Writing Prompt 12

Welcome to the twelfth day of our 30/30!

Your prompt today is:


Write a poem from the perspective of
your totem animal



Image credit www.cliparts.co
Guidelines, if you want them:

  • Posting your response is not required
  • Feel free to post your response   🙂
  • This is not meant to be the perfect first draft – respond without hesitation for 5-7 minutes, then keep going if you want to
  • While our prompts are geared towards poetry, we welcome all kinds of artists
  • Tips & encouragement are here

Get ready for 30/30!

It’s the eve of National Poetry Month, and we’re gearing up for an intense but fulfilling challenge: 30/30, responding to a writing prompt each day in April. We’ll be posting prompts here, or you might find a list you love elsewhere in a writing book or on the Internet.

Have you done a 30/30 before? They’re wonderful, but can seem a bit daunting when you’re peering over the edge, wondering if that bridge is as close as it looks. Never fear! We have a few secrets to help us all make that marvelous journey across the ravine that is Not Making Enough Time for Your Writing.

Secret #1: This is a dedicated No Judging Zone.

That means no judging anything that comes out of your pen in response to a prompt. By you, by us, by anyone. The name of the game is not 30 [Poems] in 30 Days. It’s 30 Prompts in 30 Days. So relax: perfection isn’t the goal. Showing up is absolutely enough to make this achievement real.

Which brings me to the next thing we don’t judge: if you miss on day 3, or day 8, or day 23, or even day 1, guess what? No judging. Just show up the next day. And if you miss that day? Still okay. Yes, it’s a 30/30. Good news: writing 25 days out of 30 is still an amazing accomplishment. So is writing 10 days out of 30. Stop giving yourself a hard time. Give yourself the benefit of the doubt, instead, and another chance tomorrow.

Secret #2: Better five minutes now than an hour “later.”

Time. We’re surrounded by it and yet it’s a constant paucity. One of the reasons I don’t write as much as I’d like is that it’s so rarely a good time to write. I’ll do it after this chore, or that meeting, or the other obligation, I promise myself. And then the day is over and I’m barely able to summon the energy to browse Netflix, let alone do anything creative. If you don’t have this problem, bless you, I am overjoyed for you. If you’re like me, let’s agree that the mythical ‘good time to write’ is the unicorn we’re going to cherish as a well-loved myth, even as we put our hands to the reins of the next five minutes. Yes, this five minutes, right now. Even if you think you’re in an environment where you can’t concentrate, just try and see what happens. Even if you just end up jotting down a note or two towards a poem that’s been hovering around the edges of your mind, you’ve succeeded in setting something down that you can return to later. It’s so often easier to edit than to create; your future self will be singing your praises when she picks those notes back up again.

And who knows? Maybe with that spark of momentum from this imperfect five minutes will give you the energy you need to delve into that quiet hour later.

Let’s agree that the mythical ‘good time to write’
is the unicorn we’re going to cherish
as a well-loved myth, even as we put our hands
to the reins of the next five minutes.

Secret #3: We love you just the way you are.

See also: Secret #1. Can we all agree that perfection must be extremely boring? If I could tell my younger self one thing, it would be to revel in the mess of creation. Get paint on your clothes. Write on your face accidentally as you try to tug the right word out of your mind. Find yourself with 20 semi-relevant browser tabs open after writing a blog post. Laugh at your fabulous flaws and keep on going. Have you now used the same 50-cent word in four prompts responses in a row? No worries, maybe that’s the theme of your next chapbook. No worries, you can edit it out if you need to in later drafts. No worries, maybe that’s the word you should use as your next prompt for tomorrow.

To that end, I want to say this: structure can be a good and beautiful thing. It can also stifle. If you usually sit down to visit our page and respond to the prompt at 3 o’clock, but at 8:30 a.m. you see something out the window that sparks a line, grab a pen and write it down. You’re allowed to use prompts from different sources. You’re allowed to write down lines that popped randomly into your head apropos of nothing. You’re allowed to use anything you want as a prompt, and any words you put together seeking beauty or meaning on a page count towards your 30/30.

