REGIONAL SEMIFINALS: 16-impaled vs. 4-truce

[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:

Epitaph: In Memory of Rain
by Susan Taylor Brown

And when water freely flowed, we cheered
tiny seedlings impaled the crusted clay
giant sequoias stretched high to salute the sun
their roots anchored deep in the belly of the earth

tiny seedlings impaled the crusted clay
wildflowers carpeted canyons in a kaleidoscope of colors
their roots anchored deep in the belly of the earth
we danced at dawn to the music of birds and bees

wildflowers carpeted canyons in a kaleidoscope of colors
before the forest fell down around us
we danced at dawn to the music of birds and bees
until we squandered nature’s gift

before the forest fell down around us
giant sequoias stretched high to salute the sun
until we squandered nature’s gift
and when water ceased to flow, we wept.


Rise to the Epic Challenge (This Means War)
by Greg Pincus

The battle lines are clearly drawn.
How brave we stand. How unafraid.
I know before the next day’s dawn
Sweet songs shall speak of heroes made.
My fellow men are by my side,
Each one but part of our great whole.
A truce we offered up – denied!
Now victory’s our goal.
Sudden cheers! Oh, startling noise!
With tension high, we must begin…
A kickball game! Girls challenge boys.
Rise up! (And please let us boys win.)



16-impaled vs. 4-truce: Which Poem Did You Prefer?

  • 16-impaled (Susan Taylor Brown) (42%, 127 Votes)
  • 4-truce (Greg Pincus) (58%, 172 Votes)

Total Voters: 299

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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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  • Greg Pincus

    Oh, man. Susan, you get all the naturally funny words, don’t you? Impaled = laff-riot. Good luck with that :-)

  • Susan Taylor Brown

    Wouldn’t it be wonderful if I could actually pull a funny poem out of my hat with this one? Yeah, that’s not gonna happen. Ugh.

    • Greg Pincus

      I haven’t the foggiest what to do with “truce” though, funny or not. Of course, I’d be lying if I said that anything jumped into my mind with “impaled” either! This will be intriguing, indeed.

  • Donna Smith

    You should be thinking – this will be too easy, let’s see if I can use “impaled” and “truce” together in the same poem. Now THAT would be a real challenge! Where’s your sense of adventure?

  • Kathryn Apel

    I’m sure that one of you could work a truce into a poem, so that no-one is impaled on the sharpened wits and words… Or maybe they ARE impaled – at which point they would no doubt call a truce…

    The one thing I *am* sure of… Neither of you will be calling truce!

  • jone

    Wow~ the match-up and the words. Cannot wait to see! Good luck to you both.

  • Greg Pincus

    I can’t wait to see your poem, Susan, as your Twitter talk has made me even more anticipatory than I was. I’m gonna make a sight-unseen prediction – our poems could not be more different. I say this not only because of our past entries here, but also cuz I have never written a poem quite like the one I’ve given Ed! Good times. Good times, indeed.

    • Susan Taylor Brown

      Looking forward to seeing yours as well, Greg. It was a struggle for me because I normally write in free verse or haiku and I forced myself to write in a form that was new to me. And even if the rest of the world doesn’t get where I was going with the poem, I was pleased and it made me smile (okay, I admit I also gasped once because I surprised myself.)

      Good luck to you (but not too much luck)

    • Susan Taylor Brown

      Egads, Greg, you didn’t write a serious poem, did you? I was banking on you going with your traditional humor. :)

      • Greg Pincus

        No. No I didn’t. I love your pantoum. I would call mine a… a… mead (mock epic acrostic doggerel) verse. As predicted, they could not be more different!

        • Susan Taylor Brown

          I love the image your “mead” (hahaha) conjures up in my head. I can totally picture those kids facing off on the kickball court. Alas, this time my vote goes to, well, ME! :)

        • Kathryn Apel

          HahahahHA. You two are so funny. Love that you’ve both written a completely new and unexpected style. And done it so well! So this is a pantoum? Not a villanelle? I’ve not written either – but some were writing villanelles for MonthOfPoetry – and this looks similar. (I will google definitions and rules shortly…) The villanelle is my challenge for next year’s MoP. (This year’s was the sonnet.)

          Well done both – in your poems, and your comments. :)

          • Susan Taylor Brown

            Kat, Yes, a pantoum and not a villanelle. I might tackle a villanelle down the road but I think I’m a wee bit enamored of this form now that I’ve tried it.

            • Greg Pincus

              Try a mead, I tell ya. Or after this is done, let’s meet for a pint of mead or something like that. I, for one, look forward to your future pantoums and villanelles, whenever they come.

