ROUND ONE: 1-sag vs. 16-recidivist


Click here for authlete instructions.

Voter Instructions:

  • The countdown at the bottom of each pairing indicates how much time is left to vote.
    • When voting closes, timer will disappear.
  • Read both poems as many times as you’d like.
  • Mark the poem you like best by clicking the circle next to its name.
  • Press the “Vote” button to record your vote.
  • Votes are counted in real time and cannot be changed once entered.
  • In the Public Vote, anyone may vote, but only one vote is allowed per IP address.
  • In the Classroom Vote, you must be registered and logged in to vote.
    • Official voting classrooms should read and discuss each poem and then submit one vote as a class.
    • Students can then vote again individually from home.
  • In the Authlete Vote, you must be a 2015 authlete and logged in to vote.

Things to Consider in Making a Choice:

  • How well the poem incorporates the authlete’s assigned word, given its level of difficulty.
  • Whether or not the poem adheres to the poem requirements for the contest.
  • Precision: structure, meter, rhyme, syntax, etc.
  • Personality: creative imagery, language, metaphor, etc.
  • Power: makes you laugh, cry, want, sigh, think, dream, wince, scream, etc.
  • Plus One: it is a poem you feel drawn to share with another person for whatever reason.

Apply your own criteria as well! For more on the above concepts, check out POEMETRICS™.

Here are the poems:


1-sag what does it mean?
By Kathryn D. Harrison

I was on a rope bridge (whew!)
that had just e
begun to sag, e
and I knew that e
I had something e
super heavy e
in my bag, e
so I reached inside, e
and took it out, e
and dropped it e
to the ground. W

(Now I’m looking for my bowling ball. Description: black and round.)



16-recidivist what does it mean?
The Over-Anxious Parent’s Lament
By Vikram Madan

Well… your Math is fairly feeble and your Language Arts are weak
And your Science needs improving twice as much as Ancient Greek!
And your Handwriting is sloppy, while your Diction makes us flinch…
And each time we try to lecture you, you doze off in a pinch!

You don’t *ever* do your homework – and you barely seem to care
Your recidivist work habits simply fill us with despair…
Here we’re prepping you for college – but you’d rather play or snooze???
Yes, we know you’re just a Baby, but – gee! – that is NO EXCUSE!!!


Public Vote (1-sag vs. 16-recidivist)
Final Results:
1-sag vs. 16-recidivist

Authlete Vote (ID Required)
Final Results:
1-sag vs. 16-recidivist
Classroom Vote (ID Required)
Final Results:
1-sag vs. 16-recidivist

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  • Debra Shumaker

    Great poem Linda! I love the punchline. Good luck to you!

  • lillpluta

    Good job you two! I like Linda’s title and Debra’s punchline!

  • rjschechter

    These two are both quite fine. I think Vikram’s could have beaten many of the other Round 1 poems, but Kathryn’s brilliant concrete layout combined with well chosen words will likely give her the edge..

  • Vikram Madan

    Nicely done, Kathryn!

    • Kathryn Harrison

      Thanks Vikram! Yours is just terrific meter and it has great bounce & flow and I like the punchline – I was wondering what path “recidivist” might lead you down :)

      • Vikram Madan

        I don’t know about bouncy, but the path was definitely a bumpy one :)

  • Ed DeCaria

    I think, generally, we’ll have to reexamine the rules around concretes in the future, potentially starting in Round 2 this year. It took me about 45 extra minutes to get this to render properly on screen. If EVERYONE did that … the event would be impossible to manage. So, here’s what I’ll advise about this matchup: Make sure to read and enjoy both poems and evaluate them for their words as well as format. I think it is great to factor in Kathryn’s creativity (just as was the case with Vikram’s train wreck poem last year), but that should not be the only factor in your decision-making.

    Kathryn — brilliant!
    Vikram — fantastic!

    Thank you both for taking up the challenge so well …

    • Kathryn Harrison

      Ed, I’m SO sorry. Truly. I innocently assumed you’d be able to click center justified and all would be fine. Listen – this summer we’re doing a road trip from CO – maybe you can set aside some horribly mundane task and I’ll work at it for 45 minutes so we’ll be squaresies? :) Grout, maybe?

