ROUND ONE: 8-thawed vs. 9-unnatural

[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:

Broken Soup
by Darren Sardelli

Before I thawed the frozen soup,
I dropped it on the floor.
It shattered like the purple vase
I elbowed at the store.
I couldn’t find a chunk of soup—
It thawed on Fluffy’s mat.
We’re now the only household
with a chicken-flavored cat!


Free Range Deranged
by Robyn (Hood) Black

The chickens are chasing a fox.
The pigs are painting their stall.
The sheep are doing algebra.
But, wait! That is hardly all.

The cow’s giving pink lemonade.
The collie claims he’s master.
The rooster is lullabying
this unnatural disaster.



8-thawed vs. 9-unnatural: Which Poem Did You Prefer?

  • 8-thawed (Darren Sardelli) (72%, 92 Votes)
  • 9-unnatural (Robyn (Hood) Black) (28%, 37 Votes)

Total Voters: 128

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  • Eric Ode

    Yikes! Another tough call! And both include chicken? Go figure. Well done, Robyn and Darren.

  • Robyn Hood Black

    Thanks, Eric! Loved your poem. (And how can one not love Darren’s “chicken-flavored cat”?!)

  • Katya

    Ooof. Some of these contests are so hard to vote on. I snorted my coffee when I read ‘chicken-flavored cat’. My kids are gonna love that one.

  • Renee LaTulippe

    Oh no, two with chickens! I love chickens! Too hard to choose….

  • Lillian Heckinger

    Hi Darren,

    Loved your thawed Broken Soup!


  • Sharon

    Robyn, I love your Deranged Free Range. Oh, for cows giving pink lemonade!


  • Penny Klostermann

    This was a very hard choice. Hard to choose…

  • laurasalas

    Two chickens? Which came first?

    Great poems–I especially love the chicken-flavored cat and the rooster lullabying:>)

  • Stephen W Cahill

    Wow Darren – you’re the real deal – I loved it!

  • Darren Sardelli

    Thank you for all of your wonderful comments. I’ve read alot of the first round entries – many of the poems are very clever. I’m really impressed!

    Robyn – you wrote an amazingl poem. I love the image of a cow giving pink lemonade. Where can I buy a cow like this?

  • Heidi Mordhorst

    Robyn, my favorite line is the sheep doing algebra, and Darren’s title is ace. Nice ones, both!

  • Ed DeCaria

    Darren, I love your attention to precise meter … such a key for me. I definitely got a kick out of the chicken-flavored cat line, too.

    The scene in Free Range Deranged was wholly unnatural. I have to say I give mental bonus points to the poets who have made their word the entire essence of their poem. Dave Crawley’s 13-falsetto was another one. He didn’t just use the word. He made the word come alive. Same with Robyn here.

    Nice job, guys!


  • Robyn Hood Black

    Darren, congratulations! And I hope to avoid being paired with you next year ;o) . Thanks to everyone for the kind comments. Ed – eat your Wheaties for the rest of these rounds!

    • Ed DeCaria

      RHB, look at the left sidebar: your message trails off after “Ed – eat your…” and I was terrified by what I was about to read when I clicked the link!

      Thankfully it was just a General Mills commercial. Phew!

  • Robyn Hood Black

    Ha ha! Oh I’d hate to be the one causing this tourney to be censored…! Really – I’m family-friendly!

  • Darren Sardelli


    I’m a firm believer that a good rhyming poem has to be written in perfect meter. It looks like you and many poets in this competition have mastered this technique.

    I’m looking forward to the next word.

    Thank you for doing this!