2014 April PAD Challenge: Guidelines

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Well, this year will be the 7th annual April PAD Challenge on the Poetic Asides blog, and I've never been more excited about it. This year we will make something happen that I've wanted for a long time, but I had to wait for the right conditions: More on that 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?Click here to view all 30 of them.

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.)

Why should I participate in the challenge?

Poem Your Heart Out

Poem Your Heart Out

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 this year. In fact, I've been dreaming of offering this for years now, but the conditions were never right--until now!

Words Dance Publishing is partnering with the Poetic Asides blog this year to publish an anthology of the top poems from each day of the challenge. The wonderful Amanda Oaks has already designed a cover (on the right) and will produce an anthology that includes the prompts, winning poems, and a place for poets to include their poems.

Since I'm familiar with previous books put out by Words Dance, I know this anthology is going to be something super special. Some recent examples of books published by them include the Literary Sexts anthology;What to Do After She Says No, by Kris Ryan; and No Glass Allowed, by the lovely Tammy Foster Brewer.

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.

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Workshop your poetry!

In the Advanced Poetry Writing workshop, poets will write and receive feedback on 6 poems during the 6-week course. Instructor Cherri Randall will share revision techniques that will help leading into National Poetry Month. Click to continue.

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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 4-year-old son.

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!

Robert Lee Brewer

Robert Lee Brewer

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Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer's Digest Writing Community and author of Solving the World's Problems. In addition to the April PAD Challenge, he's excited about his free Remixing the World's Problems challenge that has a $500 top prize. Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.

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