2015 April PAD Challenge: Guidelines

It’s time! Time for the 8th annual April PAD Challenge on the Poetic Asides blog, and I’m super excited about it. I’m happy to report that we’ll have the anthology and a new round of guest judges this year (more on both below).

First things first, this challenge is devoted to the goal of helping people write poems in a totally supportive atmosphere. Poets from around the world have participated in the past: Israel, Pakistan, India, Spain, Australia, Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, Mexico, Japan, the United States, and more. I’ve heard from poets with multiple collections who’ve used the challenge to create new work, poets who wrote their first ever poems as a result of the prompts, teachers who’ve had their classes participate, and so many others.

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. Plus, there are some extrinsic reasons to share your poems in the comments this year.

Have you heard about the guest judges? Last year, we had a guest judge for each day of the challenge, and we’re bringing that back this year. Click here to check out this year’s guest judges. They’re pretty awesome, I promise!

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 get a little carried away with troll-like behavior. 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.)

Why should I participate in the challenge?

Poem Your Heart Out, Volume 2

Poem Your Heart Out, Volume 2

I believe there’s an intrinsic reason to participate in the challenge, because it leads to new poems. That alone is enough for most poets–and really should be the main reason. That said, there’s an incredible extrinsic reason to participate as well.

Words Dance Publishing is once again partnering with the Poetic Asides blog to publish an anthology of the top poems from each day of the challenge. The wonderful Amanda Oaks is in the process of designing this year’s cover (the 2014 cover is above) and will produce an anthology that includes the prompts, winning poems, and a place for poets to include their poems.

Since the first volume totally rocked, I know this anthology is going to be something super special. The design was great; the production quality was wonderful; and the poems wowed. I expect the same for this year’s anthology.

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.

Avoid this problem by commenting on this post before April.

Have more questions? Click here to check out the official FAQs (and tips) for the April poetry challenge.


Build an Audience for Your Poetry tutorialBuild an Audience for Your Poetry!

Learn how to start building an audience for your poetry one reader at a time with the Build an Audience for Your Poetry tutorial. This 60-minute tutorial provides practical advice on how poets can incorporate platform-building tactics to improve the reach of their poetry, whether it’s getting published, connecting with fellow poets, or selling more books.

Presenter Robert Lee Brewer shares lessons learned first hand with his own poetry in addition to tips picked up over the years from other poets in his role as an editor of Poet’s Market.

Click to continue.


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…
  • We’ll also be choosing a top poem for each day’s prompt. I’ll be gathering poems by going through the comments for each day’s prompt. As a result, please make sure you include your name as you want it to appear in print.
  • Poems included in the comments will be considered for the anthology. If chosen, Words Dance Publishing only uses one-time rights for including the poem in the anthology. In other words, poets can reprint the poems elsewhere and still own the rights to their poems. Poets selected for the anthology will receive a contributor copy.
  • I cannot go in and delete or edit comments after they’re posted. It’s too much time and effort.
  • I will attempt to make selections by August 8, 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 3-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!


roberttwitterimageRobert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of Solving the World’s Problems (Press 53). In addition to this blog, he edits Poet’s Market and Writer’s Market, writes a poetry column for Writer’s Digest magazine, leads online education, and a lot of other fun stuff.

This is totally the highlight of his year, and he’s excited to get started.

Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.


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99 thoughts on “2015 April PAD Challenge: Guidelines

  1. EeLas6678

    “The Many Moods of Mother Nature”

    It’s Earth Day and Mother Nature is showing off her stuff.
    Woke up to clouds,
    The sun gave me a quick kiss,
    And then I was served Frosted Flakes- JUMBO sized!
    Strange, the temperature didn’t change with her temperament.
    The flakes continued to layer, creating a thick frosting.
    This is April, I want to enjoy flowers and plants blooming,
    Not wet snow covering all that was just about to blossom.
    Takes me back to winter’s depression.
    My stomach hurts and the brightness intensifies my headache,
    Yet I can’t stop looking out the window.
    There’s some beauty in this unpredictability.
    Go throughout my day with more appreciation,
    That is, until Mother Nature blesses me with her gift to females.
    Oh, c’mon woman!
    I become irritable, sad, and eventually reach a calm state again.
    I am not separate from her,
    I am part of her
    and her many moods.

