ROUND THREE: 6-quasi vs. 7-torrent

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:

Dear Bully
By Laura Shovan

Sometimes when we pass in the hall
I hear you say, “She’s no one at all.”
I’m invisible, though we both wear
a hoodie, jeans, the same long hair.

Showing off for your latest boy,
you scan the crowd for some new toy
to play with, pick apart and tease.
I melt into shadows. I hide. I freeze.

I’m quasi human, not quite here.
When you look at me, I disappear.


Note: The title refers to Dear Bully: 70 Authors Tell Their Stories, Edited by Megan Kelley Hall and Carrie Jones.


The Vegan and the Vampire
By Marcus Ewert

A vegan came to lecture me, he ranted on and on;
I flapped my velvet cape at him and told him to be gone.

He came again at daybreak, when it’s time for me to rest –
He yelled that meat was murder, then he flung a chicken breast.

He tampered with my pantry – my poor bats flew out in droves!
“It’s just fresh herbs and greens!” he said. Yes…and garlic cloves!

He pestered me with pamphlets on the larceny of milk,
And shredded half my jacket – just because it’s made of silk!

He ambushed me in alleys, and he cornered me in crypts;
He broke into my boudoir, frothing spittle on his lips;

“You live off HUMAN BLOOD!!” he shrieked. “Your diet is abhorrent!”
I confess I ripped his head off, and lapped at the red torrent.


6-quasi vs. 7-torrent: Which Poem Did You Prefer?

  • 6-quasi (Laura Shovan) (48%, 182 Votes)
  • 7-torrent (Marcus Ewert) (52%, 198 Votes)

Total Voters: 378

Loading ... Loading ...

“This is awesome, where can I find more?”:
Browse other matchups using the slider below and click to go straight to that matchup!

  • March Madness Kids' Poetry Tournament
  • March Madness Kids' Poetry Tournament
  • March Madness Kids' Poetry Tournament
  • March Madness Kids' Poetry Tournament
  • March Madness Kids' Poetry Tournament
  • March Madness Kids' Poetry Tournament
  • March Madness Kids' Poetry Tournament
  • March Madness Kids' Poetry Tournament

Like it? Share it!

Like me? Subscribe to TKT!

  • Ed DeCaria

    And now Marcus is on the OTHER side of humor vs. heart!

    I think kids would love both of these poems. Great work, Laura and Marcus.

  • Stephen W Cahill

    Great job guys, that was really hard to choose.

  • Catherine Johnson

    These are both wonderful!

  • Carrie Finison

    Wow, Laura what a powerful poem. That captures the middle-school hallway experience to a T. And Marcus, what a vivid picture you paint. I loved this! Very nice job both of you.

  • Laura Shovan

    Thanks, Carrie! You won’t be surprised to know that I have a middle schooler at home.

    Marcus, your poem cracked me up. I’m thinking Twilight meets PETA.

  • Renee LaTulippe (@ReneeMLaTulippe)

    Laura, that poem epitomizes what you wrote about in your blog post: an authentic voice. Truly beautiful. Then we get to Marcus, with a bloody funny story and perfect meter and “the larceny of milk.” Impossibly good stuff on both sides.

  • Jonnie Sofer

    This round was most difficult – both poems were wonderful!

  • Linda Boyden

    Truly fabulous work. Laura’s put me right back in jr. high/middle school. And Marcus’ tickled me, red!

  • Quinette Cook

    I love that poetry lends itself to be serious or humorous. These were so different from one another and that made it hard for me to vote, especially since they were both so well written.

  • Mary Lee

    Marcus, I missed the memo that you were ditching your flood-riding relative! What a surprise to find vampires and vegans!

    Laura, the fear in your poem is palpable.

  • Penny Klostermann

    This was a tough one as I expected it would be. I have enjoyed reading poems from both of you through the tournament. Laura, many kids will relate to your poem. Marcus, many kids will be laughing at the thought of a vegan and a vampire! Nice job, you two.

