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.

Anthology Winners

We are happy to announce the thirty winners of the Common Language Project: Transformation! These winners will have their poems featured in this year's anthology collected here!

Congratulations to the following poets:

Lorlee Bartos
James Bascom
Sandra Martin Benton
Bonnie Jamison Blackman
Eve Castle
Dan Collins
Alexandra Corinth
Steven Duncan
Patricia DeVilliers

Alan Gann
Michael Helsem
Christine Irving
Paul Koniecki
Debra Levy-Fritts
Kari Lynch
Joe Milazzo
Sherry Lou Mills
Linley Munson

Mz. Jolie
Madhuri Nagaraj
Mark David Noble
Gayle Reaves-King
Isabella Russell-Ides
Valentina Saldaña
Alexis Diano Sikorski
Christopher Stephen Soden
Carol Stowe
Ruth Woolson


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.

will evans
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,

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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.

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