Ed’s Top Ten Favorite March Madness Poetry 2012 Poems: #1

We’re now just ONE day away from the start of March Madness Poetry 2013! 32 of 64 authletes will receive their first round words Monday evening, and the 36-hour writing window will begin! The other 32 authletes will receive their first round words on Tuesday evening, and we’ll find ourselves immediately at “peak madness” on Thursday when ALL 64 POEMS are up for vote at the same time!

Before it all begins again, I will conclude my one-a-day postings of my Top Ten favorite poems from #MMPoetry 2012 with my personal favorite poem of the entire event, one written by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater prompted by her 4-seed word “control” in the second round:

4-control
Instinct
by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater

A star nosed mole cannot control
the fact she needs to dig a hole.
She feels it in her furry soul.
Tunnel, Small One. That’s your role.

And so she waits for worms to fall
through earthen ceiling, dirt-pressed wall.
She paralyzes one and all.
Dig. Kill. Dig. She hears the call.


This poem captured 83% of the vote in its matchup (despite going up against a lovely poem by Jeanne Poland using the 12-seed word “amorphous”) and helped Amy reach the Sweet Sixteen. This poem is stunning, and exhibits the control that Amy herself has as a poet. There are so many directions one could take with a word like “control”, but Amy’s unique perspective takes her underground and inside the mind of a tiny but fascinating creature, which she at once exposes and celebrates for everything that it is. And she does so in a way that makes her prompt word the centerpiece of her poem, both in terms of the imagery and the emotion that it creates. Reading this, much like the star nosed mole itself, I cannot control my reaction, which is one of paralyzing conflict where I feel drawn to take a step forward and backward at the same time, in admiration and fear of this creature. And what is most amazing is that this conflict persists no matter how many times I re-read this poem. I feel it all again … every time.

Click here to see this poem as it originally appeared in #MMPoetry 2012.

Click here to learn a bit more about the star nosed mole.

CLICK HERE TO BUY AMY’S FIRST POETRY COLLECTION FOREST HAS A SONG, released March 26, 2013.

#MMPoetry 2013 begins tomorrow! Join the madness.

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  • http://www.poemfarm.amylv.com Amy Ludwig VanDerwater

    I am simply humbled, Ed. I learned a lot playing last year, and I’m looking forward to reading every poem this month. Thank you so much. Yours, Amy

  • http://www.laurasalas.com laurasalas

    Ooooh. That. Is. Fabulous!

  • http://readingyear.blogspot.com Mary Lee

    I <3 this little mole!

  • http://www.NoWaterRiver.com Renee LaTulippe (@ReneeMLaTulippe)

    Oh, Amy LV. She has such a distinctive voice and perspective and style, exemplified in this poem. It was during MM2012 that I got to know her work, and she has become my absolute favorite — and that’s saying a lot because I don’t have favorite anything. She’s a word Midas!

  • Janet F.

    Wonderful poem, Amy, warm congratulations and thanks for showing it to us again, Ed. I have to say I would have to re-read all the poems from last year to come up with my top ten, though that is an interesting thought! Did I hear you say you might be creating a book for 2012 as well as 2013? This one would be a good one to learn by heart in science class or just for nature and fun!

  • http://www.mirandapaul.com Miranda Paul

    Amy’s poem is GREAT and I just looked up her book, FOREST HAS A SONG, which looks Amazing! I am not a typical pre-order buyer, but this one has convinced me. Way to go everyone who took place in this fun event!

  • Michel Krueger

    Holy Moly, Amy, this is your month! And thanks, Ed for refreshing my memory about so many well crafted poems.

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

    Amy’s gifts of approach with many topics are many-what a beautiful poem to remind us all about Ed. Now I am really nervous, but still excited to give it my every mindful word! Happy MM everyone!

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

    Okay, I’m so nervous I repeated ‘many”. I meant to say Amy’s approach with many topics is terrific. Egads, my own word arsenal is shrinking!

  • http://www.quinettecook.com Quinette Cook

    What a wonderful top ten! Thanks alot, Ed, for reminding us how much competition we’re facing!

  • http://www.pennyklostermann.com Penny Klostermann

    I have thoroughly enjoyed the Top Ten. Amy’s poem today is genius!

  • http://www.buffysilverman.com Buffy Silverman

    I am in awe of the poems you’ve posted for the last 10 days. And even more terrified about the competition (but honored to be in the company of so many wonderful poets.) Love this star-nosed poem.

  • Carrie Finison

    I’m completely at a loss for words, reading this. Is that bad, a day before the contest starts?

  • http://sevenacresky.wordpress.com Damon Dean

    Me too Carrie! And I’m awed by the top ten Ed.
    This is exciting and at the same time I am wondering if I will stand long against such talent.
    I can dribble but will my feet move?

  • http://catherinemjohnson.wordpress.com Catherine Johnson

    Forest has a Song is going to be beautiful and on my book shelf, that is all.

  • Janet F.

    Here is happy me in the “how lucky am I?” department. Back in November there was an online auction to help the Sandy victims. Donations went to the Red Cross. Our VERY generous Amy LV offered TWO signed copies of Forest Has a Song along with a Skype author visit!! And I won. It was SUPER win-win all the way around. My friend’s lucky 3rd grade class (I retired 2 years ago, but volunteer) will get to meet Amy, my school library will get a copy of her book and I will have one of my own. Plus I did something for my Long Island “clan” since I grew up and still have family there. (Luckily only minor ill-effects for them.) I hope Amy doesn’t mind this share, but I wanted to show how the beauty that shines in her poetry extends from a core of genuine caring. Good luck to all authletes!!! I am promising to vote the poem NOT the poet, however!!! (But it will be hard since Amy’s poems continually delight!)

  • http://gottabook.blogspot.com Greg Pincus

    Great choice, Ed! I thought this was staggeringly wonderful, ignoring the fact that it was done in 36 hours. That it was… well… my pen is doffed to Amy!

  • http://www.childrensauthorbjlee.com B.J. Lee

    amazing poem! Thanks for posting, Ed. Thanks for writing, Amy!:)