REGIONAL SEMIFINALS: 8-frugal vs. 4-boiling

[click image to view matchup in full screen in a new window.]

The Poets’ Challenge: Each poet is assigned a single word based on their bracket seed, ranging from 1 (intuitive) to 16 (seemingly impossible). Poets must write a kid-appropriate poem using the prompted word in under 36 hours. Once both final poems have been received, they will be pasted into the body of this post, and then the reader poll will be open for voting.

Voter Instructions: Read each poem as many times as you’d like. Then use the poll to express your preference. Votes are counted in real time and cannot be changed once entered. As a guideline for voting, consider the criteria on which the contestants on the cooking show “Chopped” are evaluated: presentation, taste, and creativity. Translated roughly into poetry terms, presentation might include technical aspects such as meter, rhyme, form/shape, etc.; taste might be the net effect — did the poem move you to laugh, cry, think, kill, etc.; and creativity might include the poet’s approach toward a certain subject, image evocation, clever wordplay, etc.

“This is awesome, where can I find more?”: All results and scheduled matchups, including a glance at the round-by-round writing windows and voting windows, are visible from the Live Scoreboard page. In addition, results will be tweeted from @edecaria as they become final.

Here are the poems:

The Message on the Bathroom Wall
by Darren Sardelli

A teacher saw a message
written on the bathroom wall.
It said, “My teacher sniffles
when he’s walking down the hall.
His socks are always mismatched
and his pants are really tight.
His frugal wig is ugly—
It’s a horrifying sight!”

The teacher in the bathroom
felt a tear run down his cheek.
His body was in total shock.
He couldn’t move or speak.
He knew the kid that wrote this
should get after school detention,
but he was just delighted
that this student pays attention!


The Lobster
by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater

I once was cooking dinner, and I peeked into the pot
to see my water boiling. It was ready. It was hot.
I reached out for the lobster, but he hollered, I will not!
I will not be your dinner, Child. I like my life a lot.

Look into my face, and see the ocean in my eyes.
I am seven decades old. I’m elderly and wise.
If you eat me knowing this, I’ll haunt you with my cries.
Come! Let’s both escape this joint. Just find me a disguise.

The lobster wore my baseball cap. We rode down to the store.
(I’d never held a lobster on my bicycle before.)
He whispered, Fish Department, please. We need to rescue more.
Lobster kept a lookout as I snuck them out the door.

We made it to the ocean as the tide was rising high.
I clipped each rubber band. I listened to each lobster sigh.
The old guy gave me back my cap. It’s not my time to die.
I nodded as he shook my hand and raised his claw goodbye.



8-frugal vs. 4-boiling: Which Poem Did You Prefer?

  • 8-frugal (Darren Sardelli) (43%, 85 Votes)
  • 4-boiling (Amy Ludwig VanDerwater) (57%, 113 Votes)

Total Voters: 197

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GET OUT THE VOTE. The average pairing in Round 1 generated 154 votes. The average pairing in Round 2 generated 178 votes. Use the share buttons below and mention the madness wherever you go so that these poems reach more kids! And remember, encourage voting on EVERY MATCHUP, not just this one!

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  • Amy Ludwig VanDerwater

    Boiling water, Darren. That’s all we can afford, frugal as we are.

  • Stephanie Farrow

    Thank heavens you’re not thinking about boiling oil! It could get ugly!

  • Mrs harveys students

    Good luck!!!!

  • jone

    The poor teacher and the lobster. Both poems well done. Good luck.

  • Renee LaTulippe

    Wonderful match-up, poets! I loved both for different reasons. Well done, indeed. :)

  • Greg Pincus

    My vote is going into the pot and… no, wait, I’m like the lobster. I’m not in yet! It’s not my time to vote, cuz I have to read these again. And maybe again. Why must it be this way? Why??? And again.

  • Jeanne Poland

    “Teachers crying in the bathroom” is enough to make my magic mouse skitter across the page dragging the vote behind it!
    Jeanne Poland

  • Michele Krueger

    Applause for Amy,
    Saver of Claws!

  • Amy LV

    Darren – we didn’t write about the same topic or use the same words as some other pairings…but we wrote in the same meter! Funny! I enjoyed checking out your website too.

  • Darren Sardelli

    Amy – That’s the first thing I noticed when I read your poem – the meter just continues from one poem to the other.
    I think your lobster poem is awesome!

  • Amy LV

    Thank you, Darren! I think I was inspired by your funny poems! You’ve got a way of making that turn at the end – love the rhyme of ‘detention’ and ‘attention.’

  • Angela Lagrou

    Great job Mrs.Vanderwater…and good luck! I love your poem and your competion’s poem. I think you inspire a lot of people and kids to wright poems. :)

    • Stephanie Farrow

      Angela, This is the best comment of the entire tournament. Wright on!

    • Amy LV

      Thank you, Angela! I love reading all kinds of poems too! Your spirit here in the Madness has been wonderful!

  • Katya

    This was such a hard matchup to vote for… The kids and I really loved both of these for different reasons.
    We could really relate to the lobster poem. Last summer in Maine I was the only one who wanted lobster so I bought one to cook for myself. The kids named it ‘Steve’ to discourage its consumption. Unfortunately for Steve, he was not as lucky as the lobster in this poem.

  • Tiffany Strelitz

    Oh my goodness- you guys *both* rock! We should compile a book of all the poems written “under the gun” for MM!

  • Hannah Ruth Wilde

    When I lived in Japan, I was invited to a festive dinner in which we cooked our own seafood in a broth on the table. I small (very fresh!) lobster actually walked off the plate. I will NEVER forget those eyes looking up at me.

  • Amy LV

    The lobster poem grew from a Radio Lab story…if you are interested, listen to “The Luckiest Lobster.” It will crack you up. Heartwarming!

  • http://none Robyn Supraner

    Darren,you startle me! You’re rigtht on the mark every time – your verse flows and you make me laugh. Not an easy to thing to these days. I hope you win. I’ll vote every time Good luck!


  • Kathy Ellen Davis

    Very tough! Both great poems!

  • Darren Sardelli

    Congrats Amy! It looks like you’ve won this battle.
    I’ll be routing for you the rest of the competition.
    Loiking forward to reading more of your poems.

    Good luck!

  • Ed DeCaria

    It may be a tough final hour comeback, Darren, but congrats to you too for contributing three fine poems under pressure. You’re really quite a talent.

    And if you (or anyone else) want to read more of Amy’s work, know that she has two poetry collections of her own that will be published this year and next!


  • April Halprin Wayland

    Both poems tell whole stories. Well done, well done (not meant as a cooking term)!

  • Amy LV

    Darren – It was great to meet you here, and I hope we’ll meet in real life sometime here in NY! Thank you for the fun and the rhymeshare and your generous words. ‘Can’t wait to read your book! a.