ROUND FOUR: 4-portal vs. 15-unsustainable

r4 4-portal vs. 15-unsustainable

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:

Alien Invader
by Elizabeth McBride

Last spring I went to Space Camp! It was a dream come true –
a portal to a whole new world: I joined “Kids’ Space Camp Crew!”
Ignition Juice and Lucky Stars began our Training Day,
then orbiting the Plan-It Room, we chose what we would play.
I tried out anti-gravity – I bounced and swirled and spun,
walked ‘on the Moon’ ‘til half past noon, when our free time was done.
We ate our “launch” of Booster Bars and drank some Milky Whey,
and played a Sonic Soccer game, and Comet Keep-Away.
Space Camp Control then radioed that it was time to swim.
We practiced splashdowns and re-entries over and again!
Countdown to dinner soon eclipsed the afternoon’s advance.
We jettisoned from there to dress up for the Retro-Dance.
I put on my Canaveral Cape, Moon Boots, and Turbo-Pack
and flew over the dance floor trailing moon dust from my back.
We toasted Mars-mallows on sticks before going to bed.
Next year I’ll tell my students, so that they can come instead!


The Magnificent Ford
by Karyn Linnell

On the high diving board, The Magnificent Ford, prepares to perform his stunt.
Below on the stage, a water tank in a cage. In the cage, tigers growl and grunt.

In the white spotlight, his straight jacket tight, he steps off and falls to his doom.
Wrapped tight in chains, he twists and strains, as he sinks in his watery tomb.

The water churns, as Ford writhes and turns, and strives to defy certain death.
Cruel seconds count the unsustainable amount of time he’s been holding his breath.

Once foaming with violence, the water’s still silence fills the crowd with great fear.
It’s been much too long. All hope is now gone that Ford will ever appear.

Then..something’s afloat! Could it be his white coat? But still no sign of the man.
Then with great derring-do, all at once he bursts through, as only the gallant Ford can!

Ford was soaked but alive from that perilous dive. The crowd was greatly astounded.
But though free from the chains, the steel cage remains: Ford was still, by tigers, surrounded.

Though fiercely they glowered, Ford was no coward. He dropped down from the tank’s ledge.
He’d be no tiger’s snack! But on each tiger’s back, he walked till he reached the cage edge.

Ford showed his ability and climbed with agility, moving deftly without pause.
He leapt out over the cage, and stepped onto the stage, as the crowd stood in thunderous applause!


Public Vote (4-portal vs. 15-unsustainable)
Final Results:
4-portal vs. 15-unsustainable

Authlete Vote (ID Required)
Final Results:
4-portal vs. 15-unsustainable
Classroom Vote (ID Required)
Final Results:
4-portal vs. 15-unsustainable

15-unsustainable (Karyn Linnell) wins the tiebreaker (weighting vote by # of students per classroom): 262-231.

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  • Elizabeth McBride

    Wow, Karyn! What a tale to tell! And what a great delivery! Wonderful poem!!

    • Mother Streusel

      Thank you, Elizabeth! Your poem was exceptional. We enjoyed it here at my house!

  • Ruth McNally Barshaw

    There’s a glitch in the voting — I noticed this in another matchup earlier: I come to the page and see only results. It says I have 31 hours still to vote, and it’s counting down the seconds, but there’s no voting option. It’s as if my computer has already voted. Which, of course, it hasn’t — nor have I, nor has anyone voted on my computer. Ah, well.
    Best of luck, authletes!

    • Mrs. Rycus

      We are trying to vote, also, and cannot! Please fix this because my class wants to vote!

    • Samuel Kent

      Anyone else using your router voted? On a home network, you share an IP address.

      • Ruth McNally Barshaw

        Thank you, Samuel. I thought IP address was specific to the computer, not the shared modem. Appreciate the correction.

    • Ed DeCaria

      Registered classrooms should use the official Classroom Vote, which is not restricted by IP address but is restricted by username to registered classroom voters. Further, classrooms with direct ties to authletes cannot vote in that authlete’s matchup(s). Please contact me via the right “Contact” pop-out modal with specific questions/concerns.

  • Quinette Cook

    What an adventure for the Magnificent Ford, Karyn. Great story.
    Elizabeth, whew…internal rhyme, nice meter overall, clever wording and surprise ending.
    I have to give this one to Elizabeth.

    • Mother Streusel

      Thanks for the honesty!

      • Quinette Cook

        You’re welcome. They were both wonderful. :)

  • Jackie Wellington

    I voted. I love the Alien invader with the “clever twist” at the end. The magnificent Ford was good as well. Good luck.

    • Mother Streusel


  • Damon Dean

    Wow. Amazing poems, both of them. This will be a difficult choice. The thrill in-theater and the bounding invader made me gasp and laugh! Loved it. Great work Karyn and Elizabeth.

    • Mother Streusel

      Thanks, Damon! I really enjoyed writing this one. While my favorite poems are funny, like Elizabeth’s, this time I couldn’t resist the thrill of adventure I sensed hidden in the word “unsustainable.” I’m really happy with my poem. We shall see in the end which one wins.

    • Elizabeth McBride

      Thank you, Damon! This whole event has been an adventure! Thank you for your review of the poems and encouraging commentary.

  • Katie Van Ark

    Love your space camp poem, Elizabeth!

    • Elizabeth McBride

      Thank you, Katie! I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

  • scrag

    I can not choose, I like them both, what to do what to do……………… I will think about then vote

  • Heather

    It was difficult but Karyn’s got my vote on this one……you both are very talented!

    • Mother Streusel


    • Elizabeth McBride

      Thank you!

  • Gloson

    Karyn, really enjoyed reading your exciting and captivating story of the Magnificent Ford! Elizabeth, loved all the fun terms in your spacey poem! :)

    • Mother Streusel

      Thanks! I’m so glad you found it exciting.

    • Elizabeth McBride

      Thank you, Gloson! Your comments are always positive and encouraging.

  • Bonnie Bailey

    Nice work, ladies :)

    • Mother Streusel

      Thanks Bonnie!

    • Elizabeth McBride

      Thank you, Bonnie!

  • Ed DeCaria

    And … it’s another tie in the kids’ vote! So here’s the process. I need to quickly check the logs to make sure there aren’t any errant votes. Assuming not, I go to the tiebreaker, which is to weight the Classroom Vote by size of classroom. Will report the results under the Classroom Vote above ASAP.

  • Ed DeCaria

    That was a close one!

  • Elizabeth McBride

    Congratulations to you Karyn! Good luck to all the remaining contestants going forward!

    • Mother Streusel

      Thank you Elizabeth!! I thought you did a fantastic job.

  • Quinette Cook

    Wow. Love that this was so close. Hats off to both of you!

  • Elizabeth McBride

    Thank you, Quinnette! What an experience!

  • David G Crooks

    Grand tale well told, Karyn!