A Birthday Poetry Giveaway

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

I admit, this time last year, I figured we’d have this pandemic issue all sorted out, and I’d be able to have a big dinner party with all of my friends. Turns out that prediction was incorrect! This year is still better than last year, because I do get to have a small gathering with my quarantine pod, and everyone in it is fully vaccinated. Still, I miss being able to have big gatherings. I have a good feeling 2022 will be the year.

Even with the pandemic, though, I feel celebratory. Especially because my birthday falls during National Poetry Month! So I thought I’d offer some presents to you, dear readers. So I’m hosting a drawing for four books!

  1. A copy of my first chapbook, We’re Smaller Than We Think We Are
  2. A copy of my second chapbook, Come Into the World Like That
  3. A copy of Cooking With the Texas Poets Laureate, edited by Elizabeth Ethredge
  4. A copy of Eat This Poem by Nicole Gulotta

To Enter

  1. Comment on this post telling me which book(s) interest you the most
  2. You will get a bonus entry if you link to a poem you love
  3. Deadline to comment is Sunday, April 18th at 11:59 pm
  4. I will draw winners at random and notify recipients within four days of the deadline

April Poetry Contest: Villanelle

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

April is my birthday month! And the villanelle is my favorite form. So this month, the contest prompt is to write a villanelle incorporating at least one of the following:

  • Glitter
  • Peonies
  • Oolong tea
  • The beach
  • A word in a language other than English
  • Spaghetti carbonara
  • Craftsman furniture
  • Cedar Point

Email your poem to allyson@allysonwhipple.com by 11:59 pm on April 20th. The winner will receive a gift certificate to the independent bookstore of their choice, or I will make a donation in their honor to a nonprofit.

View complete contest rules and past winners here.

Let’s Spend a Year Studying Form

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While I mostly write in free verse, most of my poet friends know that I love form. In fact, even in my free verse, I usually incorporate some formal aspect… Something that my MFA thesis advisor and I butted heads about on a regular basis! Even though I don’t regularly write with rhyme and meter, I do enjoy incorporating some formal structure into my work. Sometimes that means only writing in tercets, or repeating a specific word, or making the poem fit a predetermined shape. I find the challenge a major source of inspiration.

Starting this April, I’m launching A Year of Forms. Whether it be meditation, writing, or some other endeavor, I’ve found long periods of practice and study to be invaluable. I’ve decided I want to spend the next year of my life studying form, and I want to study it with you!

While I’ve created a yearlong program, I know that might not work for everyone. To that end, I’ve divided the workshop into four themed series. That way, you can still get the benefit of some longer structured study. Single workshop sessions are also available. Finally, if you’re looking for one-on-one critiques, I’m offering optional private sessions to supplement the program.

Check out the program page for details. I look studying form with you this year!

March Poetry Contest Winner

I received a record number of entries this month! I think that the theme of equanimity resonated with a number of readers. This month, I am excited to announce that we have our first international winner!

Photograph of Ojo Taiye by Downtown Studios

Ojo Taiye is a Nigerian poet whose work appears in the Rumpus, Glass Poetry Journal, and a number of other places. His poem, “Hereditary Blues,” has a subtle connection to the theme. I appreciated the way his work made me pause and think.

Due to challenges related to international transactions, this month, I made an exception and gave the prize directly to Ojo himself. I definitely didn’t anticipate having international poets enter this contest, so I didn’t anticipate this issue. But I think it’s a good problem to have!

Hereditary Blues

for some years now, you lay out your blue-coated pills & thank them
for their taste buds: the dilating seas that neatly occupy your bed
with a living dream. the sky today is made of your lover’s breath. you
realize your love for him is like a city on fire: mother of all balm &
each growing desire is a wing shaped by time. you dream of homeland
only in your poems. this is always what you wanted: to hold your
breath when no one else will. all day you watch for the mail—lost in
the reverie for some news from a distant place. you are an un-happy
thing—a grey country quietly waiting for the catastrophe of its own
beauty. haven’t you travelled enough—to end the chore. to be lost in a
suspension of time. it maybe the coldest month of the year— & you are
an odd spot of calm misled by want. how your imprecise side stayed up
to watch the sun eat the moon. this morning you woke up to snows &
skies of laughter not enough—

March Poetry Contest: Equanimity

Equal parts cookie and cream

March is the month of the spring equinox. My favorite equinox memory is when my 9th grade geography teacher brought Double-Stuff Oreos for all of her students, because they had equal parts light and dark. (Apparently the true balance of this particular cookie has been debunked, but it remains a wonderful memory nonetheless.)

For the March contest, create a poem that incorporates the theme of equanimity. You can do this any number of ways:

  • Write a poem in which the content is concerned with equanimity;
  • Write a concrete poem representing equanimity;
  • Use, bend, or break the rules of a poetic form to create a sense of equanimity.

I am so excited to see what you come up with!

Email your poem to allyson@allysonwhipple.com by 11:59 pm on March 20th. The winner will receive a gift certificate to the independent bookstore of their choice, or I will make a donation in their honor to a nonprofit.

View past contest winners here.