Skip to main content

2015 April PAD Challenge: Results

[Update (2/10): I apologize for the extended delay on the results, but it is what it is. We're finally there! Now that we have all the winners, the wheels are turning on the anthology. More details on that soon.]

While my preference is to unload all the results at once, I also don't want to make folks wait any longer in hearing anything at all. So, I plan to do what I did last year, which is to release the winner and Top 10 list for each day as I receive them from the guest judges.

The delay has been entirely on my end. I won't go into details, but I had a lot of unexpected surprises this spring and summer (some good, some not-so) that squeezed my time. My screening readers have been amazing, as have been my guest judges (click here to view them all).


Poet's Market 2016

Poet's Market 2016

Be the First to Get a Copy!

The 2016 Poet’s Market, edited by Robert Lee Brewer, includes hundreds of poetry markets, including listings for poetry publications, publishers, contests, and more! With names, contact information, and submission tips, poets can find the right markets for their poetry and achieve more publication success than ever before.

Pre-order your copy today!

In addition to the listings, there are articles on the craft, business, and promotion of poetry–so that poets can learn the ins and outs of writing poetry and seeking publication. Plus, it includes a one-year subscription to the poetry-related information on All in all, it’s the best resource for poets looking to secure publication.

Click to continue.


The winner is highlighted; the top 10 is in no particular order; an asterisk (*) denotes a poem that “almost” won. If you notice any errors (including your byline), please send me an e-mail at to get it corrected as soon as possible.

I did not request or require that the guest judges do anything beyond picking a winning poem. However, when a guest judge shared some helpful remarks, I've included below that day's Top 10 list.

Day 1:
Prompt: Resistance Poem
Guest Judge: Matthea Harvey

“Return to Chaos,” by Scott Jacobson
“Resist,” by Jo Ann Anglin
“Resistance,” by Beth Browne
“Resistance Is Futile,” by Vince Gotera
“Daisy Checks Facebook,” by Nancy Posey
“Resistors,” by Amy Miller
"Notes for a Memoir,” by susanjer
“Fighter,” by Tanaka Mhishi
“As the moon moves the sea,” by Michelle Murrish
“Winter Fight,” by Kerry Trautman

Day 2:
Prompt: Secret Poem
Guest Judge: Afaa Michael Weaver

“Password Combinations,” by Scott Jacobson
“History,” by Amy Miller
“Breathing Secrets,” by Margie Fuston
“Going Back to Bed,” by Marilyn Cavicchia
“I like secret pockets,” by Liz Shine
“What I Won't Tell Myself,” by SFagan12
"Roadside Shrine on Highway 290,” by m_deane
“Secreted,” by Jane Shlensky
“The Stars Obliterated,” by Bruce Niedt
“Copperhead,” by Beth Browne

Day 3:
Prompt: Machine Poem
Guest Judge: Martha Silano

“You touched me as if I were a machine,” by Jassmin Rodriguez
“The Mechatronic Bird Falls in Love with the Real and Vice Versa,” by Shaindel Beers
“Refurbished,” by Scott Jacobson
“Creation Revisited,” by Margie Fuston
“I Sing the Body,” by De Jackson
“Automatons of Love,” by Marilyn Cavicchia
"Crepe de MaChine,” by RJ Clarken
“A Pretty Penny Is a Smashed Penny,” by Cati Porter
“To the Drone All Objects Are Beautiful,” by Amy Miller
“Rube Goldberg in Heaven,” by Joseph Harker*

Day 4:
Prompt: Departure Poem
Guest Judge: Taylor Mali

“Out of Gas,” by Kimiko Martinez
“Striking out on my own,” by J. Lynn Sheridan
“Noctuary,” by Kelly Morse
“To Nowhere,” by Scott Jacobson
“When you checked out,” by Kendall A. Bell
“Sondie,” by Essie Rose
"Runaway,” by Emma Tranter
“Sunset Over,” by Janet Rice Carnahan
“departure,” by Angie Werren
“Lost Ripples of Float,” by Misky Braendeholm

Day 5:
Prompt: Vegetable Poem
Guest Judge: Denise Low

“Artichoke,” by Nurit Israeli
“Heirlooms,” by Megan Mills
“The Man Peeling Yams on Easter Morning,” by Bruce Niedt
“Pea Picking,” by Jane Shlensky
“Sex in the Time of Sweet Corn,” by Jane Shlensky
“June Garden,” by Marcia Jaron Morley
"Linguistics,” by Shaindel Beers
“I still choke on beets,” by Lara Eckener
“A couch potato's last days,” by Kendall A. Bell
“Paring,” by De Jackson

Comments from Low: I love "Heirlooms" for its focus on description, compression, artful choice of the ordinary--all leading up to the final drama of mortality. Others have some lovely language, but this one, to me, most successfully combines form and content.

