ROUND TWO: 12-amorphous vs. 4-control

[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 Jeanne Poland

Visible vapor from a plane:
Amorphous mysteries.
Skyward clouds that swirl and twine –
As God’s polyphonies.

We reply, from far below,
Elliptic wanderings;
And all comes clear, in music’s call,
The soul’s meanderings.


by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater

A star nosed mole cannot control
the fact she needs to dig a hole.
She feels it in her furry soul.
Tunnel, Small One. That’s your role.
And so she waits for worms to fall
through earthen ceiling, dirt-pressed wall.
She paralyzes one and all.
Dig. Kill. Dig. She hears the call.



12-amorphous vs. 4-control: Which Poem Did You Prefer?

  • 12-amorphous (Jeanne Poland) (17%, 19 Votes)
  • 4-control (Amy Ludwig VanDerwater) (83%, 95 Votes)

Total Voters: 114

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GET OUT THE VOTE. The average pairing in Round 1 generated 154 votes. For Round 2, our goal is to DOUBLE the average vote total for all matchups compared to Round 1 … that’s 300+ votes! Use the share buttons below and mention the madness wherever you go so that these poems reach more kids!

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  • Stephanie Farrow

    Oh, my. These will be a challenge. Good luck to you both!

  • Greg Pincus

    Amorphous seemed like the hardest word in the round to me, but what a lovely way to use it! And I really dig Amy’s mole, too. Another duo of fine, fine work!

    • Susan Taylor Brown

      I agree, Greg. Amorphous was a hard one but Jeanne, you did a grand job with it. Amy, you had me rooting for your mole. Tough call here.

  • jone

    I can’t imagine getting amorphous, yikes. Great job on both poems. Amy, the star-nosed mole…I love the image. Maybe it needs to meet capybara for tea, honeyed of course.

  • Amy LV

    Jone! How did you know? I wrote about the mole for you, in honor of your dear lunching capybara! Unfortunately, moles are insectivores…I so wanted them to be rodents, but my science teacher husband says, alas, no.

  • Renee LaTulippe

    Excellent match-up. So much beautiful language here!

  • Melinda Harvey

    Both beautiful! Amazing sculpture with your words!

  • Amy LV

    Jeanne – I am flying tomorrow, and I will be thinking about the trail of mystery we leave behind. Your language is so lovely – I stand in awe of wanderings/meanderings. a.

  • April Halprin Wayland

    I WILL NOT VOTE between these two! I cannot. These are both soooo amazing. I am paralyzed with awe and delight.

  • Heidi Mordhorst

    Yes, some of the best offerings. Jeanne, yours sounds like–demands to be–set to music and published in a hymnbook. Amy, yours gets inside the mole and shocks us a little with the juxtaposition of Small [furry] One and Dig. Kill. Dig. Cool.

  • Donna Smith

    Amorphous has a nicely flowing poem wrapped around it. And the picture of that monstrous mole is killer!

  • Pam

    There is so much to learn from both of these poems! Jeanne, there is so much beauty in your words! Amy, what can I say. Your topic on control and instinctive behavior, so much to learn on this page, ladies. Thank you!

  • Hannah Ruth Wilde

    I am with April – there was NO WAY TO CHOOSE on these two. I was STUNNED here.

  • Dom D

    Read. Read. Pause…
    “Dig. Kill. Dig.”
    Think, Kid. Think.
    Read. Read. Vote.
    Pause. Write. Praise.
    Wow, Kids. Wow.

  • Mary Lee

    Love it that both a capybara and a star-nosed mole have made appearances in this tourney.

    Can I give a bonus vote to Dom D.’s comment poem (above)?? Nice!!

  • Amy Ludwig VanDerwater

    Thank you, everybody, for the kind words on our poems here! And Dom…whoa!

  • Jeanne Poland

    Dear friends:
    I admit I was jealous of the winner Mole, but now that I read the 16 comments, I’m smiling. I will add all these to my Simple Text notes to treasure them along with all the delightful renderings I have archived so far. I have been so inflamed with this teamwork and look forward to the child growth it promotes. My 3 year old grandchild wrote her first poem:On Off
    On off
    Jeanne Poland

  • Amy Ludwig VanDerwater

    Jeanne, That is adorable! I’m sure you’ve already jotted it in a notebook. And well, published it too…here! Thank you again for the good fun. My friend Katie and my husband are fans of your poem! a.

  • Jeanne Poland

    Now I’m off to study all the comments under each pairing! Who knew how touching they could be!
    In the last 24 hours I was scolded and complimented on Facebook. My opponent, a, asked to be a friend! And there you are, at Columbia Teacher’s, near to where I taught art and literature for 33 years.
    You might want to see the latest poem:

  • Jeanne Poland

    Dear a;
    You have me crawling through my Facebook page, and finding my profile that hasn’t been changed in a year. Fortunately, the programmers at WordPress are busy posting all my videos, poems and friends
    on facebook for me.
    No need to catch-up. The e-mail program still presents them to me in Jeanne-time.
    Miles of smiles on my face these days.