REGIONAL SEMIFINALS: 11-scuttle vs. 7-heft

[click image to view matchup in full screen in a new window.]

The Poets’ Challenge: Each poet is assigned a single word based on their bracket seed, ranging from 1 (intuitive) to 16 (seemingly impossible). Poets must write a kid-appropriate poem using the prompted word in under 36 hours. Once both final poems have been received, they will be pasted into the body of this post, and then the reader poll will be open for voting.

Voter Instructions: Read each poem as many times as you’d like. Then use the poll to express your preference. Votes are counted in real time and cannot be changed once entered. As a guideline for voting, consider the criteria on which the contestants on the cooking show “Chopped” are evaluated: presentation, taste, and creativity. Translated roughly into poetry terms, presentation might include technical aspects such as meter, rhyme, form/shape, etc.; taste might be the net effect — did the poem move you to laugh, cry, think, kill, etc.; and creativity might include the poet’s approach toward a certain subject, image evocation, clever wordplay, etc.

“This is awesome, where can I find more?”: All results and scheduled matchups, including a glance at the round-by-round writing windows and voting windows, are visible from the Live Scoreboard page. In addition, results will be tweeted from @edecaria as they become final.

Here are the poems:

by Mary Lee Hahn

I was the last one to leave.
The wind broke my will.
The cold was bitter. I was brittle.
I remember the skitter and scuttle
across the crust of the snow.
Days are longer now, wedged here in the ivy.
In the damp, I’m decomposing.
A daffodil drilled right through my middle.
All winter I dreamed
I’d banner a branch again come spring.
Now my destiny 
is organic energy.
Instead of aiming for the sky
my lot 
is to rot.


by Julie Larios

Nest-chirp, feather-float,
lamb-laugh, wind-waft.

Lake-lap, night-smile,
flame-call, star-breeze.

Leaf-lift, mower-bite,
shovel-lug, hammer-heft.

Sky-scowl, snow-show,
sled-slip, face-freeze.



11-scuttle vs. 7-heft: Which Poem Did You Prefer?

  • 11-scuttle (Mary Lee Hahn) (76%, 166 Votes)
  • 7-heft (Julie Larios) (24%, 51 Votes)

Total Voters: 217

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GET OUT THE VOTE. The average pairing in Round 1 generated 154 votes. The average pairing in Round 2 generated 178 votes. Use the share buttons below and mention the madness wherever you go so that these poems reach more kids! And remember, encourage voting on EVERY MATCHUP, not just this one!

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  • jone

    Wow! What a match up! Good luck to you both!

  • Kathryn Apel

    Looking forward to seeing your beautiful words, ladies.

  • Quinette Cook

    Can we trade words? I’ll give you “languish” for either one or both!

  • Mary Lee

    Change of seasons in both poems! Amazing how the pairs wind up “talking” to each other!

    • Julie Larios

      Isn’t it true, Mary Lee? It’s almost uncanny!

  • Quinette Cook

    Well done. These were both wonderfully crafted poems with so much amazing texture, but using very different styles. I had to read them over and over before deciding how to vote. Good luck to both of you!

    • Julie Larios

      Thanks, Quinette! I’ve loved both your poems so far – especially that little hummingbird. Good luck in Round 3.

  • Stephanie Farrow

    Isn’t it nice to have fewer poems now? It’s easier to take the time to read them over and over.

    • April Halprin Wayland

      I have to agree, Stephanie. Gives me more quiet around the margins of each poem.

  • Susan Taylor Brown

    I think Mary Lee should be forced to remove the word amateur from her bio. I also think she has the beginnings of a nature collection.

    • Mary Lee

      Susan, Jone, and Robyn, I’m forever correcting my fourth graders when they say they can’t do something. I make them amend that to: “I can’t do it YET.”

      It doesn’t seem to be showing above, but I’ve changed my profile to read, “Not a professional poet…yet.” :-)

      Thanks for all the kind words!

      • Susan Taylor Brown

        Love it, Mary Lee! Good for you.

    • Renee LaTulippe

      Here, here, Susan! I’ve loved every word she’s put in this contest.

    • April Halprin Wayland

      Oh, my, Susan–you are SO right. On both counts.

