THE FINALS: *cultch vs. *ampersand

#MMPoetry 2014 Tournament Bracket -- Round 6 -- The Finals

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:

*cultch
A Penny for your Thoughts
by J. J. Close

My grandpa has this thing he does; he’s done it now for years.
He shoves a penny in his ear, then says it disappears.
He claims that this is magical, that I should be amazed,
I lie and look ecstatic, even though I think he’s crazed.

I think he might have tossed or lost his marbles to old age,
Or in his book, he may have over-galvanized each page.
But nonetheless, yes, I digress, I love him that I do,
for each and every thing he does – I’ll share a few with you:

Every single morning when the birds all sing a chorus,
he would stomp around the house impersonating stegosaurus.
And then again in evening when the bugs start to kerfuffle,
He pretends that he’s a dancer and he does the Cupid Shuffle.

On Mondays he would desiccate his sweatshirt and his shorts,
‘Cause every Sunday evening, he would play all my Wii sports.
“I get a little sweaty from the exercise,” he’d say.
“And so my clothes need drying from this rather busy day.”

On Thursdays he would clean the cultch and clutter off the yard,
From Wednesday when he’d play all day with Butch – our Saint Bernard.
‘Cause Butch was rather reckless when he’d run and chase and chew,
But not as bad as Grandpa, who would do all those things too.

On Friday, he would argue with three squirrels in our tree,
He claimed the nuts were his but they would rudely disagree
So argumentative, they’d give him cheek and then talk smack,
And then they’d throw the nuts at him… my grandpa threw them back.

Come Saturday, today’s the day, he makes things disappear,
It’s time to let him know, I know he sticks them in his ear.
However, after telling him, I’m not sure that he heard.
From all the pennies in his ears his hearing might be slurred.

vs.

*ampersand
A Letter on Behalf of Ampersand
by Samuel Kent

Dearest teachers & assistants,
Please adhere to this insistence.

It’s our mission to petition -
for its overdue admission:
alphabetical addition
of the letter Ampersand.

Though it neatly nestles nicely
‘twixt the “Y & Z” precisely,
and has a certain function
as a substitute conjunction,
we confess with calm compunction,
it’s abused as merely “and”.

We believe we have a duty
to this hieroglyphic beauty.
Let its usage be expanded:
written right- or leftward-handed,
“a – n – d” is ampersanded!
That’s our solemn, sole demand.

Think of effort we’d be saving
giving sentences a shaving,
making phrases much less “and”-y
& a lot more ampersandy
adding simple, shortened candy
to the words we write by hand.

With accelerated fleetness
we’d complete with nimble neatness
every note or memorandum —
spelling wouldn’t seem as random —
with the ampersand in tandem
at our everyday command.

With respect, we share our letter
for this character that’s better.

Signed sincerely by
Am&a,
Br&on,
&rew,
Alless&ra,
R&al,
C&ace,
& Mir&a
on behalf of Ampersand.

 


Public Vote (*cultch vs. *ampersand)
Final Results:
*cultch vs. *ampersand

Authlete Vote (ID Required)
Final Results:
*cultch vs. *ampersand
Classroom Vote (ID Required)
Final Results:
*cultch vs. *ampersand




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  • http://motherstreusel.com/ Mother Streusel

    Yay!!! Go guys go!!! I’m so excited to see who wins. You can thank me for that ampersand, Samuel. There was no strategy involved in my choosing it. I’ve just always liked that word and it was at the top of the list. To be honest, I doubt there is a word you couldn’t handle, and I would even go so far as to suggest that you particularly like writing poems difficult words. Good luck to you both! May the best poem/poet win!

  • Debra Shumaker

    Very excited to see the final two poems. Congrats to both of you for being in the finals! Good luck!

  • Elizabeth McBride

    Congratulations to both of you! I’m looking forward to seeing your poems! Enjoy the process!

  • Stephanie Farrow

    Go for it!

  • Allan Wolf

    No line limit, eh? That means the poets can be as sloppy and wordy as they want, right?

    • http://www.thinkkidthink.com/ Ed DeCaria

      I think you meant as cultchy & wordy, Allan.

  • Kristen Foote

    I’m so excited to see what you guys come up with!!! Best of luck to both of you!

  • Dave Crawley

    I am soooo glad to be watching from the sidelines this year, instead of biting my nails! You are both worthy finalists. Have at it!

  • Marcus Ewert

    CULTCH? CULTCH??
    “Surely that’s a typo!” thought I. But oh no. Ed DeVious DeCaria, at it again.
    Best of luck, Samuel and J.J. Y’all have turned in some stellar work thus far. Have fun!

