REGIONAL FINALS: 16-manifestation vs. 7-harbor

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:

HAPPY: a pantoum for a perfect day
By Renée M. LaTulippe

What manifestation of happy is this?
Striding outside where the grass greens my feet.
Dragonflies darting in dragony bliss.
Morning and I promenade down the street.

Striding outside, where the grass greens my feet,
I greet swooping bluebirds out-bluing the sky.
Morning and I promenade down the street:
We’re fluff of a milkweed, as soft as a sigh!

I greet swooping bluebirds, out bluing the sky…
“Tick tock!” say the shadows as sun pulls them long.
Like fluff of a milkweed, as soft as a sigh,
afternoon falls to the whip-poor-will’s song.

“Tick tock!” say the shadows as sun pulls them long,
dragonflies darting in dragony bliss.
An afternoon falls to the whip-poor-will’s song—
what manifestation of happy is this!


The Ex-Mermaid
By Marcus Ewert

She had a tail like knitted gems —
Now sneakers hide her blisters;
A sweatshop girl – she darns and hems —
Unthreaded from her sisters:

Her fearless and wave-racing kin —
Wild girls composed of ocean!
She lost them when she lost her fin,
With a vile gulp of potion.

Adrift on land for seven years,
(She once swam benthic trenches!)
Tonight she treads the human piers,
And something in her wrenches.

She shivers in her winter coat,
(Foam once sufficed to garb her!)
She wonders, “Will I sink or float?”

…And leaps into the harbor.


16-manifestation vs. 7-harbor: Which Poem Did You Prefer?

  • 16-manifestation (Renée M. LaTulippe) (51%, 228 Votes)
  • 7-harbor (Marcus Ewert) (49%, 217 Votes)

Total Voters: 445

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  • B.J. Lee

    So hard to choose. Both so very good!

  • Renee LaTulippe (@ReneeMLaTulippe)

    Marcus, what a fun poem. Alas, poor mermaid. I think this one is going to float, though. ;) Well done, my friend!

  • Renee LaTulippe (@ReneeMLaTulippe)

    For students and teachers, here are the ingredients of a pantoum:

    Stanza 1: Four lines, often ABAB rhyme, but can also be unrhymed

    Middle Stanzas:
    Line 1: Line 2 from previous stanza
    Line 2: new line
    Line 3: Line 4 from previous stanza
    Line 4: new line

    Last stanza:
    Line 1: Line 2 from previous stanza
    Line 2: Line 3 from Stanza 1
    Line 3: Line 4 from previous stanza
    Line 4: Line 1 from Stanza 1

    Very slight variations in the repeated lines are acceptable, especially in punctuation, to achieve subtle changes in meaning,

    Have fun writing!

  • Samuel Kent

    Renee! Your poem is simply gorgeous! Marcus, kudos for using a word that made me open the dictionary (Benthic)! So hard to choose!

  • Renee LaTulippe (@ReneeMLaTulippe)

    Thank you, Samuel! I had so much fun writing it. :)

  • Renee LaTulippe (@ReneeMLaTulippe)

    This is a shout out to Mrs. Skelly’s fourth grade class at Salem Central School in my hometown of Salem, NY! Thank you all for following along and voting on your favorite poems. I know you’ve been writing them with Mrs. Skelly, too. Poetry rules!

  • Ed DeCaria

    HELLO, Mrs. Skelly’s 4th grade class at Salem Central School in Salem, NY!

    Let me know if there’s ANYTHING that I can do to make your visit to TKT more enjoyable!


  • Marileta Robinson

    Two beautiful poems! Renee gets points for a beautifully executed classy pantoum, Marcus gets points for a 16-line movie, and for rhyming garb her and harbor. And I don’t want to have to choose!

  • Joe Mohr

    2 great poems! Beautiful! This one will be very close for the next 32 hours…

  • Carrie Finison

    Two wonderful poems – two worthy foes. You both did an EXCELLENT job. This is going to be a close race, I think!

  • Catherine Johnson

    These are both fantastic, well done both of you!

