REGIONAL FINALS: 9-exclusive vs. 6-probe

[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:

For the Birds
by Suz Blackaby

A crowning kingdom in a tree
Is home to denizens den-free,
An exclusive nesting site
Located at a dizzy height.

Though sundry cups and hollowed holes
May house frogs, bats, rats, mice, or voles,
Birds dominate the panoply
Of creatures in the canopy.

Bough to bough they frisk and bounce,
Tip and stipple, hop and pounce,
Launch and circle, soar and wheel,
Chirp and chitter, perch and peal—

                         The daily celebration
                         Of a flighty population.


Blue Sky Butterfly
by Kathryn Apel

Butterfly flutters

in summer breeze,

vivid colour dancing

on whispering wind…


it hovers


then wafts feather-light

upon daisy-dream petals.


Wings cinquième en haut

it stalks the bloom


unfurls proboscis


to probe pollen puffs…

savours the bouquet,

sipping sweet nectar

through a straw.



* Please note spelling ‘errors’ are Australian spelling. 


9-exclusive vs. 6-probe: Which Poem Did You Prefer?

  • 9-exclusive (Suz Blackaby) (60%, 168 Votes)
  • 6-probe (Kathryn Apel) (40%, 111 Votes)

Total Voters: 278

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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. The average pairing in Round 3 generated 224 votes. A nice trend! 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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  • Allan Wolf

    Hey Kat! I’m now in Fairfield, CT and have been without computer use until now. I landed to find that you scratched my virtuosos and have moved on to the Big 8! So I now bow out much richer for the experience and glad to have met you. So good luck probing for the inspiration for the next one!

  • Kathryn Apel

    Thanks Alan. It was somewhat daunting matching wits and words with you, and I too feel richer for the experience, and glad to have met. I’ll be on the look out for your Titanic collection and am in awe that you can write a whole book of sonnets!

    As for the next one… Yes indeed, probing for inspiration. It hasn’t struck yet… Eeep!

  • Kathryn Apel

    Suz, your photo has been enough to make me smile throughout the whole tournament – but now that I’ve read the explanation to accompany it… I chortle! Looking forward to reading your exclusive.

  • Quinette Cook

    I’m looking forward to seeing these poems. Good luck ladies!

  • jone

    Great words! Can’t wait to read both poems. Hope we don’t have to porbe you too much to get them written for this exclusive round.

  • Debbie L.

    Good luck poets! :-)

  • Pam

    Suz, I read your first line and I smiled. Delightful! Kathryn, your poem is quite visual, beautiful! Best of luck to both of you talented ladies.

  • Amy LV

    Wow! Once again, the poets are in subconscious-sync, both writing about flying beauties in such lyrical ways. Suz – your wordplay is again beautiful and ending dead on cool. Kathryn – the delicate language and line breaks are so perfect for your butterfly – “daisy-dream petals.” Sigh!

  • Susan Taylor Brown

    Lovely, lovely poems, both of these.

  • Kathryn Apel

    Wonderful wordplay, Suz. (Informative too – since there are a number of words there I’ve not encountered before.) Looks like we’re all a-flutter here today! :)

    Thanks for the beautiful feedback, Pam, Amy & Susan.

  • Catherine Johnson

    Both beautiful, well done ladies!

  • Michele Krueger

    Gratitude to both poems full of airy attitude and altitude! Both beautiful lyrics to keep us gazing up!

  • Sally Odgers

    These are getting SO difficult to pick between! Again, loved them both (this is the second pair I’ve looked at today). There’s a lot of clever word play in both. For the Birds has the clever rhyming that hits hard and fast, but in the end I went for Blue Sky Butterfly, for its subtle joys. The lines that got me in are
    upon daisy-dream petals.
    Wings cinquième en haut
    it stalks the bloom

    because they gave me such a vivid word picture and I’ve seen butterflies do just that.

  • Mary Lee

    Well, for such “cold” words, I think we both came up with beautiful, lyrical, evocative poems, Kat!

    Suz, I’m SO jealous of panoply/canopy!!

    • Suz Blackaby

      I feel the same way about focus/crocus. :D

    • Kathryn Apel

      I’m so glad you think so too, Mary. :) Your crocus is stunning – all your words are. You have a signature style.

  • http://none K.T. Lund

    I loved the imagery in “exclusive.” I want such a tree in my yard with such inmates. Thanks, Suz.

  • April Halprin Wayland

    I am floating in this celebration of words…!

  • Gabriel

    I especially love this abundance of verbs:
    Launch and circle, soar and wheel,
    Chirp and chitter, perch and peal

    They remind me of Gerard Manley Hopkins maybe.

    wafts feather-light upon daisy dream petals is also lovely.

  • Shemp

    I am sure I do not appreciate enough the amount of work that goes into such a competition. I am equally sure I appreciate the opportunity to participate, if only as observer and voter.

    Keep up the versus verses!

  • Stephen W Cahill

    Two beautiful poems. Two great poets. Great work ladies xx

  • Kathryn Apel

    Congrats, Suz. It will be a pleasure to read you poetry into the next round.

  • Amy LV

    Many congratulations to both of you! It has been an honor, Suz and Kat, to share this bracket with you…beautiful poems. a.

    • Kathryn Apel

      Aww. Thanks, Amy. What a lovely thing to say. An honour to share it with you, too.
      Thanks goes to everyone for the fantabulous supportive comments, both on this round, and throughout the tournament. And for coming to vote!

  • Angela Lagrou

    WOW,good match! Hard to make beautiful poems like those. I suprised, I guess there is two #1’s.

  • Jeanne Poland

    Dear Ed:
    No, I didn’t plunk down in an electronics store and recite my poem to an iPad. After buying an iMac, Apple invited me to take One to One Classes for $100 every week for a year. So I make appointments at the Store in Albany NY and have learned: iPhone with camera and movie camera (iMovie and iPhoto) how to use Garage Band for Music and voice recording, how to use a keyboard as plug in and virtually on my iPad, and how to run around with GOflex Portable Drive bringing my creations near and far.And your blog is still the friendliest and funniest I visit!!!
    Jeanne Poland

    • Ed DeCaria

      Sounds like a good investment!

  • Jeanne Poland

    By the way, what I do every day in my Quicksilver Studio is publish my books on Blurb.
    My poems can be viewed best online at free previews:
    Enjoy if you dare.