  • Jean Daigneau

    Wow! This is going to be amazing. I already know I’m going to have a hard time making a pick! Great to see two such creative people making it to the finals. Good luck to you both – you deserve it!

  • Victoria Warneck

    At the risk of revealing too much about the state of my house following four rounds of MMPoetry, CULTCH is my favorite new word. AMPERSAND doesn’t require a dictionary, but it does make me awfully glad that I can relax on the sidelines, waiting to be wowed!

    Huge congratulations to all, regardless of outcome–

  • Dave Crawley

    Kent ampersand Close enter Final Round Gulch.
    We’ll find out which one can come through in the cultch.

    • http://www.thinkkidthink.com/ Ed DeCaria

      Delivered in true reporter style, Dave!

  • Damon Dean

    What fantastic word choices! Great challenges for both. I am waiting anxiously for the resulting poems…

  • julie krantz

    Wow, this is truly a difficult choice. Both poems are excellent, JJ ‘&’ Sameul!

    • Samuel Kent

      Thank you, Julie!

    • http://closejj.wix.com/meretricktheworm Josh Close

      Thank you! This was a fun one to write.

  • http://closejj.wix.com/meretricktheworm Josh Close

    Clever poem Sam, very well written!

    • Samuel Kent

      Thank you, Josh. Nice tactic using your previous words!

      • http://closejj.wix.com/meretricktheworm Josh Close

        It’s funny when you mentioned that you wouldn’t use my word, as I’d already had this one written. Glad we didn’t come to an agreement about our previous round words. ;)

        Technically, I didn’t use the words EXACTLY – had freedom with them this time. Outside of cultch…

        • Samuel Kent

          I think that would have been an unrealistic expectation. I considered using some of my earlier words in this one as well.

  • BJ Lee

    Both excellent poems with difficult words. JJ, I loved how you were able to incorporate your previous words – a neat trick! You guys surely don’t make it easy to decide!

    • Samuel Kent

      Thank you, B. J.! Difficult to write too, but a lot of fun! I’m grateful to have been able to participate and overwhelmed to have made it this far.

    • http://closejj.wix.com/meretricktheworm Josh Close

      Thank you BJ! I had a poem written about an oyster, but then decided that it was too clammy. :)

  • Buffy Silverman

    I enjoyed both of these poems–I love Samuel’s letter on behalf of his proposed letter, and his creative signers. And Josh, very clever trick to use all of your previous words–and your grandpa is quite the tricky character, too!

    • Samuel Kent

      Thank you, Buffy!

  • http://www.thinkkidthink.com/ Ed DeCaria

    Both poems have great lines embedded within. Josh’s has fun ones like “And then they’d throw the nuts at him… my grandpa threw them back.” While Samuel’s is bursting with lively lines like “We believe we have a duty / to this hieroglyphic beauty” and “making phrases much less ‘and’-y / & a lot more ampersandy”.

    What a finale …

    However this turns out, thank you both for delivering. AGAIN.

  • jake

    good job jj

    • http://closejj.wix.com/meretricktheworm Josh Close

      Thank you jake!

  • WEWHITE

    Good job jj my bro

    • http://closejj.wix.com/meretricktheworm Josh Close

      Thank you WEWHITE!

  • http://motherstreusel.com/ Mother Streusel

    I voted! I won’t admit who for though. Congratulations to whoever is the victor!!! A tough competition indeed!

  • Ryan Stockton

    These poems rock. You two are both amazing. Well, well, well, well, well… well… done.

    • Samuel Kent

      Thank you, Ryan!

    • http://closejj.wix.com/meretricktheworm Josh Close

      Thank you! Thank you! Thank you Ryan!

  • Jane Yolen

    JJ’s is a funny poem (though with a couple of bumps in the scansion of a few lines) but in my mind Ampersand is brilliant and boy! do I wish I’d had the chops to write it! Wowser. No idea who’s going to win this year, but it’s been fascinating to watch the match-ups, read the poems, and be in the thick of things.

    • Samuel Kent

      Thank you so very much, Jane!

      • http://closejj.wix.com/meretricktheworm Josh Close

        Thank you Jane! Yes, I’ve read it far too many times now that it flows – but I think I have a good idea where the bumps are – and it may or may not have had to do with this overzealous grandpa making a little too much noise. :P

  • http://teacherdance.blogspot.com Linda Baie

    Both poems are marvelous, JJ and Sam! & JJ used more than just his words, mine is in there too! Perhaps you can just pass the trophy back & forth all year! It’s clear that both of you
    are avid to kick up a ruckus when you write poems, & in the context of this
    harrowing & sometimes unpredictable yet always invigorating contest, I say
    you have both managed to make everyone rapturous about children’s poetry. &
    your fortitude is admirable. Well done!

