Madness! Poetry Preview: 14-flibbertigibbet vs. 3-crunch

EDIT: Since visitors of Think Kid, Think! are having so much fun voting, I’m resurrecting this matchup to give people a chance to read two more poems (I’m not just a webmaster, I write poetry too!) and cast their vote for either The Flibbertigibbet by me or Fast Fasting by my alter-ego, Charles Mund. Enjoy!

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

Here are the poems:

14-flibbertigibbet (Ed DeCaria)
The Flibbertigibbet
by Ed DeCaria

I admit I’m a bit of a flibbertigibbet:
I swallowed a frogleg and started to ribbet!
You wouldn’t
            You couldn’t
                        You shouldn’t prohibit so silly and flighty and fun an exhibit.


3-crunch (Charles Mund)
Fast Fasting
by Charles Mund

My fast was a mental and physical crunch:
I’m proud I ate nothing* from breakfast ’til lunch.


*Except brunch.


14-flibbertigibbet vs. 3-crunch: Which Poem Did You Prefer?

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Get ready for madness! This post is an example of what is to come during the Madness! 2012 kids’ poetry tournament, which begins with my unveiling of the brackets in a video post on Sunday night. Don’t miss it!

I welcome all feedback on the structure and content of this post (especially the poems!). Can you read the matchup? Do you understand what the poets are being asked to do? Does the poll work as you expect? Can you see the countdown? Please be honest with your feedback, because once this thing kicks off with 32 overlapping matchups between Monday and Tuesday, there will be no time for tweaking!

As a reminder, here is the challenge:

Each poet is assigned a single word based on their bracket seed, ranging from 1 (intuitive) to 16 (seemingly impossible). Poets have only 36 hours to complete their prompted poem. 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.


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  • Dana

    Ed, I’m very excited to share this event with teachers and students! I could read the matchup, I think I get what the poets are being asked to do (write a poem off of a word you provide and within a time crunch), the poll worked for me, and I could see the countdown. Some possible clarifications: Will be a new poem each day? Which dates in March will the poems appear again? How will the results of the votes be communicated? Will you have a march madness graphic that displays the bracket winners? How often will it be updated?

    • Ed DeCaria

      Thanks for the quick feedback, Dana! I will have a separate Madness 2012 page available from the top menu bar that will better explain the full set of rules and tournament mechanics.

      Short answers:

      • 16 matchups will kickoff on Monday, and another 16 on Tuesday. That means voting will take place Wednesday through Friday. I will explain it better on the aforementioned menu page.
      • There will be six rounds, with each of the first four rounds stagger-started over two days.
      • I will also post a live scoreboard where all results can be seen in one place at one time.
      • On Sunday, I will display the bracket graphic in a video and then post the image prominently. As results come in (at the end of each day), I will update the graphic to show which poets have moved on and who they will face in the next round.

      Does that help?

      Oh, and yes! Share the homepage link with everyone you know! I will make it easy to access the tournament specific pages, so just point them to



  • Dana

    Thanks for the clarification. It makes sense and I think it will all be very clear (for teachers who need things quick and easy because they are so busy) once the separate Madness 2012 page is available and things are live. Thank you for putting this all together! Looking forward to reading the poems.

  • April Halprin Wayland

    Hey, Ed! Lookin’ forward to it. I’m working out in the gym to get ready.
    My comment: let the voters know the parameters (i.e. 8 lines maximum). I didn’t see that explained on this page.

    See you in Ed Stadium!

  • Kathryn Apel

    I’m thinking this makes sense. Ed, my question would be… how long does a poet have to work with the inspiration? Because I’ll be writing from Australia, and traditionally, I’ll be sleeping when you guys are writing. I’m just hoping there’s enough time for me to do both. :)

  • Dom D

    Ed, this looks great. Agree with Dana that the schedule will need clarity. We’ll be sharing this with some teachers and see if we can bring the 126 new poems to some people that could really use them. Nice job!

  • Katya

    Ed, I think this looks great.
    I could see the poll and the countdown on Chrome, Safari, and Opera.
    I voted on Chrome and the voting worked exactly as I would have expected. I liked being able to see the running tally right away.

