Sunday, January 1, 2017

January 2017 Poetry Challenge

Truman Balcony, The White House, Washington D.C.
Photo by Wilda Morris

This month, President Barack Obama will end his eight-year presidency of the United States, and be replaced in the White House by Donald Trump, who seems to have a very different vision of  what actions the U. S. government should take. Several other countries have just installed new leaders or will be doing so within the next several months, so it seems like a good time for citizens of many countries to think about what they would do if they ran their government or what advice they would like to give to those in charge. Wisconsin poet Robin Chapman is one person who has given this question some thought:

If I Ran the Government: My Plan
To Rescue the Economy and Create Jobs             
I’d mandate that every child at birth
would be issued a triangle and drum,
a xylophone, maraca, and accordion;
a violin and Suzuki lessons at three,
and a piano in every living room for mom
and a sousaphone or sax for dad;
and for first grade, a recorder or flute
—which would require whole new college
departments and professors of Suzuki method
and band conducting and teachers of dance,
new factories for the making of musical
instruments and soundproofing rooms
and sound cancelling headphones,
new construction workers and architects
and engineers to build new band shells
and concert halls and dance floors
and folding chairs and barbecues,
a whole fashion industry focused on
band uniforms and tutus, flamenco dresses
and tap shoes, and orchestral commissions
for thousands of new works
—it would be a buildup second only
to our history of weaponry, fallout
a whole industry of export dulcimers
and luthiers, piano tuners and repairmen,
and dance music would ring out
on every street corner where walkers
could join in jigs and reels, clogging
and mazurkas, Cajun waltzes, solving
incidentally the obesity and loneliness
epidemics while a whole folkloric
research enterprise would spring up
recording the history and spread
of variant versions, and music camps
and festivals year round would pump
money into depressed pubs and Kansas
storefronts and New England hamlets
—and that’s just the start: add art,
and we’ll be talking global.

~ Robin Chapman

This poem was copied from with the permission of the poet, who owns the copyright to it. You can find a bio of Robin Chapman at

The January Challenge:

The January Challenge is to submit a poem about what you would do (or try to do) were you put in charge of the government of your country, state or province, city or town (or, perhaps even of the United Nations). Or you can write it as advice to your king, prime minister, president, governor or mayor. Your poem may be serious or whimsical, free verse or formal. However it must NOT be a rant against a particular person or political organization. Remember the general rule about not staying far from family-friendly language. Focus on your hopes, not your fears.

Title your poem unless it is haiku or another form that does not use titles. If you use a form, please identify the form when you submit your poem. Single-space, and don’t use lines that are overly long (because the blog format doesn’t accommodate long lines). The line length in the example poem above is the maximum. Please do not indent or center your poem on the page.

You may submit a published poem if you retain copyright, but please include publication data. This applies to poems published in books, journals, newspapers, or on the Internet.

The deadline is January 15. Poems submitted after the deadline will not be considered. There is no charge to enter, so there are no monetary rewards; however winners are published on this blog. Please don’t stray too far from “family-friendly” language. No simultaneous sub-missions, please. You should know by the end of the month whether or not your poem will be published on this blog. Decision of the judge or judges is final.

Copyright on each poem is retained by the poet. If a winning poem is published elsewhere later, please give credit to this blog.

How to Submit Your Poem:

Send one poem only to wildamorris[at]ameritech[dot]net (substitute the @ sign for “at” and a . for “dot”). Put “January Poetry Challenge Submission” in the subject line of your email. Include a brief bio which can be printed with your poem if you are a winner this month. Please put your name and bio under the poem in your email.

Submission of a poem gives permission for the poem to be posted on the blog if it is a winner, so be sure that you put your name (exactly as you would like it to appear if you do win) at the end of the poem. Poems may be pasted into an email or sent as an attachment (no pdf files, please). Please do not indent the poem or center it on the page. It helps if you submit the poem in the format used on the blog (Title and poem left-justified; title in bold (not all in capital letters); your name at the bottom of the poem). Also, please do not use spaces instead of commas in the middle of lines. I have no problem with poets using that technique (I sometimes do it myself). However I have difficulty getting the blog to accept and maintain extra spaces.

Poems shorter than 40 lines are generally preferred but longer poems will be considered.

© Wilda Morris