    -Emily Lasinsky 4/21/15

  2. rgale717@gmail.com

    One day you will
    ride the rainbow swing
    to Eternity
    where your yearning
    will no longer feel
    syrupy sweet,
    like the nagging of someone
    else’s sad wife
    adrenaline compromised,
    heart sagging….no.
    When you ride it you will taste
    euphoria, pink cotton candy clouds,
    birds that not only tweet but soar
    and more…
    When you ride the rainbow swing
    into the multicolored sunset
    you will shine like
    a new penny, feel like
    you are on an ethereal
    ferris wheel and roller coaster combined,
    without the fear but with all the
    How do I know?
    I got a glimpse of it
    when I took a walk last night.
    What I saw
    was a magical
    and mysterious sunset
    that I felt with my body and soul
    and inner tree….
    you know that one growing inside
    your tummy that rustles its leaves
    and blooms when you dare to believe
    in magic, wonder, hope and love.
    It was a tree I saw on the outside
    and felt on the inside. The tree
    of life, the tree of love, the tree
    of hope, the tree of salvation.

  3. kissingtheshoreline

    “honest answers to a simple question,” Drea O.

    what they ask: where are you from?

    what i say: philippines and texas. it’s a long story.“

    what i mean: you know,
    i’ve gotten really sick of this question over time.
    i get that it’s a way to get to know people. to see if there’s a connection;
    goodness knows i ask it often enough with that goal in mind


    it gets really tiring, when people ask this of me.
    not just because i know that sometimes,
    it’s my ‘exotic’ features prompting the question
    but because i know that when you’re asking it,
    you’re not saying, “tell me about your heritage.
    share with me your past.”
    you’re saying, “pick and choose.”

    “pick and choose between blood and birthplace.
    between cultures.
    between the three countries and four cities
    you have called home in different turns.
    you must pick and choose.”

    and i must decide who i will be, today.
    american? filipina? fil-am? tck?
    the last feels too hard to explain
    the first two like a rejection
    i do my best with the third,
    but even that is a compromise.

    but, well.
    i’m sure you only expected a sentence answer to this question.
    i guess i should answer it.
    i’ve lived in three countries– philippines, america, singapore.
    one twice, one thrice, and one just once,
    but they’ve all shaped me differently. importantly.
    and neglecting one feels wrong.

    so i guess you could say i’m from those three places.
    or i guess you could say this city is home.
    so let’s just say i’m from a few places,
    and leave it at that.
    and maybe you could pass on the message to friends
    that i’d rather never have to answer this question

  4. SGKilbride


    She withers;
    She (more often than not) writes “skeletal” in at the bottom of standardized tests when they ask for her race (but, bones aren’t considered a valid shade of melanin).

    On first dates, men ask her, “What’s your favorite color?”

    She (more often than not) says, “celery,” but she means to say, “Celery, but only when it dilutes into the chlorophyll shade of pre-digested greens, steeping in toilet water” It is a satisfying shade to see (satiety isn’t the same as satisfaction though).

    On birthdays, mothers beg her, “Won’t you have some cake, please? You could blow away with the candle’s wishes if you don’t put some meat on those bones.”

    She (more often than not) says, “no, thank you,” but she means to say, “I’m nineteen and still afraid of calories and carbohydrates, twenty and still afraid of waist lines and A&F jean buttons, and the most profound thing about me and my fellow twenty-first century young women is our capability of fearing everything except dying.”

    On Sundays, priests ask her, “Who is the one, Holy God?”

    She (more often than not) says, “Celery, of course.”

    S.G. Kilbride

  5. viya

    When I was going through a rough phase
    When there was no one to embrace
    Crying for my loneliness in my solitude
     Not in a state to show  fortitude
    ……..He was there for me.

    Though I was the one who betrayed
    The love he gave me I slayed
     My words cut his  heart into slices
    Even  when I was stuck in crisis
     ……..He was there for me.