  • Patricia Nozell

    Ed, this worked for me! I’ll be writing from London next week, with a bit of an internet challenge – so similar issues to Kathryn. I should be awake for most of the same times as those in the US, though, especially as I plan to take full advantage of free Wifi @ Starbucks! Oh, and the tweet link worked great!

  • jone

    Worked for me, Ed. Should be fun, scary, but fun.

  • Ed DeCaria

    Not scary! Remember two things: 1) if you cannot quite finish within 36 hours, you can still keep working until you are done. It just costs you a vote per hour delay. 2) there’s a little something fun in it for the non-winners, too. This will be explained in the rules page once I put it up.

  • Matt Forrest Esenwine

    Makes senes to me, Ed…great idea! Just hoping I find the time to get these done! (btw, loved ‘Flibbertigibbet!’)

  • Ed DeCaria

    I am really kicking Charles’ a$$ here. Back to the widget factory you go, Mr. Mund …

  • Joy Acey

    I feel like Dicky Vitale–I’m so excited. WooHoops! I think I get the picture. I’m waiting for the poetry rules and how we receive our words for tip off. I’ve read different line limits–seen both 5 and 8–and so some clarification will be needed.
    I’ll come back Sunday to Ed Arena (I love that)to see the brackets. You’ll provide the Electrifying Eddies (Cameron Crazies) right?
    P.S. I don’t talk trash on the court.


  • laurasalas

    No trash talk? Where’s the fun in that? I liked both poems, but don’t kick Mr. Mund out yet. I voted for him, and maybe there will be a comeback. You never know.

    I’ve had several school visits and unexpected travel come up since I signed up. Can’t wait to see the schedule so I know when I’ll have to flip my creative switch and come up with a poem, fast!

    Bring. It. On.

    • Robyn Hood Black

      I’m trying out the “Say Something to This Person” feature. Laura, I liked Mr. Mund, too, though we’re in the minority. I thought the asterisk with “brunch” was quite clever.

  • Linda

    Okay, I just looked at the list of poets, and I’m soooo out of my league. Oh well, I’ve embarrassed myself before, what’s one more time! : ) I hope I can figure out when it’s my turn to write. I’m not sure I totally understand the schedule. Maybe Sunday’s post will help.

    • Susan Taylor Brown

      Linda, Equally terrified here.

  • Renee LaTulippe

    LOVED Flibbertigibbit! This looks good to me, Ed, except for number of lines and how we get our words. I’m assuming these things will be clarified on Sunday. I’m in Italy and also have the time issue, but as I understand it, you won’t post the poems in a matchup until you receive both (meaning, it’s not a race to see who gets it in first)…so that should all work out.

    I can’t believe I’ve got butterflies for a poetry tournament! Laura Salas is psyching me out with her tough talk.

  • Jeanne Poland


    Every communication is

    Every communication is

    Every communication is

    Every communication is


    • Pam

      Hey I loved Fast Fasting. Maybe it’s because I’m always thinking of food. Anyway, it was my fav! I’m excited about this contest. This will be my first ever! I expect to learn a great deal! Thank you so much for this fun event!!

    • Pam

      Oops! Seems I replied in the wrong box. Jeanne, if this is any indication as to what we’re up against, Woe is me! This is GREAT! BTW, love the word, lickspittling!

  • Carmela Martino

    What a fun idea! I understand now, though at first I thought the paired contestants would be using the same word. Based on the example, that doesn’t appear to be the case.
    I wish all the participants good luck. Of course, I’ll be rooting for my co-blogger, April Halprin Wayland. :-)

    • Ed DeCaria

      That’s correct, Carmela.

      Assigning the same word would make it a different type of event altogether. While it would certainly be interesting to see how two poets handled the same word, it would really be more combative a contest than I had envisioned.

      Assigning different words of varying difficulty is an equalizer of sorts between participants of different backgrounds, skill, and experience. Each poet is challenged independently to a task, and we benefit from watching each do their thing. In the end, we still vote on which poem we prefer, but the event becomes more a celebration of effort and talent and resulting art than a direct judgment of the writers.

