DEADLINE EXTENDED to 5/15/2020
We’ve been getting remarkable submissions…. and a few queries about offering a bit more time with these mind-bending prompts. Happy to offer! Much as other deadlines are being pushed into the future, it feels like it’s the right gesture for the moment.
A “Broadsided Responds” Feature
With so many people around the world confined to their homes in an attempt to slow the progress of Covid-19, we are being challenged in many ways: emotionally, financially, creatively. Our bonds with friends and family, with government and employers, with ourselves.
Creating a space for writers and artists to respond to moment of shared reality is an important and necessary part of Broadsided’s mission. To that end, we want to offer a few highly-structured writing prompts that engage with a sense of home at this moment and invite new perspectives on what it means to be confined at home or elsewhere. We, too, are hungry for new ways to bend our minds, to escape the worn ruts we travel. We want writing that comes from your experiences of this current pandemic, yet through the portholes we offer.
As writers and teachers, we see form as a type of solace: a satisfying puzzle to solve, a way to get the “clever” part of the brain focused on form’s parameters while the deep and chthonic self secretly finds its route. We also see shared challenges as opportunities for community-making. Join us. Try these prompts. Share with us what you make.
We have also begun curating a folio of broadsides focused on “Solace.” They can be found under our archive tag, and also here. If you can think of broadsides we’ve published that offer comfort or solace, please feel free to suggest them to us.
Dates & Guidelines
Deadline for Submissions: May 15, 2020 (formerly May 5).
Submit via Submittable: While we ask for a $3 entry fee, which goes wholly toward keeping Broadsided (an all-volunteer operation) running, we realize that these times are very difficult financially for many people. We are making the submission fee voluntary. If you can afford to support this work, thank you.
Further guidelines are on the Submittable page.
Once we’ve selected a folio of work to publish, we’ll reach out to our team of artists to see how they, in turn, would like to respond. It’s our hope to release this folio on July 1, 2020.
1.) “Attention equals life or is its only evidence”
Inspired by this Frank O’Hara quote, and recognizing that most of us are finding ourselves paying attention to our own home environments, news, and the world outside our windows quite differently now than we probably ever have in our lives, write a poem that does the following:
- Begins by vividly describing something in your immediate physical environment that you might not have paid much attention to much (you don’t need to discuss your past lack of attention–just bring our attention fully now to whatever it is).
- Includes a quoted phrase or sentence from a page opened to at random in some book you love and which is in your home.
- Includes a reference to the etymology of one or more subjects or things you’ve been obsessing over or paying a lot of attention to. This etymology or earlier meaning should be used instead of actually referring to the word itself. (It may be useful to make a list of the main things you’ve been paying attention to and look up the etymologies for each. E.g. if I look up the etymologies for news and virus, I find that news has the “absurd folk etymology” of being an abbreviation for “north east west south,” and I might therefore include some reference to directions in my poem, or that virus comes from a root meaning “to melt away, to flow” . . .).
- Mentions something that is too fantastical, historical, mythical, or otherwise impossible to have in your home, yet you wish were there with you.
- Includes, in your 8th line, a metaphor about something you can see out your window.
Have fun! If you want further inspiration, O’Hara’s own poems, which he called “I do this I do that” poems, for their often rapid movement between subjects, might serve as one fantastic end of the spectrum of paying attention. And Pablo Neruda’s slower-paced Elemental Odes, in which he celebrates—and makes us differently see and appreciate—everyday objects such as socks and lemons might serve as another!
2.) Anti-Erasure/Home Cento
Erasures can be a wonderful way to find a story within a story, working against or beyond what’s on the page. But it seems these days we’ve had too much of paring back. Centos are built from the words of other writers. But what can we build from what’s around us daily?
Look around your home for a set of 14 words (verbs or nouns only) that are easily visible. They can be from food packaging, book spines (don’t open any books!), magnets, or “to do” lists left on the counter. Create a 14-line poem (a semi-sonnet), in which each line uses one of those found words. Please provide a list of the sources!
3.) “Beautiful Outlaw/Belle Absente”
Sometimes called the “something is missing poem.” Our current state of physical distancing seems like a perfect time to practice this Oulipo-inspired form, which speaks to something it can never name, something that is always beautifully, painfully missing.
- Begin with a word as your title. This creates the scaffolding for your poem. It could be “shelter,” or “health,” or it could be someone’s name who you can’t be with in person right now, or somewhere you can’t be: “Louisiana,” “Grandmother,” “subway,” etc. Anything will work.
- You will have one stanza for each letter in your word. If your word is “Shelter,” your first stanza will be the “s” stanza, the second will be the “h” stanza, and so forth (NOTE: we only accept poems of 25 lines or less, so your stanzas need to be planned accordingly!)
- Each stanza must use every letter of the alphabet, except the one it refers to.
- So: your “s” stanza will use every letter but “s,” your “h” stanza will use every letter but “h,” your “e” stanza will use every letter but “e,” etc. Achieve this however you see fit.
- This is a great form for pushing your use of language and grammar, as you won’t be able to say things in the way you’re used to. Cozy up to that dictionary.