    When I was  struggling with my life
     When there was no love but strife
    Only my shadow disturbed my solitariness
    surrounded by nothing but hopelessness
    …………He was there for me

    Though I was the one who broke his heart
    My extreme hatred tore him apart
    I was the reason  why  he cried
    Even  when I felt I almost  died
    ……He was there for me

    When I was finding way through this maze
    When my mind  was in a  haze
    Not a single soul was ready to assist
    Anguish I felt was not easy to resist
    …….He was there for me

    Though I was the one who left him alone
    My demeanor made him so lone
     Void that was created hurt his existence
    Even when I never  wanted his presence
    …………He was there for me

  6. coffinjohnny

    I hope this might be the place to post my poetic effort? Please let me know if this does not work.
    For those of you who do not like dark poetry, well, I’m sorry, but I love it. so here goes everything!

    The night coalesced

    around his foul heart

    Checking his bag for the tools of his art

    The glint of sweet, sharp steel, tiny, and thin
    A doctor’s scalpel, check, check,
    as more than one he will need – – for a finer cut – – the less the patient to bleed
    Ah, but still more to find in his bag of ill tricks
    the Trocar, the Rasp, the Specula in his eyes they do glint.

    He vies his saturnine trade on this evil night
    that no Deity has made

    Lusus Naturae
    the Doctor’s prepared for the patients he seeks in the alleys, the back lots,
    and skid row, where he creeps
    He seeks those none care for
    whom none will soon miss,
    or those who we say good riddance death must be better than a life they lead like this
    But take heed of the warnings don’t be out in the dark hours of the morning
    where the good doctor with his tools may find you alone in some drunken bliss
    Did you make a left
    when you should have gone right
    the good path did you miss
    Ahead the light of a lamp post gleams sanctuary
    But from behind come foot falls be weary
    A glint of sweet steel then crimson and pain
    You fall to the ground life’s over a pawn in his game

  7. Jamillah Muhaymin

    A writer Inspired

    When I awake in the morning before dawn,
    my hand twitches for that blank page to be filled with words
    of thought-provoking imagination.

    My pen is eager to ride that tightrope,
    swinging and wavering to the end.
    Come to my hand Oh beautiful words,
    bright words that are up and meeting the dawn!

    Words that were luminous even in the dark,
    but now are up and seeking a new frontier.

    Writing is architectural, not adorned or embellished.
    We build the foundation and place the words, just write.
    Our imaginations form things into shape
    and give our readers stories of effortless labor.

    Docile words, smooth words, tender words like
    downy-feathered birds flowing from the ink.

    But in the end, a writer’s piece is a friend;
    it writes, it reads, it speaks beautiful words
    for our readers to cross over from the beginning to the richer end.

    Jamillah Muhaymin

  8. ckondo


    If I stand still a moment
    And listen –
    When I hum-m-m –
    My heart reverberates.
    I can hear great symphonies
    Of corpuscles and capillaries,
    Like tympani and base strings,
    Woodwinds and violins.
    Harmonium of smooth blood flowing.
    When I hum-m-m –
    My heart reverberates
    If I stand still a moment –
    And listen.

  9. Lawrence


    roars Rock Sergeant Gunny,
    with four men midstream
    at Dong Ha
    ‘neath rice cool moon and rain
    in a starburst circle
    M-16s blazing out at blunt
    omnidirectional shadows
    in the darkdank brake of jungle—each
    midstream while fording ooze of river, and the
    muddy meal of earth.
    Each step of boot a sloshing push
    of forward inching in rough, uneven cadence
    through knee-high waters—
    and God! it’s a muskrat summerhot
    with mute crack of twig but
    two small clicks to left—
    with us like *walking-wounded*
    stalking silent shadows
    through ford of river,
    sluicing loud and rushedly
    all around us …
    with one fallen comrade
    slung heavily over
    Gunny’s big shoulder
    and the rest in sharp and armored guarding,
    remembering always our creed and calling-card,
    to leave
    no man
    behind …

  10. Ashwinis

    My secret is a secret until it comes out
    But is here to stay and closed in
    Like a bottle with cap and a box unopened
    You keep and you rest
    Until it gets you restless
    A time to recover or a time to restore
    The morbid hate or a catysclasmic moan
    To be or to be
    Is the question at hand?
    Mindless and timeless
    Grief-stricken unparalleled fear
    Courage to tell and strength acquire
    A battered women or more there

  11. Patorsuzie

    Waiting by Suzie Downing

    I know You are here…
    You whisper to me in the morning dew
    In the call of the meadow lark
    In the wind’s soft kiss on my cheek
    And the spider in his freshly spun web.

