Poetry Forge
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Online courses and in person workshops offered by Poetry Forge, taught by Holly Wren Spaulding.


a process

& good company

that honors the work & your place in it

December 21 Day Poetry Challenge

December 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.


“Light Without End, And Dark.” These words and concepts offer a starting point, a place to rest our gaze, and our readings and writing provocations will gently yield to a range of subjects, obsessions, and interpretations of the theme. What are your associations with the dark and with darkness? What does light evoke for you? We will hold our theme lightly in order to welcome whatever wants to be written during the month of December, as our days grow shorter, and darkness increases, and the year ends.


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, and approaching the world “as a poet” can lead to more words on the page, stronger craft, vibrant imagination, and a more vibrant connection to one's self and the world.


Participants receive original writing prompts (with three 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 brief daily reading, and specific suggestions for how to begin a piece of writing, or follow a poetic impulse through some other action in one’s day. In essence, this means that if you are not in the frame of mind to write on a given day, you can still participate by walking, researching, listening to a literary podcast, or doing some other complementary activity, with intention.


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. Recent challenges have included selections from Sarah Gambito, Tina Chang, 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. We read new poems and new poets each session so the content never repeats. Many participants elect to do the 21 day poetry challenge as many as four times a year.


As we cross the threshold of a new season on the Winter Solstice (December 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. Thoughtful, handwritten notes are offered with the intention of helping you move the work forward. Holly and her teaching assistant, Poet and book artist Amber Edmondson, bring decades of experience to their critique of your work, and will offer craft guidance, line-edits, and reading suggestions, each 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 November 30. The course runs through the Winter Solstice, and is followed by a ten day period in which you are encouraged to work on your drafts, then submit three of them for feedback by December 31. You’ll receive your feedback in the mail at in January.


. . . 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.)


I made this course for 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