Day 6:
Prompt: Things Not as They Appear Poem
Guest Judge: Molly Peacock

“wilma suddenly,” by Angie Werren
“Running Shoes,” by Hyork
“Mata Hari Sees Herself,” by Fae Spurrier
“on drowning,” by kattra
“Appearances,” by Ashley Marie Egan
“Transform,” by Kay Winter
"a stone on the shore,” by C.B. Wentworth
“The Cowbird's Egg,” by C. Cleo Creech
“Omens,” by Mike Jewett
“White on Blue,” by Margot Suydam

Comments from Peacock: "Mata Hari Sees Herself" is my top pick! With every line--no, every half line--the poem turns, and turns again, shifting scenes and points of view four times, all in a mere 49 words. The poet puts the subject in the title, then never mentions Mata Hari's name again, like Wallace Stevens "Invective Against Swans," a poem that never uses the word "swans." From the first line, "Mara Hari Sees Herself" veers from the perceptions of the spy life (the dancers as liars) to the situation on the train in winter, then spins out to ask two questions, shifting perspectives to set the senses whirling. The poem widens out to pose those crucial questions in quirky rhythms and visceral vocabulary. There's a genuine personality evoked with "If the wars want to eat us why not bite them back?" Then that bleak bravado turns inward with the wistful, romantic self-examination of the final five lines. I picked it because it was memorable and more than fulfilled the challenge "Things Not As They Appear."

Day 7:
Prompt: Love and/or Anti-Love Poem
Guest Judge: David Kirby

“The Anti-Love Poem,” by Jennifer Peach
“A Simple Translation of 'I Love You,'” by JUST_jerusha
“the answer is in the ashes,” by kattra
“Symbiosis,” by Fae Spurrier
“on love,” by Brie Huling
“He Was Twelve Things I Can't Live Without,” by Linda G Hatton
"you might as well be the sun king,” by claudia marie clemente
“Anti-,” by Amy Miller
“New Design For Artificial Heart Shows Promise,” by Brian Slusher
“Love Poem,” by Kim King

Day 8:
Prompt: Dare Poem
Guest Judge: Denise Duhamel

“Your double dog dare,” by Sarah Metzler
“Eggnog in April,” by Marilyn Cavicchia
“When we were knife throwers...,” by Shaindel Beers
“Report of the Tomb's Excavator,” by Amy Miller
“Washing the Bones,” by JoAnn Anglin
“Night Fallings,” by De Jackson
"The Kiss,” by Maria Bouka
“Dare,” by Donald Illich
“early work,” by Barton Smock
“Invocation,” by Pedro Poitevin

Day 9:
Prompt: Work Poem
Guest Judge: Alison Stine

“Self-Portrait as Rosin Back Rider,” by Shaindel Beers
“Dirty Work,” by susanjer
“Bone Idle,” by Nancy Susanna Breen
“Field Work,” by James Von Hendy
“Wash Day,” by Jannelee
“Work,” by A.R. Amore
"The Books My Freshmen Read,” by Kellie B. Moore
“Monet's Water Lily Pool,” by Hannah Gosselin
“Collection,” by JoAnn Anglin
“Sanderlings,” by William Preston

Comments from Stine: In just a few, tight lines, "Collection" manages to convey story, sadness, but most of all: empathy.

