The Common Language Project: Transformation



Poetry Competition, Anthology, & 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.

Now in its second year, The Common Language Project invites you to re-enter this shared and sacred space and give testimony to a transformation. Spin for us a story of strange and dramatic alteration: a change in a body, in a world, in a heart or a mind. Growth or decline, mutation or metamorphosis, confusion or clarity–we want to hear about a transformation that sheds light on the uncharted and unknown. 

Submission Guidelines

The Common Language Project: Transformation opens for submission on March 1, 2019, and closes on March 31, 2019. 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 in a prominent Dallas arts venue.

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” or “smile” instead of “smiling” would not count toward the thirty keywords). Changes in capitalization are fine.
  • The poem must be no more than thirty lines of text in length (excludes title).
  • Submissions will be presented to our judges anonymously. Please do not include your name anywhere in the text of your submission document.
  • In the text of your email, please provide:
    • your name as you would like it to appear upon publication
    • a short bio (>100 words)
    • the North Texas county in which you reside
    • the title of your submission
  • 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.
  • No multiple submissions. Only the first submission will be accepted.
  • You may not re-submit without invitation.


Submit to

The Common Language

































2019 Judges

Will Evans

Will Evans is an award-winning publisher, writer, translator, bookstore owner, and literary arts advocate. He is the founder and executive director of Deep Vellum, a nonprofit literary arts organization dedicated to bringing the world into conversation through literature by publishing the world’s vital stories, and making our world a more literary place through creative programming and outspoken advocacy. He founded and owns Deep Vellum Books, a bookstore in Dallas’s historic Deep Ellum neighborhood. Evans graduated from Emory University with degrees in History and Russian Literature and received a Master’s degree in Russian Culture from Duke University. He co-founded the multimedia entertainment studio Cinestate and executive produced the films Brawl in Cell Block 99 and the reboot of the  Puppet Master franchise. His translation of popular Russian writer Oleg Kashin’s political satire novel, Fardwor, Russia! A Fantastical Tale of Life Under Putin, was published by Restless Books.

Darius Ajai Frasure

Professor Darius Ajai Frasure is a highly sought after, multi-award-winning educator, mentor, and consultant. He holds degrees from Paul Quinn College, Luther Rice Seminary, and National University. Through Assure Press Publishing & Consulting, LLC, he partners with literary arts and education organizations to mentor visual and performance artists, musicians and writers through publishing and consulting. His initiatives nurture the literary arts and education community, primarily in the Dallas–Fort Worth–Arlington metropolitan area, and have had international impact. Extended biographical information, partnerships, and engagement opportunities are available his company website,

Opalina Salas

Opalina Salas is a poet, a former Oak Cliff bookstore owner, an editor of femme lit zine Let It Bleed, and creator and host of Poets on X+ reading series, held in her beloved home of Oak Cliff, TX. She is a regular contributor to The Mad Swirl and was a featured performer at The Texas Beat Poetry Festival 2012, Forest Fest in Lamesa, TX, in 2011, and a participant in the first annual New Orleans Poetry Fest of 2016. Her poem was featured in CITY OF ________: DISPATCHES FROM 16 DALLAS POETS. She has been a performer for OPP: Other People’s Poetry and has featured at Pandora’s Box and Arte y Pan Dulce: A PoC Art Show. She is a host and co-conspirator for ATTACK OF THE POETS, an annual multi-day festival hosting poets from around the US, bridging the gaps between various literary communities far and wide. She has been writing and performing in and around the DFW area for twenty years with her comrade, partner, and fellow poet Carlos Salas and got her start at the legendary Club Clearview Dallas Poetry Slam. Her collection of work, Black Sparrow Dress, is forthcoming from Mad Swirl Press in spring of 2019.