So, what are your favorite tips and tricks for making time to write? Where do you like to find prompts? We’d love to hear your ideas; please feel free to share in the comments. And please do stop by each day in April, if you need prompts for your 30/30. We look forward to writing with you!



2015 List of Indispensable Women Poets

On our contest entry form we ask poets to list 2-3 Indispensable Women Poets. What an amazing resource this is creating for us!

Here’s the list of names submitted as of December 20th:

Adrienne Rich
Akiko Yosano
Allison Townsend
Anna Akhmatova
Anne Finch
Annie Dillard
Aracelis Girmay
Audre Lorde
Beckian Fritz Goldberg
Bette Lynch Husted
Brenda Shaugnessy
Cathy Colman
Cecilia Woloch
Connie Willis
Dahlia Ravikovitch
Daisy Fried
Denise Duhamel
Eavan Boland
Elizabeth Bishop
Ellen Bass
Emily Dickinson
Gjertrud Schnackenberg
Glenna Luschei
Gwendolyn Brooks
Heather McHugh
Helen Klein Ross
Holly Day
Jane Hirschfield
Jane Kenyon
Joan Colby
Judy Rowe Michaels
Kay Ryan
Kim Addonizio
Liesl Mueller
Linda Gregg
Linda Hogan
Linda Pastan
Louise Erdrich
Louise Glück
Lucille Clifton
Lucy Tapahonso
Margaret Atwood
Marian Boyer
Marie Howe
Marilyn Hacker
Marsha de la O
Mary Oliver
Maxine Kumin
May Sarton
May Swenson
Maya Angelou
Muriel Rukeyser
Naomi Shihab Nye
Natasha Trethewey
Nellie Wong
Nikki Finney
Paisley Rekdal
Patricia Caspers Ross
Patricia Fargnoli
Patricia Smith
Pattiann Rogers
Quan Barry
Rachel Bluwstein
Renee Ashley
Rita Dove
Ruth Stone
Sandra Cisneros
Sharon Olds
Sonia Sanchez
Sylvia Plath
Tiffany Midge
Ursula K. Le Guin
Wislawa Szymborska

QuillsEdge is Pro-Diversity!

QuillsEdge Press is thrilled to announce
that our 2015 contest includes a
Pro-Diversity entrance fee of $5.00
for self-identified Women of Color


In our first contest last year the proportion of manuscripts we received from Women of Color did not match the number of talented Women of Color writers we know are out there, so we resolved to reach out in new ways this year.


Please help us by sharing our news
with your writing communities!

Great news! Another poetry prize for women over 50!

Accepting Submissions: September 1st, 2015 – November 30, 2015

wilder prize2015 Two Sylvias Press Wilder Series Book Prize: 
A Poetry Contest for Women Over Age 50

Submission Dates: Sept. 1, 2015 – Nov. 30th, 2015.

Judges: The editors of Two Sylvias Press–
Kelli Russell Agodon and Annette Spaulding-Convy.

Prize: $1000 and publication by Two Sylvias Press
(print book and eBook plus an art nouveau pendant).

The Wilder Series Book Prize is open to women over 50 years of age (established or emerging poets) and includes a $1000 prize, publication by Two Sylvias Press, 20 copies of the winning book, and a vintage, art nouveau pendant. Women submitting manuscripts may be poets with one or more previously published chapbooks/books or poets without any prior chapbook/book publications. All manuscripts will be considered for publication.

Please read the complete guidelines below before submitting your manuscript.

Submission Requirements:

Please submit an original, unpublished full-length manuscript of poetry (no translations or previously self-published books). Individual poems may have been previously published in journals, magazines, anthologies, and chapbooks, but the collection as a whole must be unpublished.

Open to: Women over the age of 50 (born on or before November 30, 1965)

Length: 60-100 pages of poems
(One poem per page. Though poems can be longer than one page, we just want to make sure each poem begins on its own page and that two poems are never included on the same page.)

Manuscript should include a table of contents and an acknowledgments page for previously published poems.

Poet’s name should not appear in the manuscript.