Day 10:
Prompt: "How (blank)" Poem
Guest Judge: Ruben Quesada

“How to Be Delicate,” by pamelaraw
“How to Break Yourself,” by Scott Jacobson
“How to Add One and One and Get the Sum You Want,” by susanjer
“How to Walk to Hell,” by Maria Padhila
“How we kill our teens,” by Kendall A. Bell
“how the sausage is made,” by Amy Miller
"How in the garden of the community,” by uneven steven
“How the Fishing Eagle Died,” by Tanaka Mhishi
“How to Write a Poem in Ten Minutes,” by Donald Illich
"How to Speak to the Dead,” by Pamela Murray Winters

Day 11:
Prompt: Seasonal Poem
Guest Judge: Michael Dylan Welch

“August,” by Julie Germain
“Gold leaf,” by Amy Cygan
“Guide to the Revised Seasons,” by Brian Slusher
“Le Quattro Stagioni,” by Walt Wojtanik
“Night Snow,” by Maria Grace*
“You are like the leaves,” by Nick Butterfield
"Up to the minute weather, many months later,” by Daniel Ari
“Monsoon wind,” by C.B. Wentworth
“solstice,” by De Jackson*
“Solitude,” by SFagan12

Day 12:
Prompt: Damage Poem
Guest Judge: Kim Addonizio

“Dark Night Fire,” by Lelawattee Manoo-Rahming
“Teeth,” by Martina Dansereau
“thirteen.-earthquake, heartbreak.,” by kattra
“The Shape of Blood,” by Mike Jewett
“Damage Control,” by Mary Ann Scott
“Waiting,” by Scott Jacobson
"The Seamstress and Her Tailor,” by Linda G Hatton
“Damaged Goods,” by Stephanie Miller
“Sutures,” by De Jackson
“Vignette,” by Shauna Osborn

Day 13:
Prompt: Confession Poem
Guest Judge: Terri Kirby Erickson

“Confessions From Within the Whirlwind of Mental Illness,” by Martina Dansereau
“Monarch,” by Mike Jewett
“In Confessional,” by jessica therese
“I regret to confess,” by Ariana Kramer
“Confession,” by carolecole66
“Four Ways to Make a Confession,” by Jennifer Weber
"Loss,” by James Von Hendy
“stomachache,” by Susan Burch
“Behind the Veil,” by pomodoro
“Remnants,” by Shauna Osborn

Day 14:
Prompt: Honest and/or Dishonest Poem
Guest Judge: Annie Finch

“Is Meter Dishonest?,” by Amy Appleton
“Commitment,” by Khara House
“Fool,” by Julie Germain
“Romantic Interlude,” by Lorraine Caramanna
“Woo and Woe,” by Jane Shlensky
“I tell the truth,” by Irma H
"Storm, Remembered,” by Fae Spurrier
“Moonrise Over Jefferson,” by Alemonlot
“Honesty,” by jarmandoguzman
“A lie can gain so many things,” by Muther Bear

Day 15:
Prompt: Make Adjective Title of Poem
Guest Judge: Alberto Rios

“Sweltering,” by jonesy 1260
“Sticky,” by Jane Shlensky
“Fragrant,” by Kim King
“Dark Darker Darkest,” by pamelaraw
“egglike,” by Amy Miller
“Windy,” by C.B. Wentworth
"Bent,” by Marilyn Cavicchia
“Spangled,” by De Jackson
“Juliet, Enamored,” by Nancy Posey
“Generous,” by Joseph Harker

Day 16:
Prompt: Science Poem
Guest Judge: Cecilia Woloch

“Implode,” by James Von Hendy
“Scientific Method,” by Jane Shlensky
“Invention,” by Scott Jacobson
“the faults in newton's laws,” by Jennifer Peach
“My neighbor was once a botanist,” by ChandraEADickson
“pushed by the moon,” by C.B. Wentworth
"The Science of Stars,” by De Jackson
“Clip off a petal with one white-gloved hand,” by Hibah Shabkhez
“Conceptions of Infinity,” by Joseph Harker
“Degrees,” by Raina Masters

Day 17:
Prompt: Swing Poem
Guest Judge: Todd Boss

“Hello, Goodbye,” by Khara House
“On Dying,” by Linda Hofke
“One Morning,” by Jane Shlensky
“Elegy for a Child,” by C. Lynn Shaffer
“Storm Watch,” by Penelope Connor
“Artifacts of a Make-Believe Ghost,” by Cameron Steele
"And again-lingering,” by J. Lynn Sheridan
“Birds-Wings,” by Taylor Graham
“Ing-a-land Swings,” by Walt Wojtanik
“Unwilling Swing,” by Kimmy Sophia

