REGIONAL FINALS: 16-titillate vs. 14-warbled

[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:

blurbs, Blurbs, BLURBS!
by Peter Patrick Langella

My mom took me to the library
to find a book to read.
I looked and looked and tried and tried,
but it was impossible to succeed.

You see, I can’t get past the blurbs
that litter all the jackets.
They jump around and creep me out
like filthy little maggots.

Things like “Poignant,” “Spellbinding”
“Riveting,” and “Powerful.”
“It’ll titillate” and “Tour de Force” –
what unnecessary mouthfuls!

I want to get a book.
I’d pick one if I could.
Why can’t any jackets
just tell me that it’s “good?”


Girlzilla Gorilla
by Stephen W. Cahill

Girlzilla Gorilla loves eating vanilla
And chocolate banana ice cream.
But when there’s none left, she’s completely bereft
And she screams and she screams and she screams.

Exhausted, her father, decided he’d rather
Concede to Girlzilla each day.
But since he did that, she expanded so fat
That the doctor had something to say,

“This may sound absurd, but I have me a bird
Who knows how to fix your girl ape.”
He opened a door and right there on the floor
Was a goose in a bright yellow cape!

It warbled a song, that was terribly long,
Called “Icecream Will Make You Obese.”
Girlzilla just frowned. She bent down to the ground
And gobbled that goose – now deceased.



16-titillate vs. 14-warbled: Which Poem Did You Prefer?

  • 16-titillate (Peter Patrick Langella) (46%, 158 Votes)
  • 14-warbled (Stephen W. Cahill) (54%, 188 Votes)

Total Voters: 346

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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. The average pairing in Round 3 generated 224 votes. A nice trend! 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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  • Peter

    Happy writing, Stephen!

  • Stephen W Cahill

    Thanks Peter. That’s a right doozy you have there with “titillate”. I tried getting Ed to tell you not to complain – as I thought it wasn’t as bad as the “innuendo” he hit me with in Round One! But he reckons this is harder. And I expect he’s right. Good luck dude!

  • Amy LV


  • Quinette Cook

    This is a really fun word pair-up. Good luck to both of you.

  • jone

    Good luck to you both. I am glad they’re not my words. Wow.

  • Kathryn Apel

    O – kay… I’m sure Stephen is warbling raucous joy that titillate is not his word! I’m equally sure that you’ll both command the language and the form in another tight match-up!

  • Debbie L.

    Totally jealous of these words! I titillate and warble in anticipation!

  • Amy LV

    These were some tricky words, gentlemen, and you took them on in style! Peter – how smart of you to choose book jackets as your vehicle for “titillate,” and I know that find-a-book-feeling. Stephen – “Girlzilla Gorilla” cracks me up, and you’re bringing both ice cream and goose to the potluck!

  • Susan Taylor Brown

    What a terrific match-up! Well done, gentlemen.

  • Ed DeCaria

    If you think these words are tough, just wait until the Final Four. You would not believe the words that the non-winners have been sending in … I don’t know what kind of poetry they’ll spawn, but they would make for a good spoof movie:



  • Greg Pincus

    Nicely done on two tricky words. And Ed… stop teasing us. You know we all say “bring it on!” Or we cower. I think it depends if we’ve slept well or not….

    • Ed DeCaria

      I had to look up at least one-quarter of the 80 words provided.

      The word “genital” appears in one of the definitions.

      That is all.

    • Susan Taylor Brown

      Oh Greg, you just wait! I had such fun going through the list. Narrowed it down to my top 7 and then it was tough. It will be a bloody round when those words are used.

    • Quinette Cook

      Cower. I’ve seen the words!

  • Doraine Bennett

    Hey, Ed. I think it would be interesting to see some stats on how serious poems did as opposed to funny ones. And how older audience poems went up against the younger. Just a thought for your statistically poetic brain.

  • Seamus

    Hard to pick a winner guys, well done both of you

  • Ed DeCaria

    I actually have some stats along these lines, but I decided not to share them because I did not want to influence people’s writing mid-tournament. I will post them afterwards. The data will be a bit more robust then, anyways.

