Pen 2 Paper: The Ones that Got Away April

Every year, Pen 2 Paper receives so many entries that we love, but that never make it to the finalist round. This year, we wanted to recognize some of those from 2017, so we present a monthly web feature: The Ones that Got Away. From January through October, P2P co-coordinators Susie and Laura will each post one of our favorite non-finalists from the 2017 contest. Enjoy!

All entries posted with permission, authors retain all rights.

April 30, 2018

Laura's Pick: excerpt from MENTAL HOSPITAL by Ross Robbins

Sometimes I have trouble with pieces in the prose-poetic mode, but I found this excerpt from Ross' book-length "MENTAL HOSPITAL" to be very accessible. What struck me was how he delivered reflections on weighty topics (being hospitalized, the meaning of a diagnosis, being in a community of others with mental illness with) with delicate, sometimes even whimsical language. The contrast is, by turns, unsettling, humorous, and stirring.

For more: Portland poet and painter Ross Robbins is the founder of the Bone Tax Press and Reading Series, which he curates with his husband, Clay. He is the author of the chapbooks ALL IN BLACK BLOOD MY LOVE WENT RIDING (Two Plum Press, 2014) and The Book of Definitions (Atomic Theory Micro Press, 2017). His full-length debut, THE THREE EPs, is due this May from Two Plum Press. His poems appear in The Bombay Gin, Hobart, Reality Beach, and Forklift, Ohio, among many other lovely publications. Visit Ross online at

Susie's Pick: Extra Time on Tests by Stanley Toledo

Although this short play was submitted to the fiction category, acquiring accommodations is a real problem for many students with disabilities. Extra Time on Tests didn't exactly end on a positive note, but it still had an important message. I found myself laughing at the stupid thoughts and reactions of the department chair to the student's request, but I love how the student is still able to stand up for herself. Stanley, thank you for spreading awareness about the challenges people with disabilities face when we have to overcome the prejudices of ignorant people in authoritative positions, and encouraging people with disabilities not to stand for it.

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