Saturday, July 1, 2017

July, 2017 Poetry Challenge - Take a Word

Tom Roby IV, President of The Poets' Club of Chicago, author of three books of poetry, and creator of the Poetry Wheel, provided an example poem for the July Poetry Challenge—a whole poem based on the word “stand.” He explores the ways in which that one word is used in this list poem.

Stand Up!

Stand fast. Stand trial. Don’t
stand on the sidelines. Take
the witness stand. Understand
the dangers of standing under
a ladder with a standard poodle.

Stand your ground. Deliver to a
hot dog stand. Be a stand-up guy,
gal, comedian. Stand by your man,
woman, me. Stand up for Jesus,
Moses, Buddha, Lao Tzu.

Be the standout standard bearer. Try
for a standing start on standard time.
Wear the standard issue. Endure
a standing wave. Become the last one
standing. Make your last stand. 

Don’t be standoffish. Adjust your
stance for a standstill standoff. Improve
your standing with standing committees.
Be sure of what you stand for.
Don’t stand back. Snap back with

Stanback. Beware of standard
deviations. Leave a stand-alone
standing order with Standard Market.
Send a stanzaic ad. Stand pat.
Don’t become standardized.

Stand clear of the standing joke
about standing bail for the stand-in
on standby. Set higher standards.
Grandstand a standing ovation.
Stand up. Stand down. 
Stand down!

~ Tom Roby IV    

The author of this poem owns the copyright on it.

Roby wrote “Stand Up!” as a series of imperatives. The reader is told, among many other things, to stand his or her own ground, and is encouraged to be "the last one standing.” We are barraged with orders, so the final, repeated order to relax a bit ("Stand down!") comes as a relief.

Other poets have played similar games with words. You can read Dana Gioia’s poem, “Money,” from his book, The Gods of Winter (Graywolf Press, 1991); it is available on his website at You might also want to check out James Richardson’s poem, “Subject, Object, Verb,” which plays on the word “I,” if you have access to The New Yorker for December 3, 2007. Or look for Diane Lockward’s poem, “Heart on the Unemployment Line,” in her book, What Feeds Us (Wind Publications, 2006). You can find the first part of this clever poem in a review of the book at

The July Challenge:

The July Challenge is to submit a poem based on one word, a poem which, in some way, explores the breadth of its meanings or usage. Take a word, any word . . . .

Title your poem unless it is a 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). Please do not indent or center your poem on the page, put it in a box or against a special (even white) background.

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 July 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 submissions, 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 previously unpublished poem wins and 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 “July 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 multiple 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