ROUND TWO: 11-periphery vs. 3-topical

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 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.
  • You can only vote once from a given IP address.
    • Classrooms should submit one vote as a class.
    • Students can then vote again individually from home.

Things to Consider in Making a Choice:

  • How well the poem incorporates the authlete’s assigned word.
  • Technical elements: meter, rhyme, form, shape, and other poetic standards.
  • Creativity: wordplay, imagery, unusual approach, etc.
  • Subtle elements that make the whole greater than the sum of its parts.
  • Your overall response: emotional reaction such as admiration, tears, laughter, terror, or some indefinable feeling.

Here are the poems:

My Shadow
By Nessa Morris

No matter where I try to flee, it tiptoes my periphery.

Try to run? It slinks behind me.
Try to hide? It always finds me.

I stop and stare. I can’t resist. I give a glare. I pinch and twist.

Shadow screams.
Daddy reams.

“Hey, don’t pinch and twist her, mister! You’re supposed to love your sister!”


Poison Ivy
By Quinette Cook

Her friend told my friend and he told me,
“Meet Ivy behind the old oak tree.”

Two hours I waited, itching real bad.
It looks to me like I’ve been had.

“How could she do this?” I scream and shout.
“How can she be such a wicked lout?”

Slathering on the topical creams,
girls like her, are toxic it seems.


11-periphery vs. 3-topical: Which Poem Did You Prefer?

  • 11-periphery (Nessa Morris) (47%, 162 Votes)
  • 3-topical (Quinette Cook) (53%, 185 Votes)

Total Voters: 346

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“This is awesome, where can I find more?”:
Browse other matchups using the slider below and click to go straight to that matchup!

  • March Madness Kids' Poetry Tournament
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  • March Madness Kids' Poetry Tournament
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  • March Madness Kids' Poetry Tournament
  • March Madness Kids' Poetry Tournament
  • March Madness Kids' Poetry Tournament
  • March Madness Kids' Poetry Tournament

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  • KatApel

    Love the unexpectedness of the shadow poem – though I’ve never seen ‘reams’ used in that context. Poison Ivy is clever/witty too. I’m pondering this duo and will have to come back later to cast my vote. Both great, thanks, ladies!

  • Patricia Nozell

    Agree with Kat – both poems with terrific twists & witty takes on the words.

  • Nessa

    Thanks, ladies. I took poetic license with “reams.” Usually it’s “reams out” for scolding, but “Dad reams me out” just wouldn’t have sounded right in the poem :)

  • KatApel

    Wow! So it is. I’ve never heard of that before. (And nor did it come up when I googled ‘reams’. But google ‘reams out’ and there it is.)

  • Laura Shovan

    A little bit of bullying going on in both these poems. It’s amazing to see what similarities bubble up in this round’s paired poems.

  • Gloson Teh

    This battle is so cool! The “sister” one caught me unexpected and had me laughing. Great job, Nessa and Quinette!

  • Carrie Finison

    Wow, this is a close race! What a battle! Both of these have enormous kid-appeal, I think.

  • Michele Norman

    I love the rhythm of your poem Quinette — it rolls right off the tongue and Nessa, your poem made me laugh again…

  • Ed DeCaria

    I don’t see how this one isn’t going to go to the final minute. Both straight-up clever kids’ poems, essentially short stories in verse. I also find it interesting how both of these ladies wrote these particular poems from a boy’s point of view (at least I assumed Q’s was from a boy’s POV).

  • Penny Klostermann

    Oh! A close one with two poems kids will relate to.

  • Debbie LaCroix

    Neck and neck!

  • Quinette Cook

    Thank you everyone. Yes, Ed, it was from a boy’s POV. And I did challenge myself to write a story in 8 lines. I just got online – this is going to be a nail-biter. Yikes.

  • Robyn Hood Black

    Well, again, I’m going to have to force myself to vote so I can go see the score. Great job, ladies. I was also intrigued that both were written from a boy’s point of view. Loved the surprise element of “My Shadow.”

  • Damon Dean

    Great poems and like Carrie said kid appealing.
    Will have to debate my vote.
    But just itching to see the outcome.