  • Ed DeCaria

    Here we go again … Marcus and Renee have a knack for neck-and-neck matchups, and this should be no exception.

    Wow, Renee, you really use the pantoum to good effect here. The “Tick tock!” lines in particular, I think are perfectly employed in this form.

    And Marcus, what a setup and what an ending. I LOVE that you leave it to the reader to determine the mermaid’s fate.

    And so I choose …

    … to wait until tomorrow to vote on this one!


  • Marcus Ewert

    Thanks for the love for BOTH our two poems, kind people!
    I’ll admit, I’ve been dreading the possibility of this match-up since Round 1!

    That said, I love pantoums, and I think Renee has decocted pure SPRING here!

  • Robyn Hood Black

    These are terrific! Marcus, quite a bit of narrative and character you stitched into these few stanzas – and a really wonderful ending.

    Renee, I DO love poetic forms, especially when they are so masterfully molded to serve the poem rather than vice versa, and you’ve struck gold here.

    …”where the grass greens my feet” and “bluebirds out-bluing the sky” – gorgeous!

  • Matt Forrest

    Another impossibly difficult matchup. Renee shows a mastery of form while Marcus shows a mastery of storytelling. This won’t be be easy!

  • Ed DeCaria

    I was also impressed with how Renee turned two colors into verbs, and Morning into a walking companion.

    Robyn, I also think your comment about using form “to serve the poem rather than vice versa” is very relevant. I am all for experimentation with form, but too often I’ve found myself reading poems online that use a particular form “just because.” Here I think that it enhances the meaning and flow rather than acting as a prop.

  • Hannah Ruth Wilde

    Beautiful! Both! Renee, your pantoum is going straight to my classroom, complete with instructions!

    Thank you both for the great great poetry.

  • Penny Klostermann

    What a matchup! These are amazing. Renee, it’s hard to write a pantoum-especially to rhyme a pantoum. Yours is genuis. Marcus, your story within a poem, with it’s delightful ending is priceless.

  • Buffy Silverman

    Thanks Renee and Marcus for writing such magnificent poems. I can’t believe that Renee pulled off a pantoum that works so well in 36 hours. And Marcus, your images and language are amazing. Love the use of unthreaded…and the uncertain ending.

  • Renee LaTulippe (@ReneeMLaTulippe)

    Yes, I meant to mention that! Marcus, “unthreaded from her sisters” is my favorite line! Lovely.

  • Carter Higgins

    WOW WOW WOW. I’m gonna need every second of the next 29 hours to decide. Kudos, friends!

  • Amy Ludwig VanDerwater

    I will be back.

  • angie breault

    I can’t decide!

  • Jone

    Love the pa tom, one of my favorite forms.

  • Stephen W Cahill

    What a match up! This must be the final! What, it’s only the Regionals. I don’t want to lose either of you. Now, to vote..

  • Alison Hertz

    Both excellent!

  • Amy Ludwig VanDerwater

    I did it. But not without sighing. You two should keep dueling each other all year. It’d be great for poetry! I bow to you both! a.

  • Laura Shovan

    Wow, Renee. Pantoums are tough and you made it seem so effortless. What a fresh image: time pulling at the shadows as the day progresses. I love how the opening line becomes a declaration at the poem’s close.

    Marcus, I’m partial to mermaids. In fact, Renee and I were discussing mermaid characters for poems in the last round. I’m glad one made it into the competition.

  • Greg Pincus

    Fantastic work, Renee and Marcus. I think you’re both really selfish, though. I mean, if one of you coulda messed up a little, you’d make it much easier for us. But nooooooooo. Selfish, selfish, selfish!

  • Elizabeth Brahy

    These are both sooo good. Renee, I’m in awe of how you marry technique and lyrical imagery. Marcus, I love how you took a well-known story and made it something new with your language and point-of-view. What to do, what to do…

  • laurasalas

    Two of the most skilled poems I’ve read in the tourney so far. Heartfelt and beautiful and surprising, both of them. Congratulations, you two!

  • Gloson Teh

    It’s a TIE! D: Hope it keeps on tying until Ed gets tired of making 3-hour extensions xD

  • Ruth

    These are both so amazing. Impossible to pick — but I did.