      Charles Mund still wrote a cool, compact poem using the word “crunch”. It’s just that my handling of the word “flibbertigibbet” resonated a bit better with readers for whatever reason. So I would move on, and Charles would not, but that does not make his poem an inferior one … just different.


      • Carmela Martino

        Sounds well-thought out, Ed, and FUN! Not an easy combination. :-)

  • Kathryn Apel

    Doh! I see it now. 36hrs. It was lost in the shadow of your poetry. :)

  • Mary Lee

    The resize looks great! (Your scroller widget on the entry page does the same thing to your profile…)

    I’m flexing my poetry muscles in preparation for the first round! EXCITEMENT!!!

    • Ed DeCaria

      Thanks, Mary Lee. I did reduce the slider on the homepage by 50px but sounds like I may need to reduce it further. I don’t want to shrink it too much, though; otherwise it looks goofy on full-sized browsers.

      • Dom D

        Have you considered a pop-up window for each matchup? Would seem to be easier to fix the size and layout you are looking for, without as much worry about the browsers, screen size, and your side frame features.

        • Ed DeCaria

          Yes, but it requires selectively hiding sidebars for each matchup, which is a bit tedious. I have not liked the “content-aware sidebar” widgets that I’ve found.

          I think the width of the center column is okay now, and people can click on the matchup image to see it in full screen if they wish.

  • Donna Martin

    Ed, I loved BOTH of your poems! Now I’m just crossing my fingers that I don’t go up against YOU in any of the rounds I might be in…lol…

    • Ed DeCaria

      Thanks for the compliment, Donna!

      I hope that each of the 126 poems developed during this event will elicit the same type of reaction!


  • Amy LV

    Both poems are so clever and such fun to read! I do hope we hear from Charles again! Thank you for bringing us all to the poetry court…

  • Heidi Mordhorst

    All systems go! I’d like to know how the words are being chosen and how they are assigned to the players. Is that info somewhere that I haven’t seen?

    I’m verb-loading in preparation for action…

    • Ed DeCaria

      The WORDS are being selected and seeded through “an extensive ideation, review, and rationalization process”.

      The participants are being assigned said words completely randomly.

  • Marianne Nielsen

    Ed, I am so thrilled to have gotten off the wait list and participate…thank you to whoever had to bow out :>) It looks like my brain gets the rules…one thing though I am unable to vote. Any thoughts???

    • Ed DeCaria

      Thanks for being an alternate; I figured we’d need a couple.

      RE: the voting, that particular poll was scheduled to close yesterday at 8pm. I suppose I can re-open it so that people can continue to see what it’s like to vote. I needed to close it for testing purposes, but I’ve now gotten the info I need. Either way, I don’t think that it was an error on your part.

  • Marianne Nielsen

    K thanks Ed….I’m ready to vote when it counts!

    I have changed my profile and included a link…do you need to do something to make it work on the list?

    • Ed DeCaria


  • Stephen W Cahill

    Loved the 1st rhyme Ed. It was ribbetting!

    My one question concerns time.. Besides having little to spare, I’m also zonally challenged, residing as I do in Grenwich Mean. Can you tell me which time zone we’re operating in?

    • Ed DeCaria

      All posted times are Central Daylight Time.

      I recognize that not everyone is +/- 1 hour from CDT.

      I don’t want to fudge with the randomized selection process, but once the brackets are generated and unveiled tonight, we can work out specific scheduling quirks for certain participants who live in UK or France or Italy or Australia.

      Not a big deal to have some of these start or end 8 hours early … whatever works for both participants in the pair, with some consideration for the voters (I don’t want a poll to close at 4am, so we can always extend the voting period to a more reasonable hour CDT).

      Bottom line: Don’t worry, I’ll take care of you!


  • Pam

    Hey I loved Fast Fasting. Maybe it’s because I’m always thinking of food. Anyway, it was my fav! I’m excited about this contest. This will be my first ever! I expect to learn a great deal! Thank you so much for this fun event!!