    • Samuel Kent

      Thank you, Linda!

    • http://closejj.wix.com/meretricktheworm Josh Close

      Yes, thank you Linda! I’d happily share. :)

  • Catherine Johnson

    They are both marvelous! Great job guys.

    • Samuel Kent

      Thank you, Catherine!

  • olivia

    i like j.j. its a lot more kid friendly coming from me as a kid our whole class didn’t really understand Sam no offensive but j.j. i hope you win! :)

    • Samuel Kent

      It’s okay, Olivia. I’m grateful that you took the time to read both poems, and to share your opinion!

    • http://closejj.wix.com/meretricktheworm Josh Close

      Thank you Olivia! Either way I’m a winner – I think I may have written half a book of poetry during this competition… :)

  • Stephanie Farrow

    I love these, both of them! What I don’t love is having to choose.

  • Debra Shumaker

    Wow, what a hard choice. They both are incredible poems with words I am grateful I didn’t have to use! Not sure how I’m going to vote yet. . . .

  • Vikram Madan

    J.J. & Samuel congrats on making this a worthy final! Both poems are great but I found my jaw dropping at the hieroglyphic beauty (and rhythm) of ‘Ampersand’… so I think I’ve made my choice …

    • http://closejj.wix.com/meretricktheworm Josh Close

      Ampersand I understand completely if your choice is for Samuel’s – he used his word very well.

    • Samuel Kent

      Thank you, Vikram!

  • Allan Wolf

    Dang it, ya’ll. This is just good clean fun. Both Josh and Sam have done it again. I bet the classroom kids are going to like Josh’s wacky grandpa. Nice kid appeal. I predict Josh gets the classroom vote. I predict the author vote goes to Sam. Very clever dude (truly, I’m not worthy). To echo Jane Y, this is one I wish I’d o’ written myself. And I feel like you embraced your assigned word in content, form, & function. I predict this will be decided by the popular vote and that neither of these two fine poets will sweep all three judge categories. I can see both of these poems ending up in a published collection. Which leads me to my last prediction: if Josh and Sam are lucky enough to have an editor who is as brilliant as they are, the editor will look them both square in the eye and say, “This poem is brilliant. I LOVE it. Now make it shorter!” :)

    • Samuel Kent

      Wow! Thank you, Allan!

    • http://closejj.wix.com/meretricktheworm Josh Close

      Thank you Allan! That means so much to hear that.

  • Jacob Tepsa

    I agree with Olivia, but this is a really close one. Even though I picked J.J. Close as the vote, I bet Sam will do well. It was a very hard pick. Great Poem Sam, I am sorry I didn’t pick u but Josh had a great thing with the penny and the grandpa. Good Luck to both of you!!! Awesome Poems and hopefully you guys do well!!!

    • Samuel Kent

      Thank you, Jacob. I’m glad you read both and took time to decide. Josh wrote a great poem too, so there’s nothing for you to apologize for or regret.

    • http://closejj.wix.com/meretricktheworm Josh Close

      Thank you Jacob! Very well said.

  • DomD

    The two of you really brought your A game throughout the tourney, and your final entries did not disappoint. I read these with my 11-year old, who agreed with me on the winner of this matchup (shhhhh… We won’t tell!). I strongly feel that the real winners are the scores of readers and voters who got to experience the poetry coming from all the authletes. Great job to all!

    • Samuel Kent

      Thank you, DJ Dom.

  • Angie Kidd

    These poems are both clever in different ways. With the Thinkier on the line, thinking it over…

  • Heidi Mordhorst

    While I’d spend a week with Josh’s gr&pa anytime, for sheer skill and almost excruciating cleverness I’m with Am&a, Br&don, &drew, Alless&ra, R&al, C&ace and Mir&a. Thanks for the entertainment, both of you!

    • Samuel Kent

      Thank you, Heidi!

    • http://closejj.wix.com/meretricktheworm Josh Close

      I think Sam may have started something with this & thing, lol.

      • Samuel Kent

        Exactly as I pl&!

  • Quinette Cook

    What a matchup. Great job!

    • Samuel Kent

      Thank you, Q!

  • http://motherstreusel.com/ Mother Streusel

    Ahhh!!! Only a few hours left!!!

  • Matt Forrest

    Quite a bit of poetic prowess & wordsmithery on display here…well done, J.J. & Samuel!

    • Samuel Kent

      Thank you so much, Matt!

