Prompts are Hard

Does anybody else have performance anxiety about very specific calls for submission? I want to do this Glosas for P.K. Page thing (full call reposted below) but, every time I set myself up to craft a brilliant submission to any of these themed anthologies, I find myself drawing a blank. It likely doesn’t help in this case that the glosa form, though beautiful, is intricately specific in its constraints and can feel, when one is doing it poorly, like filling out a passport application.

Anyway, I’ll keep working on it, but I’m 0 for 2 in recent attempts at even managing to submit anything for themed anthologies that I thought would be worth participating in (the previous duo being Matrix‘s Drinking issue and Ferno/TERU’s sublime little “Dinosaur Porn” antho). But I’ll keep working at it. A Page tribute book, published by her home press, is a worthy cause. It’s somewhat ironic that, as someone who tends to write thematically linked poems when left to his own designs, this kind of assignment is difficult. I guess this is the difference between trying to engage with your own, organically constructed, creative concerns, and going out to meet someone else’s. But it’s good for you, I think, to at least try. And I’m trying. Now, what rhymes with “Byzantine”…?


Call: Glosas for Page Anthology
In remembrance of the late P.K. Page (1916-2010), one of Canada’s most celebrated poets, you are invited to submit to an anthology of glosas in her honour. The glosa form originated in the late to early fifteenth century Spanish courts (Braid 88), but it remained largely unknown in English-speaking Canada until Page took it up, especially in her Hologram (1994) and in one of her last books, Coal and Roses (2009). A short description of the form can be found below.

The form, as Page notes in her introduction to Hologram, is particularly well-suited to homage, and she might have added commemoration. In that spirit, you are invited to submit up to three glosas for possible inclusion in an anthology to be edited by poet, reviewer and critic, Jesse Patrick Ferguson. The anthology is tentatively accepted for publication with The Porcupine’s Quill, a press that has done much to promote Page’s work in recent years (including with the collection The Essential P.K. Page, 2008).

The particulars:
Who/how: Canadian poets are invited to send up to three glosas in either .doc or .rtf format attachments to the following email address: Please include a brief (50-100 word) biography and full contact details in the attached file, as well as in the body of the email.

What: unpublished glosas will be given preference, though published ones will be considered. In the case of published work, please include copyright information, as well as a statement of permission to reprint the glosa. As for subject matter, the glosas need not incorporate lines from Page’s poetry or explicitly address her legacy. Ideally, the finished anthology would contain a diversity of subject matter, including poems that directly engage Page and her work but also poems on unrelated subjects. Experimentation with the form is also acceptable, but glosas that are recognizable as such will be given preference.

Payment: contributors will receive one copy of the published anthology.

Deadline: Canada Day 2010. Only poets whose work is accepted will be notified.

Questions can be directed to me at, but please forward the poems to

Glosa form: (adapted from In Fine Form: The Canadian Book of Form Poetry, eds. Kate Braid and Sandy Shreve, 2005). Stanzas: an opening quatrain from another poet, plus four 10-line stanzas. Metre: no set metre or syllable count [though often approximating the form of the source poem]. Rhyme: lines 6, 9 and 10 of each of the four stanzas are end-rhymed. Repetition: each line of the opening (source) quatrain reappears once, in order, to close each of the other four stanzas (i.e. line 1 of the quatrain is also line 10 of the first stanza, and so on).

Explore posts in the same categories: Calls for Submission, Canadian Literature, Poems in the Wider World


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3 Comments on “Prompts are Hard”

  1. Mark Says:

    I know exactly what you mean, Jake. I’ve been busting my chops trying to come up with a good “jackpine sonnet” for Geist magazine’s contest, also due July 1st. I’ve heard some poets say that they’ll have whatever they’ve written for these submission calls rejected only to end up placing the work elsewhere. This is the best sort of consolation prize, I guess.

  2. Brian Palmu Says:

    whiz ‘n’ lean

  3. voxpopulism Says:

    I forgot all about that Jackpine sonnet thing. For the best, I guess. I can really only focus on 1 of these at a time, if that.

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