  • Mary Lee

    Two very different poems, but I love that you both chose FORM this time to guide you!

    As Greg said, I’m going to need to go wash, rinse, and repeat before I can vote on this duo!

    • Susan Taylor Brown

      Mary Lee, I found this time that it is true what I have often been told, more constraints can make it easier to find the poem. At least that worked for me. I have never written a pantoum before yesterday.

    • Quinette Cook

      I too love that these poets chose to write their poems using form. Susan, well done. Pantoums are fun! And Greg, a good Acrostic, er MEAD, (can you throw couplet into that description?) is always fun, especially when there is a twist at the end.

      Decisions, decisions. (Ed, can I use my point for “languish?”)

  • jone

    Oh Susan, a pantoum! A favorite form. Greg, I can see that kickball game. Played it a lot as a child.

    • Susan Taylor Brown

      Jone, A pantoum is now my favorite form. This is my first one and I had such fun with it.

  • Allan Wolf

    Oh man. I’m wrecked. I’m ravaged. I’m beaten and bruised. This is the same anxiety I feel when I’m trying to buy a car!!! Poetry hurts.

  • Eileen

    Susan, next time you need to do a limerick to help warm up those funny muscles.

    There once was a woman named Susan,
    Who wrote about pain and abusin’,
    Though the dark did consume her,
    She at last wrote some humor,
    And a limerick was what she was usin’.

    • Susan Taylor Brown

      Thanks, Eileen! I fear the dark will near always consume me in one form or another. I’ll hire a ghostwriter for my limericks.

  • Carmela Martino

    What a tough choice. Good luck to you both.
    And I love Eileen’s limerick in the comments. :-)

  • Renee LaTulippe

    Haven’t read a pantoum in yonks, and this one is so lovely! And yet, the acrostic is smile-making. Maybe we should all just write limericks like Eileen and call this match-up a tie.

  • Mary Lee

    OMG! I think this one is going to be neck-and-neck down to the wire!

  • Patricia Nozell

    Form with substance! Cheers to both of you (with MEAD, of course!).

  • Patricia Nozell

    Yikes! Just noticing this is a dead heat! Truly poetry at its finest!

  • April Halprin Wayland

    Okay, may I say something about the unfairness of life? I mean, c’mon–this is like choose either a fine wine or Snapple… HOW CAN THAT BE FAIR? I may just have to change into new pair of pantoums in order to vote…

    • Susan Taylor Brown

      April this makes me feel better about falling behind. :) Thanks!

  • Michele Krueger

    Haunting and lyrical, Susan! Nice work. Greg- kickin’!

    • Susan Taylor Brown

      Thank you, Michele. So many talented poets in this tournament I wondered where I could go to buy extra votes so I could vote for more poems.

  • Amy LV

    Susan – That weeping at the end. Wow. You use the most beautiful imagery, and your language is so tight all the way through this Madness. Greg – I had a good surprise at the end here. At first, I thought this poem was about the Madness! Very true child voice. Extremely tough call.

    • Susan Taylor Brown

      Thanks so much Amy. I had so much fun with it I wondered why I hadn’t every tried a pantoum before.

  • Barb

    It was incredibly hard to chose this time. They were both fabulous!

  • jon

    Two good poems … good luck to both of you!

  • Katya

    Greg, my 11 year old think that is the best poem in the world!

    • Greg Pincus

      I find your 11 year old very wise. :-)

  • gene blackmer

    Greg, children’s poetry
    rarely take me back to my youth, but yours
    entertained me

    • Greg Pincus

      High praise, indeed! Thanks… and thanks for coming by the Madness.

  • Peter

    Kickball was THE game at my elementary school. Ground rule double if you hit the dumpster!

    • Greg Pincus

      What happened when it went in the dumpster? For us it woulda been both a home run and a mandatory shower for the fielder….

  • Kathy Ellen Davis

    Both great poems, both forms that I’ll have to try!
    Susan, as a relatively new Californian, I was amazed when I saw sequoias, and you captured them in one line!
    Greg, way to capture the stress and competitiveness of kickball! I was in an adult kickball league and it was madness!
    Best of luck to you both!!

    • Susan Taylor Brown

      Thank you, Kathy!

  • Shemp

    The toughest choice I have had to make. I have been sharing these poems with my family, friends and students. My students taught me what a “braquet” was. Next year I’m going to try…biscuit ball, is it? Anyway, I’m going to be an athletic supporter from now on.

  • Susan Taylor Brown

    Congratulations, Greg! Well written and well played. Will be looking forward to your next round!

    • Greg Pincus

      Thanks, Susan. I love your pantoum and still can’t believe it was your first. I look forward to more of them all year round.