  • Damon Dean

    What rich and clever work. I am amazed at both, Sam and Josh, and can’t decide which way to vote.
    The endearing sketch of Grandpa is lovingly and tenderly humorous, and the symbol-suffrage movement petition is genius. What a way to end this battle. I am admirers forever of your wordcraft, guys.

    • http://closejj.wix.com/meretricktheworm Josh Close

      Thank you Damon – I will not forget where this competition started for me with Meretricious last year!

  • http://motherstreusel.com/ Mother Streusel

    Less than 30 minutes!!

    • http://www.thinkkidthink.com/ Ed DeCaria

      Less than 30 seconds!

  • http://closejj.wix.com/meretricktheworm Josh Close

    CONGRATULATIONS Samuel Kent! Well played, sir! This tournament has been a wonderful experience for me.

    • Samuel Kent

      Josh, thank you so much. It’s been my honor to compete with you!

  • http://www.thinkkidthink.com/ Ed DeCaria

    Josh: Thank you for contributing yet another kid-winning poem!

    Samuel: CONGRATULATIONS on becoming the #MMPoetry 2014 CHAMPION!!!

    • Samuel Kent

      Thank you so much, Ed! Thank you for your hard work and effort to put the whole competition on again. This has truly been wonderful!

      • Elizabeth McBride

        Congratulations Sam! Pure genius!!!!!

  • DomD

    The gulf between the authletes and classrooms is pretty astounding!!

    • http://www.thinkkidthink.com/ Ed DeCaria

      Next Friday, 4/18, I will post my first analysis of the 2014 tournament: Key overall stats and recap of the Public vs. Classroom vs. Authlete results.

      • http://closejj.wix.com/meretricktheworm Josh Close

        I won the classroom vote the last 3 rounds – 17-6 each time. I’d be interested to know the ages of the 17 compared to the 6. And whether it was the same 17, and the same 6 each time?

        • Heidi Mordhorst

          And in your career you will make the most money, I bet. Great run, Josh!

          • http://closejj.wix.com/meretricktheworm Josh Close

            Thank you Heidi!

        • http://www.thinkkidthink.com/ Ed DeCaria

          You ask. I answer. Of your last three matchups, there were a total of 34 unique classrooms who voted in them. Of those, 14 voted in all three, 7 voted in two of the three, and 13 voted in one of the three. Of the 14 that voted in all three, you went 3-0 in five of them, 2-1 in six of them, and 1-2 in three of them. Of the 7 that voted in two, you went 2-0 in six of them and 1-1 in seven of them. And of the 13 that voted in just one matchup, you went 8-5.

          SO MUCH DATA TO PLAY WITH. SO MUCH TO LEARN.

          For example, among you authletes, wouldn’t you LOVE to know which other authletes voted most similarly to you? Remember those computer-generated compatibility reports from middle school? It’d be like that, except for poetic love instead of fauxetic love.

          • http://closejj.wix.com/meretricktheworm Josh Close

            Wow, some coincidence then that it was the same total for each round haha. Thanks Ed.

          • DomD

            The math isn’t adding up for the classrooms who voted in two of them.

            • http://www.thinkkidthink.com/ Ed DeCaria

              Typo! Edited. Thanks.

    • Heidi Mordhorst

      Yes, but of course we grownups know best what poems children need…

      • DomD

        Yeah sure, just as I am sure they would agree we know what is best for them to eat too! #donuts

        • http://www.thinkkidthink.com/ Ed DeCaria

          Don’t forget beef jerky.

          • DomD

            We won’t get into what else is in that brown paper grocery bag…
            #moredonuts?

            • http://www.thinkkidthink.com/ Ed DeCaria

              DonETTEs, Dom, DonETTEs.

            • DomD

              Approximately 40 of them…

  • http://motherstreusel.com/ Mother Streusel

    Congratulations Samuel!!! Enjoy your Thinkier!!!! Way to go!! J.J. you did an awesome job…beat almost all of us, and dominated the classroom vote which is nothing to sneeze at. (I can’t believe it’s over!!)

    • Samuel Kent

      Thank you, Karyn!

  • http://www.thinkkidthink.com/ Ed DeCaria

    Another thing that I’m going to do at some point is talk to the teachers who were managing multiple official voting classrooms to hear stories about how class A voting one way and class B voted another (which has happened for sure).

  • Lori Degman

    Both of these poems were amazing!! I’ve had such a busy couple of days, I totally missed the voting – which actually is a good thing because I don’t know which I’d have voted for!! Congratulations to both of you! Great win, Sam!!

    • Samuel Kent

      Thank you, Lori!

