The Common Language Project


Poetry Competition & Public Reading

“No one sleeps in this room without

the dream of a common language”


The Premise

Born of a desire to bring the many members of the North Texas poetry community into conversation with each other, The Common Language Project places participants in the same room and turns them loose to dream. United by a list of shared words and confined only by the space of a page, the poems of the project weave a tapestry of radically divergent experiences that sing, simmer and singe. Together, these poems give us a place to come together, somewhere from which we can start, from which we can thrive.

Submission Guidelines

The Common Language Project opens for submission on March 1 and closes on March 31. Submission is open to poets in the North Texas area. Thirty winners will be selected for publication in an online anthology. Ten winners from that group will be invited to give a public reading of their winning poems in the last week of April.

On March 1, thirty keywords (known here as the Common Language) will be unveiled on this web page. For your entry:

  • All thirty keywords must be used.
  • The keywords may be used in any order but without changes in tense or form (for example, using “lustrous” instead of “luster” would not count toward the thirty keywords).
  • The poem must be no more than thirty lines in length.
  • Submit your entry as a .doc, .docx, or .txt file using size 12 Times New Roman, Arial, or Helvetica font via email to commonlanguage (at) writersgarret (dot) org.
  • Submissions will be presented to our judges anonymously. Please provide your name, the North Texas county in which you reside, and the title of your submission in your email, but please do not include your name anywhere in the text of your submission.
  • No multiple submissions. Only the first submission will be accepted.
  • You may not re-submit.

Submit to

The Common Language:

All thirty of the following words must be used in your submission. You may use the words in any order, but they must be used as they appear, without changes in tense or form.
































Fatima-Ayan Malika Hirsi

Fatima-Ayan Malika Hirsi is the founder of Dark Moon Poetry & Arts, a monthly series which spotlights the creative feminine and non-binary energies of North Texas. She can often be found on sidewalks using her typewriter to birth poems for strangers. She has been published in Entropy, The BoilerAnthropology Now!, Bearing the Mask, and elsewhere. Her work has been featured by WFAA, KERA, the Dallas Morning News, and others. Her chapbook, Moon Woman, is forthcoming from Thoughtcrime Press.

Joe Milazzo

Joe Milazzo is the author of the novel Crepuscule W/ Nellie (Jaded Ibis Press) and two collections of poetry: The Habiliments (Apostrophe Books) and the forthcoming Of All Places In This Place Of All Places. He co-edits the online interdisciplinary arts journal [out of nothing], is a Contributing Editor at Entropy, curates the Other People’s Poetry reading series, and is also the proprietor of Imipolex Press. He has taught creative writing (multiple genres) at Southern Methodist University, the University of Texas at Dallas, Writing Workshops Dallas, and The Writer’s Garret. Joe lives and works in Dallas, TX, where he was born and raised.

B. Randall

B. Randall is an author, director, host, poet, producer, and visionary. She serves as host of Poetry Smash at The Black Academy of Arts and Letters, of Verse & Rhythm at the Oak Cliff Cultural Center, and of In The Words Of A Sistah, the longest-running all-female poetry show of its kind. In 2012, Randall launched her first touring show, Poetry Is My Praise, an inspirational, motivational, and spiritual poetry show. Randall is writer, producer, and director of A Poet’s Tribute to Nina, a fusion of the work of Nina Simone with the writings and poetry of the artist Lynn Lyric. She was commissioned by the Multicultural Alumni Association of Texas A&M Commerce to pen a poem commemorating the 50th anniversary of desegregation and was invited to perform at the National Day of Prayer Luncheon celebrating 40 years. Her recorded work has been featured at 500X Gallery. Currently, Randall serves on the board of directors for WordSpace.