Wednesday, January 27, 2016

January Challenge Has Been Reopened

There were not enough entries in response to the January Challenge, so it has been reopened. It will remain open at least until March 15. If you needed more time to think about the challenge before writing a poem, you can do it now! Scroll down to see the guidelines. If you wrote a poem and forgot to submit it before the original deadline, you can do so now.

A new challenge will be posted on February 1, so specify the month of the challenge when you submit a poem.

Good luck!

© Wilda Morris

Friday, January 1, 2016

January 2016 Poetry Challenge

I belong to two small groups which meet and write after one member of the group reads a poem she has found in a book or on the Internet. The poem and the discussion of it – poetic techniques, interesting wording, well-written lines, and/or ideas – serve as inspiration for each member of the group to write their own poem. The works produced in these groups are usually very different. That is partly because the group members can be inspired by the content or by the style of the poem. But it is also a result of the fact that a poem is often about more than one thing and may have levels of meaning. An object may be a metaphor, or it may be a tool used in the narrative. In addition, each member of the group brings her own experience to the reading and discussion of the poem.

I suspect that Andrea Witzke Slot’s poem, “Regret” would inspire a diverse set of response poems from members of such a group.


I am sorry I didn’t return your call
or answer your second call, or return
your text or email or Facebook message.
It is hard to hear when I am turning, turning,
pulling down computer-lidded eyes, packing up,
walking away. Did you know I wake in the night
thinking of you—yes, thinking of you—wondering
why I didn’t return your call, or answer your second call
or kept my phone on silent for days and then for weeks
or didn’t type a response while the computer-
lidded eyes remained propped open toothpick style
for so very long? Don’t get me wrong. I love you.
And I have tried to hear you ring and ring and ring,
like phones used to ring when we were children,
when we all jumped up and ran a mad-dashed race toward
the large yellow-belled instrument, wanting to know
who it was and my sister would win and she would
answer breathlessly and sigh as she surrendered
the plastic dogbone to me, and then you and I would talk
for hours as I leaned against a bright orange kitchen wall
with my fingers sweating and wrapped tight around
the heavy receiver, and I miss you, even more now since
the empty message voice turned up to stop your clear rings
in their tracks, in the way I wish it could stop all that is now
turning, turning, pulling down, packing up, walking away.

~ Andrea Witzke Slot

This poem was first published in Segue 12: Fall 2014; used by permission of the author. 

Winner of Fiction International ’s 2015 Short Short Fiction Contest, Andrea Witzke Slot writes fiction, poetry, and essays, and is fascinated most by the ways in which these genres intersect. She is author of the poetry collection To find a new beauty (Gold Wake Press, 2012), and her work has been published widely, including in such places as Bellevue Literary Review, The Adirondack Review, Mid-American Review, Poetry East, MeasureFiction SoutheastNimrod, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and in books published by SUNY Press (2013) and Palgrave Macmillan (2014). Her fiction, including her novel The Cartography of Flesh: in the silence of Ella Mendelssohn, and creative nonfiction are now represented by Stephanie Sinclair at Transatlantic Literary Agency. She lives between London and Chicago.

Before reading further, reread the poem and ask yourself what poem it might inspire in you.

I saw multiple ways of responding to Slot’s poem. “Regret,” might inspire someone to write about the break-up of a relationship with a lover, a friend or family member. It might remind a person of a phone call returned or not returned, or about a telephone (maybe a cell phone, maybe a yellow phone that looks like a dog bone, or for someone older, a black phone from that time when virtually all phone were black). Maybe the poem makes you think of what (or who) keeps you awake at night. Perhaps you looked at the title, and said to yourself, “What do I regret?” Did you ponder who among your acquaintances is “turning” or “walking away”? Did you ask yourself from what or whom have you walked away? What makes you “turn,” “pull up,” and “pack up?”

January 2016 Poetry Challenge

The challenge for January is much broader than usual. Read “Regret” silently and aloud. Think about it; discuss it with another poet or group of poets, if you wish. Then sit down and write a poem inspired by it. The ideas above are not the only possibilities. Be creative. Since it is January, you might want to turn it into a New Year’s resolution poem, but that is not required. Below the poem, briefly explain the thought process that took you from Slot’s poem to your own.

Your poem may be formal or free verse. If you use a form, please specify the form. Unless your poem is haiku, it should be titled.

Poems already published in books, or published on the Internet (including Facebook and other on-line social networks) are not eligible. If your poem has been published in a print periodical, you may submit it if you retain copyright, but please include publication data. Only one poem per poet, please.

The deadline is January 15. Poems submitted after the January 15 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 will know by the end of the month whether or not your poem will be published on this blog. Your poem may be free or formal verse. If you use a form, please specify the form when you submit. Decision of the judge or judges is final.

Copyright on each poem is retained by the poet.

How to Submit Your Poem:

Send one poem only to wildamorris[at]ameritech[dot]net (substitute the @ sign for “at” and a . for “dot”) . Include a brief bio which can be printed with your poem, if you are a winner this month.

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. 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. Also, if lines are too long, they don’t fit in the blog format and have to be split, so you might be wise to use shorter lines.

© Wilda Morris