ROUND TWO: 5-tendency vs. 13-impersonate

r2f2 5-tendency vs. 13-impersonate

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:

To Chew Or Not To Chew
by Debra Shumaker

I have an inclination
To chew my fingernails.
I do it in frustration
To cover up my “fails.”

This tendency to gnaw and chew
My nails when I’m at fault,
I know it’s something that’s taboo.
But man, they’re good with salt!


The Lonely Pawn
by J.J. Close

In just two steps, she sets the stage – a pawn, no more no less.
She opens up a pathway towards a far more brutal mess.

As bishops swoon and castles fall, and knights all risk their lives,
the lonely pawn, who’s young of age, alas she still survives.

The queen fatigued, she meets her match, the king is on his own;
the pawn, she’s sleek – she sneaks and creeps into a place unknown.

Through secret gate, recalibrate – impersonate a queen.
And then check mate as if by fate, their king left trapped between.


Public Vote (5-tendency vs. 13-impersonate)
Final Results:
5-tendency vs. 13-impersonate

Authlete Vote (ID Required)
Final Results:
5-tendency vs. 13-impersonate
Classroom Vote (ID Required)
Final Results:
5-tendency vs. 13-impersonate

Like it? Share it!

Like me? Subscribe to TKT!

  • Debra Shumaker

    Another masterful poem, J.J. May the best poem win!

    • Josh

      Indeed – good luck to you Debra! I’ll probably be chewing on my nails until the results come in. Didn’t think of applying salt though, thanks for that tip. :)

  • Quinette Cook

    Ooooh, great poems. I’ve never played chess (to much thinking) but I used to bite my fingernails.

  • Mother Streusel

    This was a tough match up for me!! Two very different but well-crafted poems. Thanks for making this competition so much fun and entertaining.

    • Bonnie Bailey

      I agree. So different, both good. Tough vote.

      • Debra Shumaker

        Thanks! This has been SO fun, but so stressful, too, knowing that everyone is bringing their A game.

  • Samuel Kent

    Debra, What a strange, funny twist this took. Well done! J. J., I know you were worried about your word assignment before, but you nailed this (no pun intended there).

    • Josh Close

      Yeah, I had a humorous one written – but once again elected to go with my more serious one. (first round did the same thing)

      When I first got the word, I thought of “check-mate” for some reason and had to see where a chess poem could go. Had to write about the pawn; I like the underdog. :)

      • Debra Shumaker

        J. J., I’d be curious to see your humorous one! I so loved how you set the stage with your first line.

        • Josh Close

          I haven’t really edited this one much, just played around with the actual impersonation idea. This one doesn’t scan as well as I’d have liked, and it may need a bit of work to keep from coming off as “some creeper in a tree,” lol.

          I investigate a house as I impersonate a tree,
          as someone in there’s up to something that I have to see.
          They sent me here to interfere if something isn’t right,
          And stay completely silent and forever out of sight.
          My branches are impeccable, my leaves and trunk top notch,
          The hole I’ve carved within the thing is great for me to watch.
          I know for fact I won’t be found, as I have proof, you see:
          The neighbors dog who pees on every tree has peed on me!

          • Debra Shumaker

            Wow, this was a great start too. Talent, indeed.

  • Miranda Paul

    Wow. This one is hard to choose! I love chess, but I also have some fingernail habits…will have to re-read them a few times before voting.

  • BJ Lee

    Nails with salt! Yeah Debra! Masterfully played, J.J.!

  • Elizabeth McBride

    I second Mother Steusel’s comments! This is tough! J.J. I loved the way you wove in the actual moves of the chess pieces. And Debra – the salt! Didn’t see that coming!

  • Buffy Silverman

    Well done, you two! I laughed aloud at your ending, Debra. And that’s one sneaky pawn, J.J.

  • julie krantz

    Really hard choice, poets!

  • Nessa Morris

    Oh, this is so hard to choose! I *love* them both.

  • Damon Dean

    Debra, there’s definitely LOTS of nail chewing going on with this competition. Great poem! Try a little hot sauce instead of salt.
    JJ, you fitted your impersonating pawn perfectly into your poem. Loved this and laughed out loud at the ‘far more brutal mess’ of that perfect game of chess.

    • Debra Shumaker

      Damon, I have to admit I am spending way too much time checking the public vote and am dying to know how the other two are going. I think I have a lock on two classroom votes as my sons’ classes are registered, but who knows? Their elementary school has a rather large chess club. :-) I’m about to chew my nails so I’ll consider the hot sauce.

      • Josh Close

        Debra, just re-read your authlete profile – I don’t have it in my profile, but I’ve grown up in Wisconsin – have lived here my whole life. In a farming community, not really a farm-boy though!

        • Debra Shumaker

          When I read your profile, I wondered if UWEC was the University of Eau Claire! Too funny. And one of the other Authletes had a poem about northern WI. . . so there may be quite a few of us!

          • Debra Shumaker

            In fact, your competitor in the next round, Miranda Paul, is from Green Bay. Wisconsin rocks!

  • G. Hineleus

    good job

  • Debra Shumaker

    Congrats J.J.! That was a lot of fun, and you have a well-deserved win. Maybe we’ll battle again next year!

    • Josh Close

      Thank you Debra! My internet went out at 9:10. I was required to bite my nails for another 20 minutes while I got it fixed! Good luck to you in everything you do – maybe we’ll meet again next year!

  • Ed DeCaria

    That was …

    (get it?)

    • Gloson


      • Debra Shumaker

        Ha, that made me laugh. But yes, the authlete and public votes were so close, it actually hurt. :-) But had a blast. Thanks for organizing Ed. Next year. . .

  • Mother Streusel

    Looks like in a couple of the categories, this match up was “Close.” Actually, all of them. Ha ha. Two great poems. Really well-crafted, Debra! Congratulations J.J.

    • Debra Shumaker

      Thanks Mother Streusel. And I think you made it to the next round, right! Way to go and good luck!

      • Mother Streusel