  • Pauline Sparks

    So I’ve voted two hours ago after dithering for the previous two hours … and now I’ve come back to read them again and both are so good I can’t remember now which one I vote for!!!

  • Ed DeCaria

    Curious, in the poll image, do others see their selection in bold italics after voting? I do, and I assumed everyone did, but perhaps that’s only for registered users?

    Let me know …

  • Mary Lee

    I agree that both of these will have great kid-appeal!

  • laurasalas

    Great stories in verse! I don’t usually see reams without out in this context, but the meaning was definitely clear for me. Tough choice.

  • laurasalas

    No, I don’t see my selection after voting. I often can’t recall which one I voted for, either. I also haven’t quite figured out the Say Something To This Person function. When I click it, my message still looks to me like it shows up on the bottom. And I see other messages that appear that way, too. They seem to reply to a particular comment, but it’s not threaded or just below that comment or anything. Maybe I’m doing something wrong… (well, I’m sure I’m doing lots of things wrong, but I meant specifically with that button:>)

  • laurasalas

    I also can’t figure out why my picture doesn’t show up with my comments. I seem to be very bad at this site!

    • Ed DeCaria

      Laura, did you sign up for Gravatar? Your blog is WordPress, too, so I’m surprised it’s giving you problems, actually. If you sign up for Gravatar using the e-mail address that you enter while commenting, then your picture really should show up.

  • Damon Dean

    I do see the poems I voted for are bold…in the live scoreboard and on the matchup page.

  • Janet F.

    Mine shows up in bold, though I didn’t put it together that it was the poem I had voted for, until I read your comment. (Looking at this on the Live Scoreboard.) That helps. Because, like Laura, I often am agonizing over the choice and then figure, go for it and sometimes don’t recall what I finally chose. So this is good to know. Maybe I knew this last year and forgot. Didn’t go to the Gravatar site yet, either.

  • Alvaro

    both great poems. first internal struggle while voting during round 2. hmmm

  • juliekrantz

    Hey–these are a great pair! Both address a sort of hide-and-seek… can see them being discussed/compared in a poetry lesson!

  • Dave Crawley

    Another nailbaiter. Too bad they both can’t win…

  • Quinette Cook

    I’m thinking all the baked goods being discussed in other posts should go to Nessa and me for delivering all this “madness.”

  • Nessa

    Ooh, I’m so with you, Quinette. We get dibs on any and all baked goods discussed.

  • Quinette Cook

    Princess Nessa,
    Thank you for an outstanding (and exhausting) match-up. Your two poems, reflecting real-life sibling rivalry, touched everyone. Best wishes in all your writing adventures.
    A fan, Q

  • Nessa Morris

    Thanks, Queen Quinette. (I must bow down to you as the champion of this round.)

    It’s funny. My poetry has made me wonder if I’m having issues my kids right now. I noticed both of my poems end with a parent yelling at the kid. I wonder if that trend would have continued had I gone on to the next round. Guess we’ll have to find out next year.

    Good luck, can’t wait to see the rest of your March Madness poems.

  • Quinette Cook

    I hear you, kids = Issues. (And often great writing material.) Good luck with both. ;)

  • Nessa Morris

    Issues is definitely an understatement. I was considering dropping out of MMPoetry because my son got sick this weekend. Have to say I’m pretty proud of my poem considering it was written on little sleep and in between throw-ups. I ended up taking him to the emergency room Sunday night because he got so dehydrated. Thankfully, he seems much, much better today.

    Good luck, again!

  • Renee LaTulippe (@ReneeMLaTulippe)

    Great match-up, ladies. Congrats to Quinette – see you in the Sweet Sixteen!

  • Michel Krueger

    Praise you, Nessa, for attending to your son, and still focusing on your craft.

  • Nessa Morris

    Thanks, Michel. Actually, now that I think about it, the poem probably turned out better because of my son being sick. Since I was with him all day, he’d hear me reciting aloud as I wrote and give me his two cents worth. Poor little guy. He must’ve heard different variations of the poem a hundred times, but he never complained.