Day 18:
Prompt: Pick 2 Vowels & Write a Poem (with only those)
Guest Judge: Christian Bok

“Dawn: A Hawk, A Train, A Snail,” by seingraham
“O&E,” by Lelawattee Manoo-Rahming
“Wren,” by Michelle Hed
“to love the poem,” by De Jackson
“Keeping Bees,” by Caritha Marks
“Cavort,” by Vicky Nall
"English Grimmer,” by William Preston
“The 'Fly Effect,” by Tatsuro Nakajima
“two woes for wolf's blood,” by barton smock
“Fish-wishing,” by Marian O'Brien Paul

Day 19:
Prompt: Authority Poem
Guest Judge: Dorianne Laux

“At Least,” by Julie Germain
“Power Plant - Tempe,” by Diane Laboda*
“God Tries His Hand at Poetry,” by C. Lynn Shaffer
“Anatomy of a Whisper,” by Cameron Steele
“Four Landay,” by Bruce Niedt
“War in the Mideast,” by susanjer
"Curse for the Givers of Unsolicited Advice,” by James Von Hendy
“Small Potatoes,” by Sarah Metzler
“Who May Bless Me,” by Barbara E. Young*
“Dearest Calliope,” by De Jackson

Day 20:
Prompt: "My (blank), the (blank)" Poem
Guest Judge: Megan Volpert

“My feet, the shoals,” by Khara House
“My Stars, the Dazzle,” by Jane Shlensky
“My Father, the voice,” by Kaulmer
“My Grandson, the Philosopher,” by drnurit
“My Heart, the Traitor,” by toujourskari
“My soul, the empty sound of foggy woods,” by amoretony
"My Tether, The Haunting,” by anindeliblemark
“My life, the empty stage,” by storysmith
“Mykonos, Thera, Delphi,” by Joseph Harker
“my sister, the stick,” by barton smock

Comments from Volpert: Many of the poems submitted were short, vague toss-offs that seemed to focus more on doing thirty days of writing than crafting one solid poem. But this poem was indeed solid--and specific and lovely. It manages to marry popular culture to ancient Greece, the low with the high, the hilarious and the serious. It has a freshness but also a familiarity, and an amusingly queer take on Odysseus. And it accomplished all this without rhyming. This poet gave me a good deal about which to think, as well as a fair amount to admire.

Day 21:
Prompt: What You Are and/or What You Are Not Poem
Guest Judge: J.P. Dancing Bear

“you, flower,” by Jennifer Peach
“If I Am Anything,” by Barb Peters
“Caretaker's Song,” by Amy Miller
“I Am (or Not),” by carolecole66
“Lute,” by James Von Hendy
“The Inconstant Wellspring,” by Joseph Hesch
"I am the cloudbank,” by Vivian Wagner
“input,” by barton smock
“Because the arrival of your ghost is still pending,” by De Jackson
“Beauty Was the Case They Gave Me,” by Donald Illich

Day 22:
Prompt: Nature Poem
Guest Judge: Justin Marks

“the nature of wind,” by C.B. Wentworth
“Sea of Trees,” by Maria Padhila
“Water Like Steel: Libya, April 2015,” by Cathy Dee
“The Old Man,” by Sara Ramsdell
“He Pierces the Morning With Fresh Urgency,” by Marilyn Cavicchia
“Annotation for Earth Day,” by susanjer
"Great Blue Heron,” by carolemt87
“Marbles,” by Michelle Hed
“distant nature,” by barton smock
“cherry trees in bloom,” by Bruce Niedt

Day 23:
Prompt: Historic Poem
Guest Judge: Kathryn Stripling Byer

“Rome, With or Without Me,” by Julie Germain
“25,000 Mental Institutions Close,” by Diane Laboda
“Great Tenmei Famine, 1782-1788,” by Maria Padhila
“When I was seven he shot the dog,” by Lara Eckener
“history repeats,” by Amy Glamos
“Manassas, Virginia,” by Lyn Sedwick
"History,” by Elizabeth
“Land Run, Oklahoma 1889,” by Anthony94
“Mr. Jackson's American History,” by Nancy Posey
“July 7, 1928--Chillicothe, Missouri,” by Linda Voit