      • Ed DeCaria

        Seriously, don’t worry about it. I specifically state in the instructions that custom spacing is okay, but I think going forward I will specify more clearly that occasional, simple custom indentations are okay, but that full on concretes are not.

        Then again, your poem is super fun to look at, and why take that away from the people? :)

        For now, enjoy it, and good luck to both you and Vikram in the voting!


        • Josh Close

          So not that I’d do it again, Ed – but would that include my squirrel poem from last year? It isn’t a concrete poem, I just played with the format to help the meter. I mean, that’s the only poem I’ve written like that.

          I do know how difficult it is to format a concrete poem – I have one shaped like a butterfly on my website… looks much better in its original form in microsoft word, but I spent more time on it then.

          • Ed DeCaria

            Yes, I specifically recall that one being a pain in the ace. The trouble is you need to apply custom CSS margins on each line, or in the case of the above, an indent margin and then another spacer between the two sections. Can’t just hold down the spacebar 75 times …

            That said — it’s worth it to get a better poem up. For me, it’s more of a question of fairness. Even if they’d never admit it, does the authlete whose opponent gets a custom formatted poem feel cheated for not getting the same level of “attention”?

            • Josh Close

              I will admit, I was drawn to Kathryns poem here by the format – however, the content of the poem – idea and punchline – were great and could have stood alone fine even without the format I think.

            • Samuel Kent

              Ed: consider a “pre” html tag, or non-breaking spaces, or a {whitespace:pre} css rule on the block.

    • Vikram Madan

      No, Thank YOU Ed for all the effort you’re putting into making this such a great and fun tournament :)

  • Lori Degman

    This was a hard one – both are so good!

  • Michelle Heidenrich Barnes

    Oooh, this is HARD – how I wish you both could move on! I’ll have to come back to this one. Brava Kathryn! Bravo Vikram!

  • Joseph Miller

    Both of you did an excellent job, very tough choice.

  • Renee LaTulippe

    Hi, Vikram! Long time, no see! You’ve got yourself in a tough matchup, here, haven’t you? :) Wonderful bounce and kid appeal as always – well done! And Kathryn, of course I love your concrete format — but I like your punchline even better. The poem stands on its own with or without the fancy spacing. Brava! Tough choice.

    • Samuel Kent

      Look, Renee! It’s SPROING again!

      • Renee LaTulippe

        I know! What are the odds of two sproings in one round? Sproings are springing up all over!

        • Kathryn Harrison

          :) I’d love to know those odds! “Poet – metrics” = if the # of poets in
          a given space increases by the factor of (x), onomatopoeia, lyrical language
          and inadvertent alliteration will also increase by…?

    • Vikram Madan

      Hi Renee … yes it’s a tough matchup for sure – but that’s what makes it fun :)

  • Debra Shumaker

    These are FANTASTIC! I truly wish I didn’t have to pick just one. . . .

  • Marcus Ewert

    Really excellent work, both of you.

  • Tee

    THIS was an impossible choice. WELL DONE, BOTH.

  • Jackie

    I loved both but for me (and it might be my accent) snooze doesn’t really rhyme with excuse (the noun).

    • Vikram Madan

      Interesting. It might not be your accent, it’s probably mine (from having grown up in India) I was unaware that there can be a subtle pronunciation difference between the verb form of ‘excuse’ and the noun form of ‘excuse’ – learn something every day :)

      • Jackie

        Well there you go – yes excuse, the noun, rhymes with moose. Excuse, the verb, rhymes with snooze – ah the English language!

        • Vikram Madan

          Guess I’ll just have to be even more mindful about trying to write poetry in a 2nd language :)

  • Ed DeCaria

    And so it is. Congrats to both of you. Clearly strong support on all fronts for both of you. Kathryn just had the magic touch this time.

  • Kathryn Harrison

    Thanks to everyone for viewing and voting! Vikram’s poem was really great & had me waiting anxiously to see the authlete and classroom results. Thanks for the strong match-up.

    • Vikram Madan

      Second that :) Good luck, Kathryn – I will be rooting for you. Do us proud :)