REGIONAL FINALS: 4-decent vs. 7-replenished

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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.
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    • Classrooms should submit one vote as a class.
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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:

Prayer of the Praying Mantis
By Buffy Silverman

I fold my arms. I kneel in prayer.
I’m hidden by my leafy lair.
I spy a tremor, tiny shake,
creeping closer, quiver quake.

I focus raptly on my prize,
ten thousand lenses in my eyes.
My costume hides me, in plain view;
my dinner nears my holy pew.

I raise my arms and pray my prey
will find my altar, come to stay.
With patience of a saintly priest–
a decent chap–I bless my feast.

She’s almost here, another stride,
will bring my banquet to my side.
And now at last, she’s reached my trap.
I sway my head, and then… I snap!


The Cello Sun
By M. M. Socks

On the fourth day of spring,
Back in 1901,
Felipe Fernandez
Replenished the Sun.

While bowing his cello,
According to myths,
He filled up the Sun
With vibrato and fifths.

The Sun began glowing,
Though drained of its yellows,
It was now full of amber
The color of cellos.

And since that spring day
The Sun recalls his friend gone
By glowing cello amber
At every dusk and dawn.


4-decent vs. 7-replenished: Which Poem Did You Prefer?

  • 4-decent (Buffy Silverman) (46%, 275 Votes)
  • 7-replenished (M. M. Socks) (54%, 325 Votes)

Total Voters: 598

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“This is awesome, where can I find more?”:
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  • March Madness Kids' Poetry Tournament
  • March Madness Kids' Poetry Tournament
  • March Madness Kids' Poetry Tournament
  • March Madness Kids' Poetry Tournament

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  • Alvaro

    amazing poem, buffy!

  • Joe Mohr

    Great poems, both!!!

  • Renee LaTulippe (@ReneeMLaTulippe)

    Alvaro, a beautiful concept of suns and cellos, truly original. Buffy – gorgeous language. I didn’t even notice your word, then found “decent chap” – love it! :)

  • Robyn Hood Black

    Terrific poems, both. Alvaro, yes – lovely, original imagery. Buffy – what a great concept, and that’s some pretty darn wonderful meter you’ve got there.

  • Jay Schwartz

    Love the ideas in both poems. Enjoyed this more than the other March Madness.

  • Kristin Wolden Nitz

    Creative rhyming from both parties, but Buffy Silverman wins with her attention to meter.

  • Hannah Ruth Wilde

    Hi Buffy! Happy to see you here. :)

  • Penny Klostermann

    Elite eight is right! These poems call me back for several readings. Nice job, you two!

  • Buffy Silverman

    Thanks, Alvaro (and everyone else who commented.) I love your image of replenishing the sun with vibrato and fifths–lovely music!

  • Alvaro

    Thanks Buffy

    The Cello Sun – a sensory poem without the use of adverbs.

  • Amy Ludwig VanDerwater

    These are both so neat…. The cello sun is has that magical quality, and this praying mantis poem shows the beauty horror of nature at once. I love it! a.

  • Gloson Teh

    Buffy, you’re the best bug enthusiast poet I know! M.M. Socks, hello! I love the scene of a cello draining the sun of yellow and made it mellow. Thought I might also share a cello poem I wrote (though not a very mellow one)! :P

  • Laura Shovan

    Alvaro — your poem reminded me of scene from The Phantom Tollbooth.

    Buffy, I love the voice of your praying mantis character. Great use of imagery and your meter is just perfect.

  • Tabatha

    Great job, both of you!

  • Samuel Kent

    Wow, you two. Such a tough choice. Ms. Silverman, yours hits my soft spot for bugs pretty hard, and Mantises rank high in my favorites. Alvaro, yours paints a wonderful picture that there is music and magic in a sunrise and a sunset. After this, I will likely think of your poem every time I watch a sunrise or sunset, for real!

  • laurasalas

    Aw, I love science poems, especially ones with cool language and perfect meter. And I love surprising imagery, like the idea of a celloist who “filled up the Sun
    With vibrato and fifths.” Oi.

  • Heidi Mordhorst

    Alvaro, I so believed this wonderful idea of a cellist serenading the sun, replacing its faded yellows with that amber vibrato, that I went looking to see who Felipe Fernandez was! Unless Google has let me down, you created that “historical” moment yourself. Nice idea.

    Buffy, I think it’s amazing how, no matter what word you get, you manage to write from your own technical knowlwedge and experience of nature and still create characters and scenes that are far more than scientific–and so well-structured, so easy to read aloud! I also love the religious metaphor–it gives your bug poem a unique tone.

  • Quinette Cook

    Ah, the Elite Eight- wow! Dragonflies and praying mantises are two of my favorite bugs, so I was totally “captured” by Buffy’s poem. A story and science lesson in one. And Alvaro’s poem captured the romance of words – who has not watched a sun rise or set and felt music in their hearts? I wonder if there is more to this story? I would like that… Well done “authletes.”

  • Dave Crawley

    Love the “decent chap” who prays over his meal…and actually felt warmed by the cello in the sun. Hard to decide…

  • Linda Boyden

    so much to enjoy in these two different poems. So much!

  • Cheryl Lawton Malone

    Definitely enjoyed both these poems – so much imagery. Science vs. magical realism. So cool.

  • Buffy Silverman

    Congratulations, Alvaro–looking forward to reading your final four poem.

  • Damon Dean

    Like Samuel, I will not see a sunset ever again without peering for that amber vibrato, without leaning forward to hear that warm color.
    And Buffy, your mantis was amazingly true to character, as patience itself is a prayer.
    I am glad I was too late to vote. This would have been impossible for me.

  • April Halprin Wayland

    Oh, my.

    Scary mantis. Stunning sun. Late to vote…but readers won!

  • Renee LaTulippe (@ReneeMLaTulippe)

    Buffy, I loved your mantis and all your other poems. Thank you for all of them!

    Alvaro, my friend, congratulations on the win! I guess we’ll be seeing each other in the next round! :)

  • Ed DeCaria

    Renee, you will face Cheryl in the Humor vs. Logic “Final Four” matchup.

    Alvaro vs. Dave in the Empathy vs. Passion “Final Four” matchup.

    Here is the updated bracket:

  • Buffy Silverman

    Thank you Renee–I appreciate it. And I appreciate the kind words of support of everyone who has commented!

  • April Halprin Wayland

    Buffy–you and your poetic skills rock.