Day 24:
Prompt: Moment Poem
Guest Judge: Matt Rasmussen

“Black Rabbit,” by Brian Slusher
“The Names of Things,” by Amy Miller
“It was the day that everything got destroyed,” by antelope
“Refugee,” by mcumber
“Wait for the Common Sense of the Morning,” by JR Simmang
“The Scene,” by Marilyn Cavicchia
"Deraa,” by fayina
“That Moment,” by Sibella
“Waiting,” by anindeliblemark
“Drive-Thru,” by torigw

Day 25:
Prompt: Across the Sea Poem
Guest Judge: Todd Swift

“A Ship to Sail,” by JR Simmang
“what the water taught me,” by Jennifer Peach
“Across the sea,” by lynne james fraser
“Small-Town Girl Laments While Watching The Time Machine,” by C. Lynn Shaffer
“Afloat,” by Jane Shlensky
“Boundaries,” by James Von Hendy
"Pink Sheer Curtains,” by Kelli Simpson
“Bliss Is Your Mother's Terrain,” by Barton Smock
“My Love's Been Drown'd,” by pipersfancy
“I, Sea,” by Marie Elena

Day 26:
Prompt: Words Coined by Shakespeare Poem
Guest Judge: Helene Cardona

“Dawn to Dishearten,” by Scott Jacobson
“Savagery,” by blacksnark
“Addiction,” by simplymarian
“invulnerably flawed,” by gpr crane
“Birthplace,” by Kendall A. Bell
“Her Infinite Variety,” by Sara Diane Doyle
"A Flawed and Tortured Sonnet,” by Marie Elena
“The Well-Behaved, Well-Bred, Well-Educated, Well-Read Watchdog,” by G. Smith
“Eyeballs,” by De Jackson
“From Day to Day, This Petty Pace,” by S. Thomas Summers

Day 27:
Prompt: Looking Back Poem
Guest Judge: Okla Elliott

“Desert Sunset,” by akramer
“Pillar of Salt,” by Nancy Posey
“don't look back,” by Jennifer Peach
“Wait for Me,” by Sara McNulty
“a series of Hay(na)ku,” by Elle Segarra
“Wanderlust,” by anindeliblemark
"Dorothy Gale at the Old People's Home,” by susanjer
“Cool and Hot at 17,” by Nancy Young
“By the time the story was handed down,” by Lara Eckener
“roses unfurl,” by Michelle Hed

Day 28:
Prompt: Matter and/or Anti-Matter Poem
Guest Judge: Eduardo C. Corral

“Not all that glisters,” by Khara House
“Thinking About Science While My Daughter Lies in my Lap, Asleep,” by C. Lynn Shaffer
“somatic matters,” by stephamm
“Oldsmobile 88, 1968,” by James Von Hendy
“What Makes All the Difference,” by Nurit Israeli
“Karakuri,” by MariaPadhila
"Dark Matter,” by Kendall A. Bell
“Baltimore,” by Joseph Harker
“Outside the Waldo Station,” by Anthony94
“Music Matters,” by Nancy Posey

Day 29:
Prompt: What Nobody Knows Poem
Guest Judge: Marge Piercy

“Nothing's Ever Done,” by Jane Shlensky
“Inside a Black Hole,” by Scott Jacobson
“Nobody Knows,” by sdwells
“That Poor Woman,” by Nancy Susanna Breen
“Things my mother didn't know,” by Kendall A. Bell
“Little did I know,” by Marie Elena Good*
"the myth of soft rape,” by barton smock
“Retrospective,” by Anthony94
“Leaving Early,” by James Von Hendy
“The Long Drive,” by William Preston

Day 30:
Prompt: "Bury the (blank)" Poem
Guest Judge: Jessie Carty

“Bury the Rain,” by Julie Germain
“Bury the Photograph,” by Scott Jacobson
“Bury the Dishes,” by torigw
“Bury the Breakage,” by Jane Shlensky
“Bury the Past,” by carolecole66*
“Bury the tongue,” by Khara House
"Bury the Emptiness,” by Linda G Hatton
“bury the fall,” by C.B. Wentworth*
“Bury the Fish Heads,” by C. Lynn Shaffer
“Bury the Days,” by Joseph Harker


Congratulations to all the winners! And congratulations to everyone in the Top 10 lists!

