Poetry Forge


Online courses and in person workshops and retreats taught by Holly Wren Spaulding of Poetry Forge.


a process

& good company

that honors the work & your place in it

September 21 Day Poetry Challenge

September 21 Day Poetry Challenge



designed with the challenges of the 21st century in mind

Created and hosted by Holly Wren Spaulding, writer, interdisciplinary artist, and founder of Poetry Forge.


Home, Belonging, Away, Return. What does home mean? What about belonging? Where are you from? Who are your people? Can you imagine yourself into the shoes of another human being—a migrant, a homeless person, or someone from somewhere else? You may find yourself thinking about some of these questions as we read poems that explore themes of home and belonging, and use different techniques to write into our unique experiences of being away, returning, making a home, or never quite belonging, no matter where we go. Of course, the readings and provocations will easily yield to other topics, obsessions and provocations. The season’s theme offers only a starting point. We will hold it lightly, in the interest of welcoming whatever wants to be written during the month of September.


Short and intense by design, this month-long, quarterly regimen (they happen in September, December, March and June) was created for humans who want to explore how a daily rhythm of reading and writing poetry can lead to more words on the page, stronger craft, vibrant imagination, and a stronger connection to one's self and the world.


Participants receive original writing prompts (with variations), gentle coaching, and short audio postcards, all via email, as well as live, interactive workshops, which Holly hosts via Zoom. This course does not require you to login to a platform and instead urges a steady, off-line practice, that begins with a daily reading by the likes of Diane Seuss, Linda Gregg, Rachel Zucker, Henri Cole, Sharon Olds, Lucille Clifton, John Rybicki, Natalie Diaz, Evie Shockley, Jean Valentine, Gabrielle Calvocoressi, Olav H. Hauge, Jim Harrison, Aracelis Girmay, James Schuyler, Wislawa Szymborska, Joy Harjo, Louise Gluck, and other contemporary voices.


In an effort to discover a more inclusive reading list than the one many of us encountered during our early education, Holly takes special care to introduce participants to authors they may not already know, though they are worthy of our attention.


As we cross the threshold of a new season on the Autumn Equinox (September 21), marvel at all you have accomplished in three enjoyable weeks with Holly and a collective of other poets and secret poets:

  • new poems, passages, or fragments for future projects

  • truly helpful writing strategies

  • new favorite poems and a clearer sense of what to read on your own

  • increased calm and a feeling of groundedness where your writing practice is concerned

  • a better sense of what it might mean to be a poet in the world (as opposed to one that only writes)

  • concrete steps to move your work forward

  • a richer relationship to your inner life

  • feedback on your work in progress


As an added benefit, you are invited to submit three poems for private feedback at the end of the session. Personalized, handwritten notes are offered with the intention of helping you move the work forward. Holly and her teaching assistant, Amber Edmondson, bring decades of experience when reading your work, and will offer craft guidance, line-edits, and reading suggestions, according to your needs. This part of the course is optional, although most participants find it motivating to have a deadline and opportunity for thoughtful critique.


Now in its sixth year, hundreds of writers have completed the 21 Day Poetry Challenge, and many return each season to do it again, as all content is fresh each time. In just one month, you may well discover a daily practice that could actually work for you, too. REGISTER NOW or reach out with your questions.


Registration closes on August 31. The course runs through the Autumn Equinox, and is followed by a ten day period in which you are encouraged to work on your drafts, in order to submit some of them for feedback at the end of the month. In total, we spend 30 days together, working independently most of the time: September 1-30, 2019.


. . . to wake up and read a poem every day, and give least 15 minutes to your writing practice. It feels good to replace less nourishing habits, with something that actually improves the quality of your life. It feels good to fall in love with a poem by an author you’ve never heard of before. It feels good to gather with other readers and poets, for a guided writing experience, no matter where you live in the world. it feels good to put pen to paper, and say what you feel, think, saw, did, remember, want, need, imagine. It feels good to make one’s inner life more legible. It feels good to be read and guided in the process of developing work in progress.


This email-based course delivers daily prompts and poems to your inbox. Three times during the session we will meet for interactive workshop. Come if you can, or watch the replay (although live is always best.)


Curious and seasoned writers. Secret poets. Teachers and workshop facilitators. Prose writers who want to sharpen their diction and learn about compression. ANYONE who want to write more, regardless of genre. You are welcome. This is an all-levels course that provides options so that writers at any stage in their writing life can find something useful and enriching.

As always, please reach out with your questions if you are considering this program for the first time.

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“I've appreciated your poems, prompts, and encouragement. And I've written more this past month than in the 11 months preceding. I'm hoping to keep the momentum going." R.S., December Challenge 2018 “

"I have enjoyed the Challenge & achieved what I wanted. I especially loved option 3 today & plan to continue to use that approach frequently. Thank you, Holly, for making it possible for me to participate." D.B., December Challenge 2018

"This is my third (or 4th?) time taking your class and it is such a pleasure. I love receiving the emails each day, and incorporating this into my morning practice. I am finding that sometimes there’s a poem right then (as with the first one I’m sharing here), and other times the support of that structure helps me later on, as it did with the funeral poem I wrote. That one exposed some fury I didn’t even know I had, and again—I am grateful. For poetry, and for your gift in supporting the process." C.H. December Challenge 2018