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National Poetry Month

Contests, prompts, anthologies and more

April is our favorite month. Every year, the Piper Center celebrates National Poetry Month with daily prompts featured on our social media platforms, weekly Instagram giveaways, poetry drop-in sessions and an online anthology of our favorite entries! Follow along by using hashtag #PiperPoetryMonth.

To learn more about Piper Poetry Month, you can read the 2020 anthology

Piper Center Poetry Prompts

Celebrate National Poetry Month with the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing with daily prompts! Each prompt is written by a local author in partnership with the Center. Find our 2021 prompts this April by going to our Instagram, Facebook or Twitter feeds.

Enter the Contest to be featured in our 2021 online anthology

Thank you for your interest in submitting to the Piper Center's Poetry Month contes! To submit your work to the contest:

  1. Select a prompt you'd like to respond to by visiting our social media feeds
  2. Write a poem in response to the prompt you've selected
  3. Tag us on Facebook (@PiperCenter), Instagram (@pipercenter) or Twitter (@piper_center) or by using the hashtag #PiperPoetryMonth
  4. Submit up to 3 poems in a single .pdf by completing our submission form

Guidelines and Details

Please title your .pdf the title of your first poem in all lowercase without any spaces (e.g. "myfirstpoem.pdf"). No identifying information should appear anywhere in the body of the document. All submissions should be blind. In addition, all poems should identify the prompt to which they are responding by number or direct quotation. 

All submissions will receive a confirmation email from the Piper Center upon receipt. 

Submit to the Contest

More Information 

If you have any questions, please reach out to Coordinator, Outreach Programs M. McDonough at

We can't wait to read your work!


Set 1

1. What are the stories your body is carrying right now? How can you unlock them?
2. Write a map of your hometown; use memories as landmarks.
3. Try a new short form. Look up how to write an Elevenie, a Haibun, or a Naani.
4. Write an epitaph to something you let go of recently.
5. Consider moments of doubt; what have you doubted recently?
6. Put two (or more) poetic forms together at random and create a new form. A haiku-sonnet, a Limmrick-pantoom.

Set 2

7. Praise someone you consider a sister.
8. Choose a photo in your home. Write what that photo has seen looking outwards.
9. Start here: "This job will require a bit of nuance..."
10. Equisite corpse! Pass a notebook around between your friends and write a collaboration.
11. Try this prompt with a child you know: If you met a manta ray, what would you say?
12. Write a love letter without using the words love, you, my, heart or ours.

Set 3

13. Write a "How To" poem using four easy quatrains.
14. Personify an emotion.
15. Find an old photograph of yourself and reinvent the story behind it.
16. Write a letter to yourself one year ago. What do you want them to know?
17. What does Land Back for Indigenous people look like?
18. Give someone you love a superhero origin story.

Set 4

19. Our interdependence speaks. What does it say?
20. Write an ode to comfort food.
21. Write a poem as choreographer's notes. For what dance? Who's dancing?
22. What advice would your favorite author give you about love?
23. Start here: I cupped the rays of dying sunlight in my palm...
24. Write a wedding toast from a fictional character.

Set 5

25. Describe the surprising sight of snow on saguaros. Write about your relationship with water in the desert.
26. When was the first (or last) time you felt at home?
27. Write a poem about the color of an object without using the word for the object or the name of the color.
28. Create a blackout poem using the last bill you received.
29. Begin here: on a rock beach in a desert, you found a small white thing.
30. What is the national anthem for the country of your survival?

The deadline for all submissions is May 15, 2021. Individuals should expect to hear back from the Piper Center regarding their submissions in early July. The anthology will be released in Fall 2021.

Selected poems will be published in a digital anthology. All individuals who have poems selected for publication will receive a free Piper Writers Studio class of their choice. (Some exclusions may apply.)


Amber McCrary

Creative Justice Youth Symposium Facilitator 2021
Poetry Month Drop-In Host 2021
NEA Big Read Partner 2021
Write Here, Write Now Instructor 2020

Amber McCrary is a Diné poet, zinester, feminist and artist. She is Red House born for Mexican people. Originally from Shonto, Arizona and raised in Flagstaff, Arizona. In the small town of Flagstaff is where she discovered her love for Punk Rock and the Do it Yourself Culture. She earned her BA from Arizona State University in Political Science with a minor in American Indian Studies. She received her MFA in creative writing with an emphasis in poetry at Mills College.

Sean Avery

Poetry Month Drop-In Host 2021
Desert Nights, Rising Stars Fellow 2020

Sean Avery is a gamer and Hip-Hop nerd, who’s only wish in our world is to watch an unproblematic, Black sci-fi TV show. Until then, they toil as a Cultural Worker and Digital Organizer for the prison abolitionist people’s movement, Mass Liberation Arizona, while also creating rap, poetry, prose, and performance. Their work questions the limits of Black masculinity, media (mis)representation, and personal narrative. 


tanner menard

Queer Poetry Salon 2021
Poetry Month Drop-In Host 2021
Desert Nights, Rising Stars Faculty 2021
Desert Nights, Rising Stars Moderator 2020
Get Lit Host 2020

tanner menard is a poet & composer, a Louisiana Creole & a member of the Atakapa Ishak Nation. They have published ten albums of ambient music, a chapbook, were thrice nominated for a Pushcart Prize & are published in magazines such as Entropy & Beestung. The Wire Magazine called their sound poetry collaboration with Andrew Weathers an influential modern composition. They are an MFA Candidate at Northern Arizona University, have served as a member of their tribal council, as poetry editor of Thin Air Magazine & are a Kundalini Yoga Teacher.