  • http://www.thinkkidthink.com/ Ed DeCaria

    I would also like to take a moment to thank the person who shared this post on Google+. Without you, none of this would have been possible.

  • DomD

    When this anthology is published, it would be great to see a Special Thanks section dedicated to the individual teachers and school classrooms who voted in the class vote. It would be awesome to increase the number of classrooms in next year’s tourney by an order of magnitude (times ten, for the non-mathies).

    • http://www.thinkkidthink.com/ Ed DeCaria

      I never got around to posting a list of classrooms as I promised. Just too much going on. But one of them WILL still be getting the promised grand prize. Announcement date and other details coming next week!

      My target for next year will be 250 classrooms. This year we had almost 100 total signups, though I’ve yet to calculate how many truly voted and with what frequency vs. what they estimated. Yet another thing to analyze and almost certainly tweak for next year.

      • Holly Ritchey

        My classroom voted a lot more than predicted, because the students really loved participating. It even inspired several new poems to be written in my classroom without prompt, which was so exciting for me to see. Thanks for a great experience!

        • http://www.thinkkidthink.com/ Ed DeCaria

          You’re welcome, Holly. Comments like that make it all worthwhile, for both me and the authletes.

  • http://closejj.wix.com/meretricktheworm Josh Close

    Figured – competition is over, I’ll post the other poem I wrote for this round here. Didn’t spend much time editing this one since I wanted to go with the grandpa idea, but nonetheless –

    Ollie the oyster is one of a kind,
    In fact, he’s abstract and unique.
    Instead of a pearl inside you will find
    a diamond he hides in his beak.

    Alongside the cultch, he’d brag and he’d boast
    that he is the richest of all.
    And no one along the aquarium’s coast
    could take it, ‘cause they were too small.

    But then came the day, one particular lad,
    who tended to get in some trouble,
    Reached in and grabbed (out of sight from his dad)
    the oyster right out of the rubble.

    By aquarium rule, “KEEP YOUR HANDS FROM THE POOL,”
    And leave all the creatures alone.
    But the boy (like in school), disregarded the rule,
    ‘cause he wanted an oyster to own.

    But then once outside, in the breezy fresh air,
    he wanted to take a quick look.
    He sneakily pulled out the oyster with care…
    …but was robbed by a feathery crook.

    And now in a beak of a bird in the sky,
    Poor Ollie was dead to his rights,
    But lucky for him, he’s an ailing guy,
    Who is very allergic to heights.

    Within a few seconds, he let out a sneeze,
    and fell down 10 meters or more.
    Now stuck in a tree, near a patch full of bees,
    he must find his way to the floor.

    As fate then would have it, he met a new pal,
    A squirrel known simply as “Earl.”
    Who’d take him to home or a water canal
    In exchange for a pretty white pearl.

    He said, friend, with pleasure, I’ll give you whatever,
    Just please get me out of this tree.
    I can’t hold my breath out of water forever,
    So please carry me to the sea.

    “But first,” said the Squirrel, “before we depart,”
    “please pay up the pretty white pearl.”
    And that’s when the oyster, (who thought he was smart)
    said, “listen here, Earl the squirrel:”
    “I’ll make you an offer you cannot reject,”
    “I’ve a special fine diamond inside.”
    “Reach in, I won’t bite you – it’s yours to collect,”
    “Yes, it’s worth more to you than a ride.”

    The squirrel, (who gagged), said – “ I’m sorry, poor clam,”
    “Or whatever it is you might be.”
    “I will not buy in to your shady made scam,”
    “I’m allergic to diamonds, you see.”

    And so, with remorse, (for he knew it of course,
    that this oyster had in him some guts.)
    He took him by force to an underground source,
    and he buried him – (far from his nuts.)

  • Elizabeth McBride

    Incredible writing – BOTH of you!!!! Congratulations to you both for excellent creations throughout the competition, but seriously – this last round was astounding! I’ll be anxious to note where I see your names next :-) Fine job!!!

    • Samuel Kent

      Thank you, Elizabeth!

  • Dave Crawley

    Congrats to Samuel Kent, and to JJ Close for a great run! time to send the Stanley Cup of Children’s Poetry (The Thinkier Trophy) to its new home!

    • Samuel Kent

      Thank you, Dave!

  • Michelle Heidenrich Barnes

    Well done, you two! You make the children’s poetry community proud.

    • Samuel Kent

      Thank you, Michelle

  • Jane Yolen

    Belated congrats to both poets, but especially to winner Samuel Kent. Hard fought, well won.

    • Samuel Kent

      Thank you, Jane!