ROUND ONE: 6-cairn vs. 11-claque

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 Mary Lee Hahn

Stonehenge is a megalith,
a cairn of monumental heft.
Grave and silent, mystifying,
astronomic, deifying.

Mostly cairns are landmarks now,
though some display artistic prowess.
Stone on stone, unlikely balance,
signpost of life’s rocky challenge.


A Claque, By Any Other Spelling
by Lori Degman

Clickety clack, along the track. This poem will sure be easy!
What – not clack? You spell it claque? Oh, now I’m feeling queasy!

Claque’s a word I’ve never heard. I need to check it out!
To quote Roget: “a group they pay, to clap and cheer and shout”.

I surely can’t have sycophants selecting mine for money.
I’d rather they would smile and say, “I picked it ’cause it’s funny!”


6-cairn vs. 11-claque: Which Poem Did You Prefer?

  • 6-cairn (Mary Lee Hahn) (51%, 217 Votes)
  • 11-claque (Lori Degman) (49%, 210 Votes)

Total Voters: 427

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  • Renee LaTulippe (@ReneeMLaTulippe)

    CAIRN and CLAQUE. What the what? Good luck with this well-matched matchup!

  • Quinette Cook

    Renee, my sentiments exactly. Now to go look up both words.

  • Susan Taylor Brown

    Woohoo, what a matchup this is going to be. Good luck to you both!

  • Catherine Johnson

    Oh my! I hope you two have a good stash of chocolate. Those words!

  • Mary Lee

    12 hours and 43 minutes to go and my poem has been submitted! I can’t wait for you to read it! I love it, and I hope you do, too.

  • Susan Taylor Brown

    Can’t wait to read yours, Mary Lee. I’m chewing my nails, waiting for my own word to pop up.

  • laurasalas

    Good luck, girls! Can’t wait to see your poems!

  • Lori Degman

    Good luck, everyone!!

  • Renee LaTulippe (@ReneeMLaTulippe)

    I love that Mary Lee loves her poem! That’s the way it should be!

  • Linda Boyden

    What wonderful words! Can’t wait to read them. This is like taking a mini-poetry intensive class, isn’t it?

  • Marcus Ewert

    Not to be all judgmental, but…
    If you all had played *more* Dungeons & Dragons in your formative years, you’d know what a CAIRN is – no problem!

  • Donna

    I cairn imagine there will be any claque of finesse in either of these poets’ creations today! I am antsy due to this claque of posted poetry, and I cairn wait any longer! (it’s okay, really, Ed…)

  • Renee LaTulippe (@ReneeMLaTulippe)

    I KNEW this one would be hard! Two completely different voices and vibes, both solid as a cairn in their own right. Lori always brings the funny, Mary Lee the language — oh, the language!

  • Quinette Cook

    Renee your observation of these two poems is right on. (Thanks! I like commenting after others have made such good observations.) I had to read these poems several times (out loud) to make my final decision.

  • Stephen W cahill

    Lori, you mind reader, I picked it ’cause it’s funny! Also, because you saved me having to look up the dictionary – thanks :-)

  • Amy Ludwig VanDerwater

    Gosh. The idea of ‘clack/claque’ fun is so clever, and the language in ‘cairn’ – stunning. What a match!

  • Mrs. Harvey

    I love the definition within the poem for claque. So many possibilities for teachable moments in both poems!

  • laurasalas

    Fabulous–ack, how do I choose?

  • Bill

    I think these are my favourite two so far. Tough choice! Well done ladies!

  • Catherine Johnson

    This is so tough!

  • Buffy Silverman

    Wonderful poems–love Mary Lee’s language, and Lori’s humor.

  • Matt Forrest

    Another tough decision!

  • Penny Klostermann

    I’ve been back here several times! To read and reread! Wow!

  • Doraine Bennett

    What a difficult choice! Good job to you both.

  • Susan Taylor Brown

    Oh Mary Lee I was waiting for beautiful language and I was not at all disappointed. Wow! Lori, so funny! Another tough choice.

  • Robyn Hood Black

    These choices are making my brain hurt. Congrats for making an “unlikely balance” of lovely images with your word, Mary Lee, and, Lori – what rhythm and voice and humor!

  • Donna Smith

    Very different, but both great! Obviously a difficult choice!

  • Patricia Nozell

    I saw someone mention a “well-matched match up” earlier on in the comments. I’ll say! Two TOUGH words & two wonderful poems. Deservedly a tie thus far!

  • laurasalas

    Wow. Y’all are close! Two great poems. Mary Lee, I especially loved your lines 3 and 4. And Lori, your humor is terrific!

  • Mary Lee

    What a crazy, nail-biter of a race! I LOVE it that we have BOTH been winning the entire time!!!

    Whaddaya say we try to make this the most voted-on race of the first round? Get the word out — share the excitement!!

  • Janet F.

    I really do love both of these. Mary Lee when I see a cairn again and they are about in New England, I will think of your rich poem. And Lori, you do remind us to laugh for real. Yours is witty and funny. Such difficult choosing. Good luck to you both in this neck and neck finish.

  • Ed DeCaria

    FYI, the clock on this matchup was off by 40 minutes. This closes at 2:40pm Central.

  • tanita

    Cousin Mary, leave it to you to use “deifying” in a poem!
    These are both so excellent – wringing out all the meaning in the words. Well done.

  • Penny Klostermann

    This is unbelievable!!!!! These are both soooo great! What a close race!

  • Quinette Cook

    I can’t believe the total number of votes. Awesome!

  • Joanna

    This is nail biting!

  • Ed DeCaria

    Congrats, Mary Lee AND Lori for putting on quite a show.

    See you in Round 2, Mary Lee!


  • Julie Larios

    Wow – 427 votes in this contest!! What kind of Fan Clubs do you two have????? Congratulations, Mary Lee.

  • Mary Lee Hahn

    Lori, thank you for such a fun round! It was a huge win for poetry that we were able to get 400+ people to read our poems and vote. Amazing that it was so close all the way through the race.

  • Lori Degman

    Congratulations, Mary Lee!! I think I should have hired a claque to help me win! I’ll be rooting for you in the next round!!

  • Bill

    Congrats to both of you on meeting the challenge so magnificently!

  • Carrie Finison

    Wow, I was riveted by this contest all day. Congratulations to both of you!

  • Renee LaTulippe (@ReneeMLaTulippe)

    Congrats to you both – what a great round!!

  • Robyn Hood Black

    What an exciting match-up – well done!

  • Damon Dean

    CLOSE MATCH! What fun…both were so great, it was a difficult vote. Wish you both could move on. Will be cheering for you Mary Lee, and want to see more of your work Lori…some place, somewhere (maybe 12 x 12?).

  • Allan Wolf

    This was Frazier vs Ali. This was Navratilova vs. Evert. Virginia Tech vs. UVA. Byrne vs. Fischer. Snoopy vs. The Red Baron. They are gonna make a movie out of this one.