  • jone

    Both filled my heart about the seasons. I would agree with Susan, Mary Lee.

  • Robyn Hood Black

    These are both wonderful. And I second Susan’s suggestion re. the removal of the word “amateur” in Mary Lee’s bio. ;0)

    • Quinette Cook

      I like to use the the term pre-published.

  • Stephanie Parsley

    Holy cow. I’m going to have to come back to these and reread them before I’m able to vote. Tough, tough match here! Two wonderful poems.

  • Janet Wong

    I, too, am going to have to let these poems sink in before I vote, which I will do–I promise–before the deadline tomorrow. What a match-up! I think we need overtime to settle this one.

  • Stephanie Farrow

    “feather float” “wind waft” I love this! The image in my mind is so clear.

  • Allan Wolf

    How interesting that these two poems are both seasonal. Julie’s use of Kennings would make for a great poetry prompt for young (and old) writers. I’m gonna steal that idea right now. See there, how I just tucked it into my pocket?

  • Stephanie Farrow

    bitter-brittle:skitter-scuttle. Great juxtaposition. Plus, they’re great words in and of themselves.

  • Patricia Nozell

    Loved the seasonality in both poems!

  • Renee LaTulippe

    Oh my my my my my. Thumb twiddle, thumb twiddle, thumb twiddle. Knew this match-up would be good. Back later. :)

  • Greg Pincus

    I’m bummed. I looked at these earlier and couldn’t decide how to pick only one. So I went on and about my day, came back and looked at them again. And I can’t figure out how to pick just one. I’m just gonna have to lather, rinse, repeat the rest of the day, looks like. Well done!

    • April Halprin Wayland

      Lather, rinse, repeat? You crack me up, G.

  • Amy Ludwig VanDerwater

    Gorgeous! Julie – we have sheep, and your “lamb laugh” really got me. Mary Lee – the “daffodil drilled right through my middle” is wow. I have noticed that, never wrote about it. These can go into the same book!

    • Julie Larios

      Oh, Amy, how I’d love to be able to say “We have sheep.” I lived near a field of sheep once during a long visit to Shropshire – they would come to see me at the fence when I visited, and that’s where I heard the lambs “laugh.”

  • Dom D

    It happened again! It is just amazing that the inspiration for both poets drew them to write for the same theme. It’s becoming pretty creepy… Well done by both!

  • Julie Larios

    A former student just sent me an email that says this tournament sounds like a mini-version of The Hunger Games – poets duking it out, rising to victory or falling in defeat, until one bruised and battered poet emerges victorious! Ouch!

    • Ed DeCaria

      a mini-version of The Hunger Games

      I’m definitely using this to promote Madness! 2013.

  • Pam

    Julie, your description of this event is poetry! So, how to choose, how to choose…

    The titles alone are wonderful. Okay, I’ve thought about and thought about it. Here goes my vote!

  • Eric A. Talla

    “Kennings” lives up to it’s name. Although, I admit, this old Norwegian cheated and looked up the word.

    I enjoyed a poem that I can understand, with the humorous final five se-la-bles. “my lot is to rot”. I would like to re-do fourth grade with Mary Lee Hahn as my teacher. She connects!

    • Julie Larios

      Eric, I knew people might have to look up the word “kennings,” but I didn’t think of that as cheating!! In fact, I like to think of people working a little when it comes to poetry, and I love those compound words acting like the tiniest of riddles. It was fun, putting them together.

      You’re right about Mary Lee’s ending – great control of sound (which was true of her Round 1 & 2 poems, too.

  • Tabatha

    Both of these are terrific! My hat is off to you!

  • Sally Odgers

    These were both clever pieces, but in the end I went for the one that told more story. Loved the lamb laugh in the other one, though.

  • Rae Zicht

    Well done dolly. Looking forward to more!

  • Julie Larios

    Congratulations, Mary Lee! You “scuttle”-ed me! Onward to victory now – your Flight One Team is behind you all the way.

  • Michele Krueger

    Mary-Lee, beautiful! Your oak leaf is always welcome in my compost pile! Julie, I enjoyed all of your poems.

  • Mary Lee

    Thank you, Julie! I promise to keep doing my very best…and to keep having FUN!