National Poetry Month

Our favorite month of the year

Celebrate 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, keep reading. You can also read the 2020 anthology

Submit to the Contest

About the contest

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 InstagramFacebook or Twitter feeds.

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. 

Deadlines and Prizes

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.)

Submit to the Contest

Find prompts

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?

Meet our hosts

Alberto Álvaro Ríos


Alberto Álvaro Ríos (he, him, his), born in 1952 in Nogales, Arizona, is the author of eleven books and chapbooks of poetry, three collections of short stories, and a memoir.  His books of poems include The Dangerous Shirt, The Theater of Night, winner of the 2007 PEN/Beyond Ma

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Christie Swedbergh

Associate Director

Christie Swedbergh (she, her, hers) manages the budgetary, financial, and human resource activities for the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing. She has over 16-years of experience in higher education business administration as well as a background in non-profit financial management.

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Laurel Streed

Digital Marketing Specialist

Laurel Streed (she, her, hers) develops multimedia content for external Piper Center communications, including websites, newsletters, social media, and web.

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Sheila Black

Assistant Director

Sheila Black (she, her, hers) is  most recently the author of Radium Dream from Salmon Poetry Ireland.

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Joy Young

Coordinator for Educational Programs

Joy Young joined the Piper Center in 2021 as the Coordinator for Educational Programs. They hold a bachelor's degree in Women and Gender Studies and Liberal Studies which has shaped the ways they approach creating inclusive, dynamic programming.

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Jackie Balderrama

Virginia G. Piper Center Fellow in Residence

Jacqueline Balderrama (she, her, hers) is t

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K'Ehleyr McNulty

Coordinator for Outreach Programs

K’Ehleyr McNulty (she/they:ella/elle) is a citizen of the Ohlone Cos

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Susan Nguyen

Senior Editor for Hayden's Ferry Review

Susan Nguyen (she, her, hers) is the author of the  poetry coll

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