ROUND TWO: 16-subterfuge vs. 9-iconic

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:

By Renée M. LaTulippe

Say what you want. My ears are shut.
Your code for me does not apply.
I see your mouths move. Tell you what—
save your breath. Don’t even try
to crack me like a coconut
with rumors, lies, and subterfuge.
Say what you want. My ears are shut.
Watch me rise. I’m gonna be HUGE.


Hungry Night
By Kai K. Zander

Ketchup, mustard, stale white bread
I wish I had a steak instead

Cupboard shelves – a blank abyss
Another meal I’ll have to miss

Iconic face of hungry nights,
Moon sees me wish for Day and Light

I’ll go to school and eat for free
And cure my stomach’s misery


16-subterfuge vs. 9-iconic: Which Poem Did You Prefer?

  • 16-subterfuge (Renée M. LaTulippe) (51%, 226 Votes)
  • 9-iconic (Kai K. Zander) (49%, 214 Votes)

Total Voters: 439

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  • Renee LaTulippe (@ReneeMLaTulippe)

    And we’re off! Good luck, Kai!

  • Linda Baie

    Wonderfully thoughtful poems Renee and Kai. I think middle grades and older will love these. and they would make great mentor poems!

  • Renee LaTulippe (@ReneeMLaTulippe)

    Thanks, Linda! Good job, Kai! Looks like we both went serious this time. :)

  • Ed DeCaria

    This one might kill me. On the other hand, can’t go wrong here. Both superb.

  • Patricia Nozell

    Two amazing poems, ladies. You have nailed the middle school voices. Haven’t voted yet, as I really need to ponder this one. Ed, can we have two winners here?

  • Mary Lee

    This one’s so hard. I have childhood memories of a migrant worker’s child in our class who ate every scrap of his lunch…including orange peels. Without understanding hunger, we were cruel to him for that…and I’ll never be able to go back and apologize.

    And yet…that urge to rise no matter what…it rings so true.

    I’ll have to come back to this one before I vote.

    GREAT work, ladies!! I love poems that make me THINK.

  • Robyn Hood Black

    Wow. Both.

  • Ed DeCaria

    I think we have 64 winners here! Sadly only one can take the trophy …

  • Zachary Pug


  • Nessa

    Ooh! Love them both. Difficult decision.

  • Quinette Cook

    Here we again. The competition is so good that it is necessary to read these poems several times. Sigh. Inspiring.

  • Quinette Cook

    That was supposed to be “here we go again.”

  • Josh Close

    I don’t see how this is so lopsided!

    Both are great…

    My vote is for Kai’s.

  • Kai

    Renee!!! You are so amazing! I feel like a junior high basketball player with the opportunity to play one on one with LeBron! The experience is once in a lifetime and I feel so fortunate!

  • Janet F.

    Famous old saying: Too soon old, too late smart. I wonder how many of us have similar memories and wishes. Thought-provoking poems here, for sure. Yes, choosing was hard. Have not done it yet!!!

  • Janet F.

    Again, mine is in response to Mary Lee’s comment above.

  • Gloson Teh

    Haha. Great poem Kai! You’d rather go to school to eat instead of just eating “Ketchup, mustard, stale white bread”? Your school’s food must be pretty amazing. Wait, it opens at night too? :P

  • Lori Mozdzierz

    Great job, ladies!!

  • Kai

    Gloson : it’s supposed to say that kid is wishing for morning so they can have a real meal. Sorry if that wasn’t clear! 8 lines is so hard!!!

  • Laura Shovan

    Both of you capture kids in need so beautifully. Great poems, Renee and Kai.

  • Josh Close

    Yeah, I’ve struggled with the 8 line thing as well! I always want to add more!! But, I’m glad it’s the way it is, makes me put more meaning into less words.

  • angie breault

    Great poems!

    Kai, I think your intention was very clear. It tugged my heart strings at the end. Beautiful job! I’m glad you rediscovered your love for writing :)

    Renee, I’ve been amazed by your poetry thus far. You are very talented!

  • Gloson Teh

    Hi Kai. SORRY! x( I agree; 8 lines is hard indeed. Looks like I forgot to connect “Day and Light” with “I’ll go to school and eat for free” (but the image of a night school [a hostel, maybe?] is slightly haunting, which is good).

    I initially read this poem with the stereotype that cafeteria food sucks (too much reading poems from Kenn Nesbitt, who wrote “Revenge of the Lunch Ladies”). Haha. But that makes your poem even greater, because maybe, it means the kid is even willing to eat the food that Kenn Nesbitt’s lunch ladies cook! :)

  • Ed DeCaria

    POSTING A COMMENT FOR RENEE (she was having some comment trouble and hopefully now is asleep!):

    Kai, that is a sweet and flattering sentiment, but I think you have me mixed up with someone else. Your poem is terrific (and terrifying), beautifully done. Yay for us!! :)
    Thanks for your lovely comments about both poems, everyone – it’s very much appreciated! :)

  • Carrie Finison

    Two thoughtful and thought-provoking poems – the best kind. Congratulations to both of you!

  • Penny Klostermann

    These are both very powerful. Great job, ladies.

  • Donna Smith

    Thoughtful and thought provoking both.

  • Heidi Mordhorst

    I’m noticing that the poems this round are overall more successful in many ways (despite some really impressive work in Round One), and I think it’s because the words are more “doable.” What does anyone else think?

    Both of these ring with true experience. Thanks, poets!

  • Amy Ludwig VanDerwater

    I loved this match. And it made me sad.

  • Damon Dean

    This match did tear at the heart. Great work Renee and Kai.

  • B.J. Lee

    Great job, ladies! A tough decision. I loved the ‘voice’ in yours, Renee!

  • Mary Lee

    Yes, Janet F., yes, indeed.

  • laurasalas

    Oh, these are both powerful. Thank you!

  • Barb

    Wow! It’s so hard to decide between two amazing poems. Congrats to you both because I think it’s a tie.

  • Dave Crawley

    Great stories told in verse…

  • Bill

    It’s a coin toss between Twolips and the Bond girl;)

  • Dave Crawley

    One vote margin. Yikes!

  • Kai

    Congrats Renee! I can’t wait to see what you do next round!!!

  • Renee LaTulippe (@ReneeMLaTulippe)

    Yeesh, what a match-up! Thank you, Kai! I look forward to seeing more of you and your work around, too. Glad you remembered your writing. :)

  • Ed DeCaria

    Sorry for the outage.

    Congratulations, Renée and Kai both for two wonderful poems.

    Renée is officially part of this year’s “Sweet Sixteen” …

  • Quinette Cook

    Congrats to both of you! Tight race at the end – I was on the edge of my seat. I’m guessing you both feel exhausted. (I know I do.) :)

  • Joe Mohr

    Congrats to both! What a match up!!!

  • Renee LaTulippe (@ReneeMLaTulippe)

    Thank you! The screeching tire sound on this matchup woke up the whole family and we all watched the conclusion (including toddlers) to the bitter/happy end. We thought we broke your site with our refreshing, Ed. Ha!

  • Michel Krueger

    Both excellent themes and treatments, ladies! Thanks for your hard work! congrats, Kai!

  • angie breault

    Great job to both of you. Those are two excellent poems! Congratulations on moving on Renee. I’ll see you in the next round! :)

  • Renee LaTulippe (@ReneeMLaTulippe)

    See you there, Angie. Good luck with MORASS! :D