2016 November PAD Chapbook Challenge







It’s that time of year again. The Writer’s Digest PAD (poem-a-day) has begun. Fill your pockets and notebooks with metaphors and strong verbs. Write a poem every day for the month of November. When the month is over, collect your poems into a chapbook. You’ll need to read the guidelines for submitting yours, so click this link for  all the details.

To get started, I’ll give you today’s two-for-Tuesday prompt:

  • Write a stay poem.
  • Write a go poem.

Interpret that however you wish.

As for me, I’m settling in with my thesaurus and a cuppa cuppa . . . and maybe some leftover Halloween candy and a very large thinking cap.

Gotta come up with something before the big game!

Go Cubs!


Apple Pie Ice Cream Dream

Written for Poetic Bloomings Prompt # 193

WE ALL SCREAM: Pick a favourite flavour as your inspiration and use it as the title of your poem. Points for making up your own flavour! Bonus points if your poem actually has nothing to do with ice cream!

I stretched it a little. And added a cat. Because . . . well . . . cats and ice cream . . . even though my poem has nothing to do with cats.

Apple Pie Ice Cream Dreams (1)

Apple Pie Dream

a red white and blue sky morning
a cuppa and another
cuppa down the hatch, Jack

newsreels reeling, airwaves crackling
another red white and blue stars and stripes
up in smoke mad world spinning on FIRE

out of love with Lady Liberty
Lady reporter sings in her mic,
we’re all gonna die, we’re all gonna die
world sinkin’ into a mire of fear

tears tumble inside the empty tide
where standin’ right there right
inside the sea right
inside a wave of grief

39 signers with inky fingers
holding up a parchment of gold
(safe and sound)

tonight’s delight—
a Grand Canyon dipper (or two)
of apple pie dreamy creamy à la  pro patria
nestled inside one giant melting pot (or two)

it’ll be a cozy night
a gonna take it slowly night
for mom and baseball
for mustangs and rodeos
for James Fennimore, Twain, and Poe

under a blue moon of dreams.

A Weekly Haiku

Poetic Bloomings served up a challenge to write a week of haiku, highlighting a week of days in a string of seven haiku.  Anything is fair game, so I wrote what happens (and has happened) every day of every week of every month for the past four or five years. My dad’s health is poor. My mom has Alzheimer’s. Their days are like  the movie Groundhog Day. The same ol’ same ol’.

Here’s my offering for “WHAT A WEEK IT WAS!”

The Daily Calendar

by J.lynn Sheridan


Old sergeants wrestle.
Against time and providence.
Playing hide and seek.

He prays for heaven
Weary of daily battles
The sunrise cheats him.

She prays to go home.
Lost inside her tangled mind.
Asking her own name.

Another phone call.
Another question of time.
Searching the shadows.

Remembering 1953

White lace and diamonds.
Home sweet home and hearth to hearth.
Her beauty thrilled him.


A flirt with morning
Lost dreams teasing me.
Insomnia’s gift

Neighbor’s chickens squawk.
Red fox prowler on the hunt.
Thieves hide everywhere.


A Challenged Poet

Being poetic can be hard work.

My hands smell like Lysol. The washing machine is churning. A child is recovering from Influenza and coughing so deeply I cringe with guilt. In the back of my mind are the other items on my to-do list waiting for me: dusting, dinner, vacuuming.

But, writing poetry is not on that list. It’s never on my list. Scheduling poetry seems counterintuitive to me.

But, maybe it shouldn’t.

Dreaming isn’t working.

I used to dream about sitting near the seaside with a notebook, scribbling random pithy thoughts that I’d later form into a lofty poem.
person-802075_1920Even though I live only minutes away from several lakes and a half hour from one of the greatest lakes–Lake Michigan, I have never sat on a pier and dangled my feet in the water and written a poem. Not even close. I wonder why. It seems so easy. I imagine phrases and cadences springing onto the notebook with grace and sophistication and intrigue.

Isn’t writing poetry that simple? Just escape to your favorite nature hideaway with a worn moleskin notebook. Watch the geese, feel the breeze, then scrawl your pen or flex your fingers over your keyboard and voilà . . . a refreshing sculpted poem.

Reality check.

Most of the time, for me anyway, it is not that simple. I doubt my word choices. I wonder if I’m leaving out something. I wonder if I’ve over written. Did I choose the wrong point of view to tell this poem? Nine times out of ten, I’m dissatisfied and I toss away the verse.

Poetry is not my bread and butter. It’s a hobby, as my husband likes to remind me. But, if it’s a hobby, why does it cause me grief? Why do I struggle to write one pure line of poetry?

Simple is hard work.

Dejan Stojanovic wrote: “The most complicated skill is to be simple.”

Like the ballet dancer who practices until her feet bleed but her performance looks effortless. We watch in awe of her talent not taking into account her trials. Or the pianist who plays scales for three hours every morning in preparation for a concert. We listen and hear beauty but we don’t see the struggles.