    I hear You!
    I hear Your gentle nudge
    I feel Your loving touch
    Come back to Me little one
    Come back to My rest and find peace.

    Can I do this?
    Can I take this step of faith?
    Trust You and let go of myself?
    Trust You and follow Your plea?

    First one step, then two…
    It’s not so hard!
    Why have I resisted?
    Help and rest have been here all along.

  12. kimberleetm

    Between Two

    Never shall I tell;
    your secret’s safe with me.
    Speak as you will
    without limits, yes, be free.
    Long shall I hold
    tongue and temper each.
    Oh, never like before
    shall any whisper reach
    those you deride
    while I my counsel keep.
    Please, spill it all;
    I swear it will not leak.
    Only one of us
    can be called indiscreet.

    Kimberlee Thompson

  13. vidalolmos

    Our code

    I dreamed of birds read
    the telegram you sent me
    a month after we made our pact
    sitting beneath the oak tree
    we called our own
    that summer of sea salt and strawberries
    when the two of us met—
    you barely seventeen,
    freckled, lathered in sunscreen,
    wearing a smile of mischief,
    me still sixteen but swearing
    I was about to turn eighteen.

    Ten months went by before
    I answered with my first.
    (I don’t remember what it was.)
    Tajiroshima: cats outnumber people,
    your second telegram affirmed.
    I laughed and waited,
    and when it was my turn
    I broke one of the rules: I lied.

    You kept on playing
    though you must have known.

    I’m so distracted an old lady
    helped me cross the street.

    Another day not waking up
    in New York City.

    Contemporary art is funny.

    I sent myself a letter.

    I dreamed of birds.

  14. Malen

    Angst Against

    Objection without reflection
    Becoming a weapon.
    Expressions contend
    Progression within —

    Pushing up fists
    Thrust towards watchful eyes,
    Internally disguised.
    Peace out of reach
    From you and I.

    Marching in hope.
    Dreaming they’ll see.
    Without resistance,
    Who are we?

  15. RachelMHolley

    Hope I’m not too late for the poem a day challenge. . .not sure I’m posting this correctly, but I used the idea of resistance and tried to write the haiku, though the syllable count is slightly off…

    Therapy by Rachel Holley

    You ask what only few can know
    I craft for you tall tales
    And silently dare your disbelief.

    1. susiejoyk128

      Rachel I love this!
      Three small lines but it tells of a life story.
      So powerful, but as I read I realised it was me sitting in your “Therapy” chair.

  16. njrobin

    I love a good dilemma
    like the kind where you love him
    and he loves beer
    or pot
    or maybe his ex wife
    or the kind where you really want to have sex with him and he can’t get it up
    it keeps me fit
    makes me want to run
    or ride my bike really fast
    or swim a mile
    maintains that tension we all crave in life
    I like that rock
    and that hard place
    stuck in the middle
    should I stay or should I go
    and wanting to push the eject button
    being squeezed like the hugest zit
    then wham it hits the mirror

  17. nursegail

    Gifts of Age
    There was an old woman who lived in a house
    No longer did she entertain a young spouse.
    Troubles followed her everywhere,
    To the point she could no longer bare.

    So in her dreams she like to stay
    Remembering days before she was grey
    Days that held so many young dreams
    Where each day as a new adventure it seems

    New friends and lover each day she recalls
    Where men gave attention and women their awe
    Her skin was like peaches and cream they would say
    Her hair was golden like the fields in May.

    She laughed and loved and traveled about
    Enjoyed er life without much doubt
    Storing memories away for those golden years,
    Where she would recall those times with happy tears

    1. Jamillah Muhaymin

      Hi nursegail,
      I love your soft description of aging. Today’s seniors are much younger looking and feeling and it’s nice to know that the young recognizes this.

  18. infliximox

    Hey, I was wondering if we’re allowed to post our poetry other places too or if that sort of disqualifies us from the challenge/anthology? I like to post my poetry to my wordpress blog, and I’d like to be able to share my poetry there as well (having put effort into it!) Thanks! 😀
    Excited for what prompts the rest of the month will bring.


  19. DJStrz

    Can’t wait! This reminds me of an assignment I had as an undergrad, when I had to write a poem a day for 15 days. Looking forward to the challenge!


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