  • Cara Slavens

    Wow, both are fabulous. Where do you get your inspirations from?

  • Renee LaTulippe (@ReneeMLaTulippe)

    Good question, Cara! Inspiration comes from just about anywhere – nature, art, the dictionary, kids, TV, books, grocery shopping…you name it. It helps to have a slightly twisted and/or absurd outlook on life so you see things like in a funhouse mirror. I happen to like constraints, so being assigned a word already gets the wheels turning. But in general, pleasing phrases pop into my head, I write them down, and then eventually they may find their way into a poem. For this one, I found the scribbled phrase “Sidewalk danced me down the street” and something about dragonflies from a failed poem about happiness that I started several weeks ago and then abandoned. Those two lines formed the basis for this poem, though the originals don’t appear here at all. They were transformed as the poem needed them to be. :)

    How about you, Marcus? From whence your ill-fated (or not) mermaid?

  • Marcus Ewert

    Oooh yes, good question, and so hard to answer in full! I second everything Renee said about inspiration coming from everywhere, and also about looking at life through a ‘funhouse mirror’ lens!

    And I too love constraints, because they’re a way to narrow down overwhelming Infinity! And I think any poet loves words, and can wring a lot from any one of them – the sound, the meaning, and all the many resonances!
    So for me with this particular poem- I started with ‘harbor’ and knew I wanted it to be the very last word of the poem, and that I wanted it to have a lot of emotional punch. So then I thought, “Well, WHO would find a harbor most poignant? For whom would harbor represent both hope and terrible longing? Someone who’s been cut off from the sea, I think…someone who once had the whole ocean, but now has only this halfway house, as it were – this hemmed-in, dock-lined, heavily COMPROMISED stretch of sea?”

    I could say a ton more – about choices made along the way- but the biggest one was “Whose heart would be most stirred – in all directions – by a harbor?”

    (Before I 100% decided on a mermaid, I also considered the human SON of a mermaid, and also a made-up *MRS.* Gulliver – the wife of Lemuel Gulliver, from the book Gulliver’s Travels – what was SHE doing during all those years when her husband was off gallivanting with teensy-tiny Lilliputians, and horsey Houyhnhnms?)

    Hope this is helpful- and thanks again to everyone who’s following this contest!

  • Quinette Cook

    Renee, your comment on inspiration is, well, inspiring. And I can’t wait to hear what Marcus has to add. It will be fun to watch this match-up. I am on the opposite team as Ed, I love forms and (like Renee) find the added constraint a fun challenge. Pushing words around, making them do what you want is so rewarding… It is also an art to tell a story in 16 lines or less. Fantastic job, both of you!

  • Renee LaTulippe (@ReneeMLaTulippe)

    Aw, thank you so much, Quinette! :)

  • Lori Degman

    How is a person supposed to choose between these awesome poems?! Also, two of my favorite poets!! NOT FAIR!

  • Renee LaTulippe (@ReneeMLaTulippe)

    Oops, itchy trigger finger. And thanks to everyone else for your kind comments and votes on our poems. We’re having fun this round! Marcus rocks!

  • Dave Crawley

    Another difficult choice! Both poems are very imaginative…

  • Marcus Ewert

    Renee rocks!
    And- I’l throw this in here, since it’s invisible unless you’re on Facebook with us –
    but Renee (and also my previous match-mates ERIC ODE & JIM HILL) have been EXEMPLARY in the way they’ve gotten the word out about this event! Everyone’s been strenuously rigorous in saying to their friends “Please do NOT vote for me just because we’re friends – vote for the POEM you like best, no matter whose!”

    This is wonderful!
    (And I have no doubt that my match-mate for the previous round, LAURA SHOVAN, was equally honorable – but we only became FB-friends last night, whereas I got to see everyone else’s high ethics unfold in real time!)

    So- for those of you watching from home – I want you all to know how much INTEGRITY has gone on in this contest! We’ve all really tried to trumpet & champion the works of others, and not just our own!

  • Debbie LaCroix

    Good luck poets! I can’t watch, it’s so close. :-D
    Great and fun poems from both contestants!

