ROUND TWO: 6-tussle vs. 14-ersatz

r2f1 6-tussle vs. 14-ersatz

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 Marileta Robinson

Sunset. Heron wades knee-deep,
Seeking supper. Fish ripples by.
Snap! Beak seizes fish, wrong side up.
Tries to flip it. Sudden tussle:
Flip! Flop! Splash! Flashing
In sun’s last ray, fish dives, makes
A watery get-away. Heron lets it go.
There is always another fish.


The Pirate Captain of Ersatz
by Allan Wolf

He substitutes tin pots for hats.
His ship’s a washtub named Ersatz.
A goldfish pond’s his ersatz sea.
He drinks boiled socks instead of tea.

A salad fork’s his ersatz hand.
By now I hope you understand,
the Pirate Captain of Ersatz
is three parts fib and one part facts.


Public Vote (6-tussle vs. 14-ersatz)
Final Results:
6-tussle vs. 14-ersatz

Authlete Vote (ID Required)
Final Results:
6-tussle vs. 14-ersatz
Classroom Vote (ID Required)
Final Results:
6-tussle vs. 14-ersatz

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  • Damon Dean

    Fun pirate, Allan, a visual character living in substitution adventure!
    Marileta, your imagery is rich with the persistence of nature’s varied but uninterrupted rhythms.
    Both poems perfect for your words.

  • Mother Streusel

    In this case not knowing what ersatz means made it way harder for me to fully appreciate Allan’s poem. In case you also didn’t know, it’s a imitation or substitute for the original, and usually artificial and inferior.

  • deborahhwilliams

    Allan, your poem did a fine job of expressing the meaning of your difficult word! Marileta, your poem was a great snapshot. I used to pass a solitary heron in New Mexico on my way to work–love how your words captured that fleeting feeding moment!

  • Buffy Silverman

    Here’s a match-up where I’d like to vote for both! You’ve drawn your heron beautifully, Marileta. And love your pirate captain, Allan.

  • Elizabeth McBride

    Great poems! You both have made word choices that are keenly focused on your theme, and both of you have a superb sense of rhythm and cadence. Wonderful work!

  • Quinette Cook

    I had to look up the word, Ersatz, but I think that is a good thing. These are very different types of poems and it was a difficult choice. Flip, flop, splash! Which one got away?

  • julie krantz

    Excellent match-up, guys!

  • Gloson

    Your line breaks were nice and enjoyable, Marileta!
    And Allan, you squeezed every drop of juice out of the word “ersatz”, as you did for “inconsequential”. Great job! The Pirate Captain is full of imagination!

    • Mother Streusel

      This is an awesome comment!

  • Samuel Kent

    Marileta, I enjoyed the word picture that you paint. Allan, what a way to contextually reinforce the definition of a challenging word! Good on both of you!

  • Marileta Robinson

    Congratulations, Allen. You wrote a masterful poem, nothing ersatz about it!

    • Allan Wolf

      Thanks Marileta. This tussle was a toss-up to me. Coulda gone either way. Metaphors be with you!

  • Mother Streusel

    Congratulations Allen!!! Marileta, your poem was extremely well-written. You should both be very proud!

  • Ldegman

    Congratulations, Allan – good luck in round 3!

  • Damon Dean

    There is no substitution for a fantastic match! Congrats Allen, and Marileta, that heron is often in my creek and our garden pond. Last year we lost every shubunkin we had (about 16 large beautiful ones with long flowing white and golden tails). That was a persistent heron.

    • Marileta Robinson

      Indeed! What a shame. He probably thought you were a 4-star restaurant.