  • laurasalas

    Wow, some very thoughtful poems this round. Laura, that’s beautiful–and with perfect meter! Marcus–ha! I wrote a poem in last year’s tournament about a vegetarian ogre or something like that. I love the end of your poem!

  • Buffy Silverman

    Laura, your poem is so vivid and powerful. And Marcus, your vampire made me roar.

  • Ed DeCaria


    “You live off HUMAN BLOOD!!” he shrieked. “Your diet is abhorrent!”
    I confess I ripped his head off, and lapped at the red torrent.

    Is the funniest couplet in the history of vampire poetry. I cannot stop thinking about this vampire lapping at the red torrent of blood. I mean, someone could make a classic B-movie on the basis of that scene alone.

    And vampire poetry fans, also be sure to check out this poem by Matt Forrest Esenwine, which I also thought was excellent, in particular the last two lines. Go read it!

  • Damon Dean

    Well, I thought voting was difficult when the poems had some magical similarity…now with this wide span, the vote is even harder.
    Loved them both. These quasi kids are really there. God help us help them.
    And the phrase ‘larceny of milk’ really cracked me up. I could not hide my fangs.
    Well…gotta vote…

  • Laura Shovan

    Just in case “Dear Bully” hits close to home for any readers (kid, teen, or adult), I’ve posted some anti-bullying resources in my Poetry Friday post today.

    Writing this poem also encouraged me to share my own story, which you’ll find at the end of the post.

  • Heidi Mordhorst

    Two of my faves, head to head. Haven’t even read them and I know it’s going to be hard…

  • tanita

    Argh. I love the DEAR BULLY project a great deal. And, Marcus, that was SO WRONG. And hysterical. ☺

    Another hard one.

  • Dave Crawley

    5:32 PM…and the poets are fit to be tied! As it should be, since both poems are excellent.

  • Robyn Hood Black

    Wow – Laura, your poem is so quietly powerful, and Marcus – what can I say about yours? (I’ve been a vegetarian 25 years. Hubby is a vegan.) There’s something so sharp and clever about vegan vs. vampire – I won’t watch Vampire Diaries because of the gore (kinda like the last line here), but the rest of my family loves it. So well done, both of you, for different reasons.

  • Amy Ludwig VanDerwater

    Laura – I am having middle school flashbacks. I so remember…you so capture it. Marcus – those two opposite Vs are just hilarious. There feels something wrong about voting for one of these against the other – I would like to vote for both. Please, Ed?

  • Marcus Ewert


  • Laura Shovan

    I was at a poetry reading and missed all the action. Congrats, Marcus!

  • Ed DeCaria

    I fully respect and admire what Laura put together in this round and in previous rounds, but I have to admit that I STILL CANNOT STOP LAUGHING at Marcus’ poem. I have probably read it twenty times and I laugh, out loud, hard, every time.

    And Marcus, even though I know you self-criticized the missed beat of your last phrase of your last line, it almost kinda works better that way if you read it out loud. It stresses the absurdity of it all.

    Thank you, Laura, and congratulations, Marcus.


  • Quinette Cook

    Hats off to both of you for an exciting competition! Good luck in the next round, Marcus.

  • Michele Krueger

    Nice. Beware, Marcus, I am a vegan! Laura, enjoyed your poem too.

  • Renee LaTulippe (@ReneeMLaTulippe)

    A great race. Congrats, Marcus. You’ve got me shaking in my faux leather boots!

  • Mary Lee

    Congratulations all around! And thank you both for championing others’ poems in the competition. Maybe next year I can take a leave of absence from The Day Job so that I can return the favor?!?!

  • Cliff Erler

    Thanks Franklyn for the heads-up. Both poems were wonderful, But since we just got the e-mail and arrived home yesterday, we couldn’t vote. Cliff

  • B.J. Lee

    Enjoyed both of these poems. Congrats Marcus! Very funny!