  • Gloson Teh

    Hey Renee and Marcus! I love constraints too! How you make use of it trains up your creativity!

  • David Daniel

    Thanks for two great poems!

  • Alvaro

    Both of you continue to impress me!! SALUD!

  • Dave Crawley

    These poems are both so good, I can’t remember who I voted for.

    Renee, words like yours should be put to music. We could call it “The Pantoum of the Opera.” Sorry…

  • Marcus Ewert

    I was telling Renee earlier that I thought her poem should be translated into Italian! (She resides in Italy, for those who don’t know- and is bi-lingual ((maybe more languages too- but I can attest to the English & Italian)) .)

    I bet it would sound beautiful!

    Also- I have always loved the idea of macaronic/macaroni poems – where a poem itself is bilingual, and dances beautifully between two (or more sometimes!) languages!

    Renne, we wants this! [said in my best Gollum voice]

  • Marcus Ewert

    Come on, bilingual pantoums, Renee!
    How hard could those be for someone of your skill? I mean that!

  • Renee LaTulippe (@ReneeMLaTulippe)

    @Dave Crawley – as a former musical theater geek, I fully authorize the writing and production of THE PANTOUM OF THE OPERA. ;) Thank you!

    Marcus, working on the Italian version!

  • Cheryl Lawton Malone

    Another awesome round – wow, so close. I’m having trouble watching. Good luck to both.

  • Cheryl Lawton Malone

    Congrats, Renee! Really excellent job, Marcus.

  • Marcus Ewert

    Thanks, everyone!
    That was nerve-wracking…but SO FUN!
    I adore Renee and am super happy for her!
    I had a blast in the competition and got to meet a ton of great people!

    Renee- that Thinkier trophy has your name on it! CHARGE!!!!!

  • Ed DeCaria

    Oh my! Congratulations to you, Renée!

    And Marcus … DON’T LEAVE.

  • Cheryl Lawton Malone

    congratulations to both of you! Great contest.

  • Renee LaTulippe (@ReneeMLaTulippe)

    Marcus, if only all “adversaries” could be as gracious and funny and fun as you, we’d live in a utopia — a utopia filled with mermaids and oysters and jigsaw puzzles and dead daffodils and ants. But a utopia nonetheless. Congratulations on all your beautiful poems and on just being a really good egg. :)

  • Buffy Silverman

    What a terrific match–congrats to Marcus on your terrific poems. And looking forward to reading your next one, Renee!

  • Damon Dean

    I really had a couple of days when LIFE got in the way of voting…and because these were both so absolutely fabulous, I’m sort of glad I didn’t get to vote.
    Renee, this is my favorite form. I love it. You rocked with it.
    Marcus, your suspense was so cleverly interwoven in the longings and yearnings you unveiled in each line and thought.
    Congrats Renee, and thanks Marcus. You’ve blessed me with two beautiful stories.

  • angie breault

    Awesome job to both of you. Congratulations Renee! Almost there!:)

  • Mrs. Skelly’s 4th Grade

    Hi Ms. LaTulippe,
    THANKS for the shout out. We are in computer lab typing letters to our parents. That was a very good poem. Both poems were amazing. The word “manifestation” was: “tough,confusing, huge, massive, and long”. It was a good poem for such a long word. We looked it up in the dictionary. We want to be “authletes” too. What a fun word! Good luck and we’ll keep watching.
    Mrs. Skelly’s class

  • Renee LaTulippe (@ReneeMLaTulippe)

    Thank you for following the tournament, Mrs. Skelly’s class! “Manifestation” really is a huge and confusing word, isn’t it? It took me a while to figure out what to do with it. I can’t wait to see some of your poems that Mrs. Skelly is sending me this week. I think you are all already turning into excellent authletes, so keep reading and writing poetry. The world needs more authletes! :)

    Renee from Salem!

  • Mrs. Skelly’s 4th grade

    Dear Ms. Latulippe,
    We saw your word. Its enormous! we have to look it up! Good luck with the poem! We have to look up the other words too! Canoodle is a fun word!