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Interview: Robert Lee Brewer & the Poem-A-Day (PAD) Chapbook Challenge

One of the creative challenges I’ve decided to take this month is Robert Lee Brewer’s November PAD Chapbook Challenge, in which participants write a poem each day, based on a prompt. “During the month of November, don’t worry so much about finished drafts; just get the rough drafts cranked out each day. After all, you’ve got December (and the rest of your life, for that matter) to edit.

It’s been fun posting as well as reading other people’s poems. Robert was kind enough to take some time out of poetry writing to answer a few questions…

What gave you the idea to start the PAD Challenges? (& how many have you had so far?)
We’re currently in the third annual November PAD Chapbook Challenge. Earlier this year, we finished the third annual April PAD Challenge. That’s where all the prompts and challenges started. I’m always trying to think of ways to help other poets—and inspiring them to write is just one way to do that. So I started offering a prompt a day (and two on Tuesdays) in April of 2008. That first challenge was so successful I started doing Wednesday Poetry Prompts each week. As we neared NaNoWriMo month in 2008, I started thinking that it would be neat to give poets a slightly different challenge while fiction writers work on their novels—so I challenged them to write a poem a day in the hopes of getting a 10-20 page chapbook together.
You must be so pleased with the response you’ve had! Every time I check in, SO many poets have posted! How have you found the experience so far?
I remember telling my wife (who I was dating at the time) that I wouldn’t be surprised if nobody participates that first year. Boy was I surprised when more than 100 poets jumped in the first day! And it’s only increased in popularity since. I’m the type of person who always hopes for success but expects failure. So I’m almost always pleasantly surprised by any type of success. The best part is that over time I’ve heard from many current and past PAD participants who have placed their PAD poems with various publications and even published whole collections. Plus, it’s amazing to hear that these challenges have either sparked an interest in poetry or brought poets back to their poeming ways!
What advice do you have for aspiring poets?
Read contemporary poets. Local poets if possible. Find them at literary festivals, open mics, readings, online, or wherever possible. Read online journals. Read anthologies and literary journals (at the library or bookstore). Of course, you must write too, but I find that the more poetry I read the better I feel about my own voice. Outside of that, read your poems aloud or have a friend do so for you. This really helps you figure out obvious flaws in the rhythm of your words.

What are your current/upcoming projects?
I currently have the November PAD Chapbook Challenge, the WD Poetic Form Challenge: Rondeau, and a challenge to create a new poetic form. In addition to poet interviews, craft advice and publishing tips, I’m usually trying to offer prompts and challenges for poets. At the moment, I’m also figuring out my plans for the 2012 editions of Poet’s Market and Writer’s Market. Plus, I’ve been submitting both individual poems and a few chapbook submissions of my own.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
If anyone wants to tweet poetic on Twitter, there are a few different hashtags available to poets. On Tuesdays, they can use #poettues. Throughout the week, poets use #poettalk to share links, poems and poetic quips. @32poems hosts a #poetparty every Sunday evening from 9-10 p.m. ET. And, #novpad is the hashtag of choice for poets who are pushing through the November PAD Chapbook Challenge. Outside of that, thank you so much for the interview. It was fun!

For more insights from book creators, see my Inkygirl Interview Archives and Advice For Young Writers And Illustrators From Book Creators.