ROUND TWO: 6-inhuman vs. 14-incongruous

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:

March Madness
By Mary Lee Hahn

The sun is finally shining and the field at last is dry.
But here I sit, still stuck inside, dividing x by y.

Homework is inhuman, its inventor vile and cruel.
The law should read that schoolwork’s done within the walls of school.

My mother is a monster too, for when I’m done with math
She’ll make me clean my closet, make my bed, and take a bath.

My work is all completed; I’ve escaped its ball and chain.
I grab my bat to run outside…and then it starts to rain.


Mutual Admiration
By Suz Blackaby

Tarantulas are hairy, scary
creatures on the hunt,
and tasty little frogs are just
the bite-sized snacks they want.
Instead these two, with deadly force,
devour each other’s predators,
outfoxing those that do not suss
their bond, which seems incongruous.


6-inhuman vs. 14-incongruous: Which Poem Did You Prefer?

  • 6-inhuman (Mary Lee Hahn) (66%, 245 Votes)
  • 14-incongruous (Suz Blackaby) (34%, 125 Votes)

Total Voters: 370

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  • Ed DeCaria

    Whoa! Didn’t see that coming after clicking “Vote” …

  • Renee LaTulippe (@ReneeMLaTulippe)

    Ha! Ed, one of my favorite things about this setup is the surprise that comes after you click the button. :)

    Two fun poems, but Mary Lee’s meter is smooth as butter. Well done, both!

  • David W. Nosker

    Mary Lee- I remember it well, just like that

  • Quinette Cook

    Agree, Ed. Both poems are thoughtful and well written and the scores don’t necessarily reflect that.

  • Julie Larios

    Mary Lee’s is just about perfect, but I like the tasty little frogs and the tight line of Suz’s, too. I found these hard to choose between, and the lopsided voting was a big surprise.

  • Robyn Hood Black

    Hmmm… I’ll have to go see which is ahead, which means I have to actually vote this time. I had to come back. Love Mary Lee’s humor and rhythm, and my high schooler would agree with the premise; Love Suz’s fun language and intriguing subject, which sent me clicking online to learn more (and also to find the word, “suss”!).

  • KatApel

    Both great poems, but that attention to rhythm wins out for me. But I know what you mean about the whoa!

    (Sometimes I wonder if different accents produce different rhythms with some of these words.)

  • Carrie Finison

    It is strange to see such lopsided voting between two poems that I think are equally strong.

  • Penny Klostermann

    I agree about the lopsided vote! A shock since both are excellent! Great job you two!

  • Pauline Sparks

    Many times I have put off voting because I can’t decide – then the suspense gets the better of me and I have to decide so I can see how the voting is going. Almost every time it has been ‘neck and neck’ (whoops! a cliche!) for me it turns out I have voted for the one with the lower score at the time. I’m not sure what that says about me!

  • Pauline Sparks

    Yes … I did vote for the ‘cliche’ poem!

  • Damon Dean

    Great poems both. As frogs and tarantulas go I like seeing the mutual benevolence here…kinda like a bunch of poets in competition! But the homework story touched this old teacher Mary Lee.

  • Mary Lee

    We have had more indoor recess this winter than any in memory…but maybe EVERY year by the week before spring break it feels this way… I wrote this poem for my perpetually disappointed students. The temperature is warm enough, but…IT’S RAINING AGAIN!! (as it is right now…100% chance

  • juliekrantz

    These are both so good. Hard to choose!

  • Dave Crawley

    Two high vote counts…for two good poems!

  • John WS Marvin

    What circle next to the names? I can’t find anything to click on to vote. :(

    • Ed DeCaria

      Hmmm, the poll is there, so I’m not sure what’s up. You must have a java-enabled browser to see the poll, but most broswers should have that. I’m sorry it isn’t working for you. Unfortunately, there is nothing that I can really do for you other than suggest perhaps using a different web browser or device to cast your vote.

      • John WS Marvin

        Where are these circles?

        Can’t find them in the current versions of IE, Chrome, or Firefox.

  • Josh Close

    Perhaps someone has already voted from your IP?

  • John WS Marvin

    Doh! Of course. My evil wife voted downstairs just to trick me!

  • Suz B

    Excuse me? PORTLAND! LOL

  • Mary Lee

    Yeah, okay. Ohio’s got nuttin’ on Portland when it comes to incessant rain. :-)

  • Mary Lee

    Fun round, Susan! My students enjoyed learning about the incongruous relationship between tarantulas and frogs, and there is renewed interest in your book NEST, NOOK, AND CRANNY. It was an honor to “verse” you! I hope we meet in person someday.

  • Renee LaTulippe (@ReneeMLaTulippe)

    Congratulations, Mary Lee!

  • Michel Krueger

    Kudos, Mary!