I have to believe that writing poetry is challenging to me because I want the end result to read simply and effortlessly. Not choppy. Or at least not incomprehensible. To look simple takes a great deal of work. I have come to realize that  my challenge to myself has been to write truth with purity.

That means I need to continue to learn and to grow as I seek to be simple but elegant. Simple but profound. Simple but captivating.

And that takes work.

Scheduling poetry practice isn’t such a bad idea after all. If I can schedule my laundry, I can schedule a few precious moments musing over Robert Frost or William Butler Yeats to learn my craft better.

Other challenges:

Speaking of challenges, the April Poem-a-Day Challenge is a few short weeks away. Last year’s April PAD results have recently been posted. What a surprise to learn that two of my poems made it into the top ten. I challenge you to join me next month. Maybe we’ll win one this time.

Also, take a peek at this month’s blog post on MouseTales Press. Thank you to Carol Early Cooney for interviewing me and to Linda Hatton, managing editor, for publishing Carol’s interview. It was fun. (And challenging. I’m not a spotlight type of gal, so this truly was a challenge.)


The Arrogance of Poetry

“Every work of art is, in one sense, a self-disclosure.”

You ‘ve heard the term metapoetry–poetry about poetry.  It’s a poem about the poem itself or some aspect of poetry: feet, iambs, couplets, etc.

Billy Collins has written a sonnet about sonnets that I can’t post for copyright reasons but you can read here: Sonnet by Billy Collins

In ModPo we learned that all poetry is to some extent meta. If there is any literary art form more narcissistic, I don’t know of it. (Well, except for maybe selfies, which could be, I suppose, a form of art at times.)

I grinned when I found this tweet:” Can the conceit of metapoetry avoid becoming poetic arrogance?”

Isn’t that the epitome of metaphor? The poem about the poem, which hasn’t been written by the poem, is considered arrogant. (Cue the chuckling irony machine.)

But, then what about the poet?

Poems are often about the poet. They are often soul-bearing, utra-personal, and shall I say, often whiny in nature and overloaded with self-disclosure.

Self-disclosure: the process by which one person lets his or her inner being, thoughts, and emotions be known to another.

Even if we write about concrete or the winter storm or wrinkly feet, the poem is reflective of the word artist and their narrators, disclosing  multiple facets such as:

  1. Depth of simile ideation
    Example: My thoughts are as slimy as wet concrete.
  2. or weather prejudices
    Example: I abhor the romance of spring.
  3. or the abnormal
    Example: He dreamed about her foot fungus with anticipation.
    Poetically gross.

So why do poets allow themselves to be so overtly vulnerable?  What need do they have that is served by writing short works of art about their deepest longing or observations or perspectives?

The art of poetry is to evoke emotion. That’s hard to do if we don’t connect with our own emotions.  “Poetry uses forms and conventions to suggest differential interpretation to words, or to evoke emotive responses.”

Even when we write a poem that says nothing about how we feel, the poem is still about the poet. The choice of subject, form, words, spacing, tone, etc.  is revealing.

In the very least, you reveal what you are thinking about at the moment. I’ll admit, sometimes even that feels too exposing for me.

But, it is arrogance that drives us to write poetry?

The criticism that poetry is arrogant, I believe, comes from the thought that we are essentially pointing a finger at ourselves and saying, listen to me.

Then, we blindly assume that someone, somewhere will actually want to pay attention.

That’s not arrogance.

I’d call that human kinship.


November PAD

2015 November PAD Chapbook Challenge

Poets, prepare yourselves. Buy yourself a fancy notebook. Fix a snack. Turn off your phone. Turn on some Duke Ellington or the Bee Gee’s or The Doobie Brothers or whatever floats your boat.  It’s time for another poetic challenge from Writers Digest!

November PAD2

This is the PAD CHAPBOOK challenge. It’s a little different from the April challenge in that you will write a poem each day based on the posted prompt, then you’ll compile the best of the bunch into a theme with the idea of creating your own chapbook and then submit the whole kit and caboodle.

Many poets will daily share their first or second draft on the challenge site in order to participate in poetic community. But, it’s not necessary.  More fun, perhaps. And more neighborly. But, it won’t win you any points with the judges.

Generally, I don’t read any of the shared poems before I post mine. If I did, I’d never post. If you are prone to jealousy or comparison, I suggest you don’t either. For myself, I’m prone to intimidation. I read three posted poems and I want to quiver in my blanky and scold myself for even attempting this annual event.  (I left out the part with my thumb in my mouth. TMI)

What I like about this challenge is that participating poets have the month of December to revise their poems and get them in order before submitting. This gives you some thinking time which comes in handy because the month of November is notorious for being overly busy with a certain holiday consisting of family, feasting, and football frolicking.

So, find your happy place, your writing nook, your lucky pen, or your solitary shadowy retreat.


Then find your groove and come poem with us crazy poets.