REGIONAL SEMIFINALS: 9-grapple vs. 13-languish

[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:

by Suz Blackaby

Ferreting dogs that are poised for a treat
Must grapple with wrappings before they can eat.
Contraband clad in a cellophane sheath
Is crimped at the edges and fused underneath,
Hermetically sealed in a fancy foil jacket,
Fixed in the folds of a fortified packet,
Swaddled in styrene or buttressed in plastic,
Tucked into ziplocks or fastened with mastic.
Canines use canines to pierce, rip, and maul,
Then (briefly defeated) wolf wrapper and all.
A paper-free cupcake is gravy that comes
Only to those with opposable thumbs.


by Quinette Cook

Sent to my room without a good reason,
to languish for years – I yell, it’s treason!
The sun is still out. My friends get to play.
It’s not fair! Do you hear me? Then I say,
I’ll wither away. My stomach is growling!
But Mom just says, stop your howling.
You should have thought about that before
you hit your sister and made her sore.
Now read a good book or write a poem.
No computers, no TV, not even a phone.
So I pick up my markers and grab my pad.
I’ll write a poem about being especially bad.
Then in sneaks my sister with a slice of pie
Sorry, she says, for poking your eye.
Then she gives me one of her evil grins,
runs up, and kicks me square in the shin.



9-grapple vs. 13-languish: Which Poem Did You Prefer?

  • 9-grapple (Suz Blackaby) (61%, 135 Votes)
  • 13-languish (Quinette Cook) (39%, 87 Votes)

Total Voters: 221

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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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  • jone

    Love the words. Can’t wait to see the poems.

  • Mary Lee

    Cupcakes or pie…oh, my!

  • Renee LaTulippe

    Wonderful! Love the payoff in both poems. Thanks for the laughs, ladies — it’s a tough call.

  • Michele Krueger

    What can I say: I’m grappling with this decision, so I must languish on my couch, with a foil wrapped protein bar
    to weigh my options.

    • Quinette Cook

      Cupcakes. Pie. Snacking on your couch. Did someone say Hunger Games?

  • Amy Ludwig VanDerwater

    Suz – what dances with words and sounds within each line. Poor dogs! And Quinette…sisters! I cracked up at the end!

    • Quinette Cook

      Thanks Amy.
      A word serves as a prompt to write about what we know. I know about being grounded. I know about sisters.

  • Pam

    Both poems were great, ladies. Suzy, when it comes to getting at those sweet treats, I’m so grateful for my opposable thumbs! This was super! Quinette, languishing for years in her room? I love that! Way to go ladies!

  • Debbie

    Great poems! Quinette, ours could go together! LOL.

    • Quinette Cook

      We could start a family!

  • April Halprin Wayland

    I’m in Poem Stadium waving my poe-m poe-ms in the air!
    The pressure is mounting…go,go,go!

    It’s a tough call, but Suz’ profile picture wins by a mile.

    • Quinette Cook

      Linda Sue Park said she uses a photo of her dog in all of her school presentations – it gets/holds her audiences attention.
      Note to self: Listen to Linda Sue Park and find a photo of Jazz for next time! (He’s my Weimaraner.)

  • Kathryn Apel

    Quinette, that ending was so unexpected and funny. Not at all true, of course. ;) Well done.

    Suz; my dog was in and all over your poem. He loves patty cake wrappers! And has an addiction to chocolate from his previous owners. But we don’t feed it. Partly because chocolate is supposed to be doggy-dangerous, and partly because… It’s chocolate!
    Beaut rhythm and rhyme – fantastic. (Which rhymes with ‘mastic’ – a product I have never heard of.)

  • Suz Blackaby

    Re: my profile picture (in the interests of full disclosure): This seemingly merry, high-jinxy mood was captured by my daughter, who was being unhelpful as I was trying to wrestle Christmas Eve into submission, foodwise. Cooking. Like torture only worse. Lottie, at least making her wet-nosed effort to be supportive, was also unhelpful, hoping to snag carrots out of the vegetable bin. I, clearly in desperate need of actual help, was carefully trying to maneuver something-spilly-to-gel onto a shelf (aka overflowing and going EVERYWHERE) that didn’t have quite enough area or head room (for the item, not for me, though I appreciate the confusion). NOTHING. AND. I. MEAN. NOTHING. coming out of my mouth at that moment could have ever under any circumstances been published in any genre of children’s literature. WHAT.SO.EVER. Lucky it wasn’t a video camera.

    • jone

      It’s a pricless photo and the expanation only makes it more priceless.

  • Angela Lagrou

    Both,Suz Blackaby and Quinette Cook did a great job puting their words into their poem. GOOD LUCK! :)

  • Quinette Cook

    Congratulations Suz!
    Your poem was so well crafted I almost voted against myself, but I knew I needed every single vote I could get. ;)
    My husband said that your poem was the kind of poem a lay person would appreciate (him) – it was fun, the meter and rhyme were perfect and your word choice was excellent. I couldn’t have said it better.

    I’ll wrap up this compliment with one last comment – wait ’til next your when I kick your, well, shin! ;)

  • Judi Gardiner

    Hey Suz,

    you spin such a terrific web of words to create quite a story. Good job!