A poet may submit more than one manuscript for consideration. Submit additional manuscript(s) in a separate email(s) and include submission fee(s).

Simultaneous submissions allowed. Please notify Two Sylvias Press immediately if manuscript is accepted elsewhere.

NOTE: Our mission at Two Sylvias Press is to support poets. Your manuscript will NOT be disqualified if it was submitted incorrectly. We will not penalize you for trying and making a mistake. If we have a question or concern about your manuscript format, we will contact you and allow you to resubmit. Please know that we are on your side. Thank you for trusting us with your work.

– See more at: http://www.twosylviaspress.com/wilder-series-poetry-book-prize.html#sthash.qP6TqECI.dpuf

The Chapbooks Have Arrived!

All of the chapbooks went out to our authors this week! We asked everyone to send us pictures of opening up the packages, and Lucia Galloway, author of The Garlic Peelers, was the first to gleefully respond.

Here are the photos, so you can share the joy.

lucia opening manuscripts

oh winter….

Women of the Quill,

I appreciate everyone’s patience. Had we known winter would be so challenging, we would perhaps have made this a spring to summer contest. However…the final judging is in sight…because everyone’s schedule has been skeltered, Barbara has set aside time to judge beginning the second week in March. If you would like me to send along you manuscript reviews before the final judging just let me (Jane) know. Most are done and I would be happy to share your’s with you. If I do not hear from you, they will all go out after the final judging.

For me, this has been a winter of challenges. Ice and falls, floods that came indoors from burst pipes. I am sure we all have experienced these, especially as the years wind by. And it is probably too long since I have written, although I am not sure how many read this form of communication. To those who do, I thank you for your patience and understanding…and pledge Elliott’s and my good intentions in a season of adversity.

May you all be warm and savor your favorite comfort food and soup of the season.

Beauty is on the Inside

Women of the Quill,

It is six in the morning and I have read all the manuscripts and handed them off to Elliott, the significant other of the press. Now it is her colossal job to read your unique work with her unique vision and insight. We are working with due diligence but with care. Then we together will select the final manuscripts to send to our esteemed judge Barbara Crooker, who has a new book of her own! Her collected works are now available from FutureCycle Press, and you can order one to read with great enjoyment. (info@barbaracrooker.com)

Because we have been blessed and because of the added month of extended submissions, the press, thanks to you all, is on more solid ground. We have the money for the chapbook winner, to file for nonprofit status, and maybe even pay an accountant to do our taxes. (We are poets after all!) And we hope to announce a New Year’s surprise soon, which will give you the opportunity to preview more of the extraordinary poems we have read and have astonished us. In the meantime, sit tight–stay warm, meditate if you are into that or ice fish.  And do consider writing your next poem, as a moving forward.

The work for me also continues. For all of you who asked for manuscript evaluations, this is my morning’s work, and has been for a week now. Each of you get who asked for this get my undivided attention for an hour to an hour and a half.(Not bad for fifteen bucks, a grand opening special!) When I write to you (or you receive a call) I will try to notice both the beauty and strengths of your poetry, and possible directions and ways to explore and revise at the same time. Going deeper is one of my focuses. Using every tool of the craft which may enhance your individual poems, is the other.  Often the best places to look carefully at exemplary poems are to go back to those favorite poets each of you shared with us, and notice how they do what they do. In fact, just yesterday I read again, considered again, Elizabeth Bishop and her poem, “One Art.” The poem took her years to write, and went through dozens of revisions. Now there’s perseverance!

My best to you all. Jane

Reading time….

It is time to hunker down with some steamy coffee and a thick stack of manuscripts. It is great to hear new voices in a New Year. And so many fine poems–so many heart to voice poems; so many poems of life & vision. In this process, the poems go from Jane’s home, where you sent your manuscripts, to Elliott’s & then we discuss the manuscripts together to come up with a list of finalists to send to Barbara Crooker. While we are doing this, we encourage you all to read your favorite writers & a someone new, to listen to your favorite music & discover or redicover music; to open up to 2015 in renewal and possibility!