alongside yours…but here? It takes my very breath away. And Steve Brightman, I am not familiar with your work but I love your title. Yay, you, too. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    THANK YOU, Robert. This means so much to me.

    1. PKP

      Hi De – Congratulations to you! Lovely sharing this space … and even lovelier that YOU were the one to let me know that “I made the list” – haha… Just a moment ago after taking off my “other hat” I checked in with FB and there was your posting…. So thank you for passing along the lovely news.

  8. seingraham

    Congratulations to Joseph and Taylor! Just from the poems shown, it is evident that Robert’s chosen wisely again this year…And many kudos to those who made honourable mention as well…so happy to see some familiar names here but am glad to extend congrats to all…so get out the horns and streamers for: Pearl, De, William, Barbara, Jane and Steve! Well done all!

    1. PKP

      Aww thanks Sharon… I am a little giddy. If you look at my response be very happy that I am not an actress and will never have a shot at a public acceptance speech! ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. taylor graham

    Thank you, Robert! I’m truly honored!

    Congratulations to Joseph — those are wonderful poems! — and the Honorable Mentions, and to everyone who took on the November challenge. We’re all winners, just by participating.

    Now we look forward to April!

  10. Linda Goin

    Joseph and Taylor — great news for you both! Congratulations to you both and to all the honorable mentions! Happy to see De and Pearl in that lot. =) <3


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