We actually had more participation this year than in 2014 with nearly 27,000 comments when the poems were pulled for each day, which comes out to an average of nearly 900 comments per day with the highest being Day 2 (1,374 comments) and lowest being Day 16 (701 comments). In other words, it's quite an accomplishment to make any day's Top 10 list.

This year, I had some screening readers who helped narrow down the poems on many of the days for me. I'd like to thank Faith Owen, Linda Hofke, Barton Smock, Veronica Noechel, James Von Hendy, Joanne Clarkson, Bruce Niedt, Sara Diane Doyle, Vivian Wagner, Daniel Ari, Linda Hatton, Joseph Harker, Jerusha Rodgers, Nurit Israeli, Barb Peters, Nancy Posey, Kimberly Gladman Jackson, Amy Miller, Ina Roy-Faderman, Jane Shlensky, and Deborah Hauser. Thank you so much!

If it weren't for you, these results would be even further delayed. By the way, if you haven't already, check out Daniel Ari's article on reading poems for the challenge here. It's very insightful, and I know I've grown a lot from the process of reading the poems written by others.

I will continue adding winners and Top 10 lists as they filter in to me. Also, I'm still figuring out Poet Laureate and top poet nods, but I will make a note about those in future updates as well.


Poem Your Heart Out, Volume 2

Poem Your Heart Out, Volume 2

Poem Your Heart Out again!

The prompts from last year’s challenge along with the winning poem from each day ended up in an inspired little anthology titled Poem Your Heart Out. It was part prompt book, part poetry anthology, and part workbook, because each day includes a few pages for you to make your own contributions.

Anyway, the anthology worked out so well that we’re doing it again this year. Get a copy for yourself, share a copy with friends and family. Use it to find inspiration and make your bookshelves a little more poetic.

Click to continue.


Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of Solving the World’s Problems.

Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.


More poetic posts here:

Jeff Adams | Writer's Digest Indie Author Spotlight

Jeff Adams: Publishing Advice for Indie Authors

In this Indie Author Profile, romance novelist Jeff Adams shares his path to independent publishing and his advice for others considering that path.

Silvia Moreno-Garcia | Writer's Digest July/Aug 2022

The WD Interview: Silvia Moreno-Garcia

The bestselling author of Mexican Gothic shares her approach to world-building, character development, and what she’s learned about the business of writing in this interview from the July/August 2022 issue of Writer's Digest.

9 Pros and Cons of Writing a Newsletter

9 Pros and Cons of Writing a Newsletter

Thinking of starting your own newsletter? Let freelance writer Sian Meades-Williams lay out 9 pros and cons of writing a newsletter.

How to Write a Compelling Premise for a Thriller

How to Create a Compelling Premise for a Thriller

Learn how to create a compelling premise for a thriller or mystery novel by asking a simple question and tying it to a specific circumstance to set the stage for a thrilling read.

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Make a Plan

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Make a Plan

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, have your characters make a plan.

3 Tips for Writing Dystopian Young Adult Fiction

3 Tips for Writing Dystopian Young Adult Fiction

If you've ever heard it said that there's no new way to write a story, let author Julian R. Vaca tell you otherwise. Here, he shares 3 tips for writing dystopian young adult fiction to help silence our inner critics.

Rimma Onoseta: On Trusting the Process of Revision

Rimma Onoseta: On Trusting the Process of Revision

Author Rimma Onoseta discusses how seeing other Black female authors on bookshelves encouraged her to finish writing her contemporary YA novel, How You Grow Wings.

Writer's Digest September/October 2022 Cover

Writer's Digest September/October 2022 Cover Reveal

Writer's Digest is excited to announce our Sept/Oct 2022 issue featuring our Annual Literary Agent Roundup, an interview with NYT-bestselling YA horror novelist Tiffany D. Jackson, and articles about writing sinister stories.

Your Story #120

Your Story #120

Write the opening line to a story based on the photo prompt below. (One sentence only.) You can be poignant, funny, witty, etc.; it is, after all, your story.