    I have some ideas for the future that will potentially help generate much more robust statistics. Specifically, one idea to engage readers (specifically educators and students) is to allow them to formally evaluate each poem online on various criteria. This would make for good applied study and classroom discussion, with the nifty side benefit of me being able to “collect” data on the back end that can be aggregated into interesting findings in terms of what really makes a poem “pop” for kids/teachers/parents:

    Flowing meter?
    Clever rhyme?
    Adherence to form?
    Funny punchline?
    Strong imagery?
    Tugging heartstrings?
    Transporting me into a character?
    Call to action?
    Something else?

    I could really see this as a great learning ground for poets, teachers, and students alike. What do kids/parents/teachers enjoy about poetry, and what do they want from it? What reaction should poets expect from readers given the type of poetry they write?

    Thankfully, starting down this path does not require all-out madness. A steady drip of poems, votes, comments, and reader evaluations (TKT “Monday Matchups”, anyone?) can be built over time. We need not rely only on new/original poems, either. Any poems that are visible to the public can be used as the basis for evaluation and comparison.

    I could go on, but I suspect I might be scaring some of you. The possibilities are endless … (on a related note, if anyone knows any teenagers willing to do data entry for free and without any meaningful credit, send ‘em my way!)

    • Renee LaTulippe

      This sounds like a great plan, Ed! I never considered the pairing of poetry with data collection, but I’m liking it. And I’m in for Monday Match-ups!

      • Susan Taylor Brown

        I love the idea of data collection too, Ed. Hmmm…you could always use the poems already posted here as a trial.

        Love the idea of Monday Match-ups!

    • Kathy Ellen Davis

      Love the idea of Monday Matchups!
      My brother and I are starting a “Manic Monday” on my blog because each round he would write a poem and send it to me using the word I was up against..we decided we like playing poems off each other and my friends are dying for more poetry! I’d look forward to Monday if there were more poems involved!

  • Stephanie Farrow

    One thing to think about in the future is judging in two categories: one for younger, one for older students. 7-15 is a pretty broad range.
    Also, it’s possible that a student could use his/her work on the website as part of a a class project and get credit from the teacher. And huge thanks from us!

  • Sally Odgers

    Aghhh! Who ever would think titillate a suitable word for a kid-friendly poem? For the sheer cruelty of that choice… well, I thought it was very well swatted. Loved Girlzilla too. Today’s rounds (think this is the last pair) have really exercised my brain.

  • Mary Lee

    HUZZAH to you once again, Peter! You nailed it and got my vote. My students, however, went for the goofiness of the Girlzilla Gorilla eating everything in sight!

    • Stephen W Cahill

      Hi Mary Lee, I’ve been getting great feedback from kids too. Ranging in age from 4 to 10. I’m curious, how old are your students?

  • Kathryn Apel

    Great dodge, Peter. Really impressed with you deflection skills! But Stephen, your rhythm and rhyme was fantastic – and your story funny. I can’t go past it.

    • Stephen W Cahill

      Thanks so much Kathryn. It’s for younger kids but everyone seems to get right giggle out of it! It still makes me laugh too! Looks like this is gonna a be tight one. peters one is very cleverly done.

  • Catherine Johnson

    Great poems!

  • Gabriel

    I find that I start to read all these poems by looking for the challenge word, but become so engaged in the poem that I forget what word I’m looking for and finish without finding it.

  • Tabatha

    Very impressed by all of the poems in the “Elite Eight”!

  • Amy LV

    Many congratulations to both Peter and Stephen, for making us laugh and think! All best to you both for National Poetry Month…hope we really do have a potluck!

  • Jackie Hosking

    Oh my gosh this has been such a fun competition. Wish I’d heard about it earlier. Will certainly look out for it if it runs again. Well done everyone, I’ve really enjoyed all your amazing poetry.

  • Peter

    Congrats, Stephen. Good luck in the Final Four!

  • Tim Martin

    Good luck chaps (esp to Peter, fellow VCFA classmate!)