  • Susan Taylor Brown

    Do we have to watch a video every time to get the words? I would really hope to have the option to read what’s expected of me. I don’t catch everything with watching a video. My brain doesn’t work that way.

    • Susan Taylor Brown

      Whoops, forgot to mention that everything worked fine for me. Thanks for the opportunity!

    • Ed DeCaria

      No, definitely not. I need to make this clearer in the rules.

      Only one video planned, and that is tonight’s unveiling of the seeds and “path to the championship”. That is, you get to see who you are paired with in the first round and, should you move on, subsequent rounds. You will also find out if your matchup starts tomorrow or starts on Tuesday.

      No words will be revealed tonight, and no words will be revealed by video. Words will be revealed in a new post for each matchup, and perhaps in a private e-mail to each poet if that is desirable.

      • Susan Taylor Brown

        Thanks so much for the quick explanation. Really looking forward to it all.

      • Susan Taylor Brown

        Tried to watch the video, Ed but mp4 doesn’t play on my windows media player. :(

        • Ed DeCaria

          Okay, I finally got Vimeo to take it up.

          Should be visible to everyone now that it is hosted offsite. All links to prior mp4 pop-up should be replaced with links to
          Madness! 2012 Selection Sunday.

          Please let me know if you have continued problems with it.

          Thanks for the feedback.


          • Susan Taylor Brown

            I’m watching it now so all is well. Thanks again for your hard work. I’m not holding seeding me at 16 against you, much. :)

            • Ed DeCaria

              You might want to hold that thought. I just ran the word assignments, and there are more syllables in your word than there are in your name …

            • Susan Taylor Brown


              What’s a girl to do except resolve to have fun trying?

  • Elaine Magliaro


    I think you missed my announcement at Wild Rose Reader that you won a copy of Janet Wong’s poetry book “The Declaration of Interedependence.” Could you email me your snail mail address so I can send you the book?

    Elaine Magliaro

  • Donna Martin

    Ed, I’ve just awarded you the Sunshine Blog Award! I gave your blog a shout-out on my blog ( ) during my acceptance speech for my own award! Enjoy…

  • Ed DeCaria

    This is fun — I think that all other posts in this thread should involve me winning things.

    Thanks, Elaine and Donna!

    • Kathryn Apel

      Haha. You win, hands down, Ed! :)

  • Catherine Johnson

    It is amazing how much work you’ve put into this Ed, cheers!

  • Amy LV

    A little slow on the uptake, I just found the video. If I was giving out awards, I’d award you with a radio voice over job! Fantastic! This whole thing makes me smile, and I just linked to the bracket on The Poem Farm fb page. Many thanks, once again! a.

  • Stephanie Farrow

    Ed, it just occurred to me that everyone in this tournament, except the champion, wins second place no matter how far they make it.

  • Stephanie Farrow

    Ed, Because there seems to be a growing interest among teachers and students, one possible variable to look at is how the voting numbers run on the weekends. (I mention this only because you don’t seem to have enough to do.)

  • Stephanie Farrow

    It’s fascinating to watch the spreads (is that the right sports term for scores?) on this round. Last round the poems were duking it out to the bitter end. Many won by the slimmest of whiskers. In this round the votes are lopsided w/ one poem clearly a favorite. The comments, tho’, reflect how excellent all the poems are and how difficult it is to make a decision.

  • Anna J. Boll

    This one was so tough!

  • Janet Lawler

    Hi Ed –
    How do you select participants? I’d love to volunteer for next March. I love poetry and I love March Madness, although I am crushed this year that Kevin Ollie and his UConn Huskies are banned from post-season play. But maybe they’ll work extra hard on academics and turn into poets!
    Janet Lawler

    • Ed DeCaria

      First year was first come first serve. This year I instituted an application process where would-be authletes had to submit a short verse and a web link so I could learn more about them. Next year … who knows? But I will add your e-mail address to my list of people to remind about the event when the time comes next year, okay?

  • Mother Streusel

    I like them both!
    Hmm…I recently wrote a poem using the flibbertigibbet and exhibit rhyme. How funny to find it used here as well. I promise I didn’t steal it. Pure coincidence. Here it is: