ROUND FIVE: *ignominious vs. *iridescent


Each authlete was assigned a word and given 36 hours to compose a poem.

Below are their entries. Read both and vote for your favorite!

Click here for authlete instructions. Click here for voter instructions.

Here are the poems:


*ignominious what does it mean?
Turtle Moon
By Buffy Silverman

On a warm moonlit night when the waves boom and break
a leatherback swims from the sea.
She scrapes with her flippers and digs a deep nest
then sets on an egg-laying spree.
She fills up a burrow with minuscule moons–
her eighty-four tiny white globes,
and shrouds them beneath a summit of sand.
They’re hidden from predators’ probes.
Leatherback Mama returns to the sea–
her tracks written down as she leaves,
her eggs unprotected from lizards and crabs,
mongooses, plovers and thieves.

On a cloud-covered night with a whisper of waves
leatherback eggs stir and hatch.
Thirty-two youngsters escape from their shells,
they chip and they scritchety-scratch.
They scurry, they hurry, they race to the sea
as predators gather to feast–
a harsh, ignominious end for new babes,
a midnight buffet for each beast.

On a cool moonlit night, in a vast lonely sea
four little leatherbacks drift,
diving for jellyfish, wandering, free,
their future’s an uncertain gift.



*iridescent what does it mean?
By Renée M. LaTulippe

Welcome. Enter. Sit right there
upon our finest driftwood chair.
We know that you’ll enjoy the show.
Our dancers are beyond compare.

Curtain up! Waves scroll back,
leave an iridescent track.
The stage is set, a wet tableau—
Sh! It’s time. Lights fade to black.

Up they pop from bubbling holes—
dancers playing tidal roles.
First the eyes, then toe toe toe—
pouring out crustacean souls.

Claws aloft in fifth position,
side chassé in repetition.
Pirouettes! Now fast, now slow.
They leave us breathless…

*** Intermission ***

Spotlights, formed by dappled sun,
show the second act’s begun.
Shore performers, row on row,
rise on tip-toe, one by one,

six legs bent in full plié.
Arabesque! Now grand jeté!
Then dancers disappear below
the sand at Seaside Crab Ballet.


Public Vote (*ignominious vs. *iridescent)
Final Results:
*ignominious vs. *iridescent

Authlete Vote (ID Required)
Final Results:
*ignominious vs. *iridescent
Classroom Vote (ID Required)
Final Results:
*ignominious vs. *iridescent

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’d 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.
  • In the Public Vote, anyone may vote, but only one vote is allowed per IP address.
  • In the Classroom Vote, you must be registered and logged in to vote.
    • Official voting classrooms should read and discuss each poem and then submit one vote as a class.
    • Students can then vote again individually from home.
  • In the Authlete Vote, you must be a 2015 authlete and logged in to vote.

Things to Consider in Making a Choice:

  • How well the poem incorporates the authlete’s assigned word, given its level of difficulty.
  • Whether or not the poem adheres to the poem requirements for the contest.
  • Precision: structure, meter, rhyme, syntax, etc.
  • Personality: creative imagery, language, metaphor, etc.
  • Power: makes you laugh, cry, want, sigh, think, dream, wince, scream, etc.
  • Plus One: it is a poem you feel drawn to share with another person for whatever reason.

Apply your own criteria as well! For more on the above concepts, check out POEMETRICS™.

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  • Randi Sonenshine

    These are both absolutely stunning and brilliant! How ironic that, yet again, the subject matter is so close in both poems.Outstanding, ladies!

    • RJ Clarken

      Y’know, I was pretty much going to say the same thing! No matter the outcome, you both poemed fabulously!

      • Renee LaTulippe

        I love POEM as a verb! We should make it a thing!

        • RJ Clarken

          Poof! And now it is!

  • Carrie Finison

    Absolutely gorgeous. I can’t possibly choose here. Congratulations to both of you!

  • Michelle Heidenrich Barnes

    How can I possibly choose between these two radiant poems!!!!

    Buffy, you have such a huge talent when it comes to taking your inspiration from nature to tell timeless stories. I absolutely love the mood you’ve created here.

    Renée, what a marvelous convergence of your love for the theater and your lyrical artistry. The whimsy in this poem is delightful. For one who has been confined to the sofa, clearly your imagination feels no such constraints.

  • Renee LaTulippe

    Buffy! You already know I’m a huge fan. Your poetry never lets me down, and I so admire your artistry with nature poems in particular. Beautifully done. I would be really content to lose to you. I would not be crabby at all. :)

  • Buffy Silverman

    And I am blown away by your poem–love the clever way you wove together a ballet performance and dancing crabs. And intermission!–that line was a stroke of genius. It would not be an ignominious end to bow out to your seaside ballet, Renee.

  • Matt Forrest

    Such fantastic work, my friends! You should both be proud of yourselves. Going to need some time to figure out how to vote…!

  • Patti Bumpus Richards

    Oh my goodness! You two are absolutely amazing! I tip my poetic hat to you both! Now, how to choose? Thanks for such wonderful poems ladies!

  • Julie Rowan-Zoch

    Gah! How is it that you two can perform so beautifully under such pressure? Congratulations to both Randi and Renée!

    • Renee LaTulippe

      You mean Buffy! :)

      • Julie Rowan-Zoch

        Too funny! I wrote Buffy’s name first, then for whatever reason I switched it to Randi! Coffee kicked in and jumped a track!

        • Randi


  • margaret simon

    These are both fabulous works of art. I can’t decide. You two have blown me out of the water with your beautiful sea turtles and dancing crabs.

  • rjschechter

    Two wonderful poems. Apart from being very well written, I love that we have a match-up of poems that do not take place at school and do not feel they must address child-specific themes and child-specific circumstances in order to qualify as children’s poetry. Neither poem panders, patronizes or condescends to children, or seeks to reduce a child’s interests or curiosity to silly jokes or punchlines or familiar and stereotypical children’s scenarios. I like children’s poetry that fully respects children as people and readers. Renee and Buffy both write that way, and it’s wonderful to see that this approach has taken them both to the final four and will land one of them in the finals.

    • Renee LaTulippe

      Thank you so much, Bob! I agree that children can certainly relate to the same topics and themes as the rest of us humans, and that they deserve writing that speaks to all their experience and interests.

      • rjschechter

        It’s almost as if they’re humans themselves!

        • Renee LaTulippe

          I know! Shhhh…..

          • rjschechter

            But seriously, don’t misunderstand me as saying that poems with child-specific themes don’t also have their place, or that children’s poems should never be funny. I guess what I’m looking for ideally are “children’s poems” that adults can enjoy directly, not just vicariously through their children. At our best, we should be trying to write children’s poems that children won’t outgrow.

            • Renee LaTulippe

              Nicely said, Robert. I really like “we should be trying to write children’s poems that children won’t outgrow” — a most excellent goal. :)

            • Randi


  • Rebekah Hoeft

    Well done, ladies!

  • BJ Lee

    Buffy and Renee – You’ve really pulled out all the stops. What wonderful, clever poems from both of you! How will I possibly choose?

  • Jpacic

    My fifth grade class was struck with how similar these two poems were in describing seashore life cycles. It has been pretty amazing to see how the two poets in several match-ups seem to be tuning in to the same cosmic wavelengths. Several students loved how Turtle Moon used indelible language to paint a poignant picture of the struggle of the leatherbacks to thrive. In Seaside Crab Ballet, my students quickly noticed the intriguing rhyme scheme, and wrote to me that they felt this poem had beautiful language.
    I absolutely love the use of extended metaphor to explore crab as predator. the imagery in both poems was off the hook! Kudos!

    • Renee LaTulippe

      It’s always so gratifying to hear how students respond to and think about a poem. Thank you for sharing your students’ experience and thoughts with us. :)

    • Buffy Silverman

      Thanks so much for sharing your students’ reactions–and for encouraging them to read and enjoy poetry!

  • Samuel Kent

    These are two of the best entries in the history of the competition. Both of you deserve to move on to the next round.

    • Renee LaTulippe

      High praise, Samuel! Thank you so much!

    • Buffy Silverman

      Thank you, Samuel–kind words, indeed. And thanks to everyone who has taken the time to read and comment!

  • Ed DeCaria

    If you noticed more time suddenly on the countdown, it’s because I had the wrong date programmed in. Round Five polls close on Sunday night, not Saturday night. Sorry for any confusion.

    • lillpluta

      Oh good. I thought I was in some weird time warp, because I thought it said 24 hours around this time yesterday.

  • Amy Moore

    These are both just wonderful!

    Renee, I am working away at a “mermaid ballet” story and the imagery in yours just blew mine away. What an inspiration for this ballet-lover! Just gorgeous!

    • Renee LaTulippe

      Thank you so much, Amy! A mermaid ballet sounds lovely! :)

  • Carol Samuelson-Woodson

    Love the way both give kids something to think about. Ungainly crabs executing the graceful movements of ballet challenges the imagination. And Buffy’s last line is inspired.

    • Renee LaTulippe

      Grazie, Carol!

    • Buffy Silverman

      Thanks, Carol!

  • lillpluta

    Wow … what a squeaker. I enjoyed both of these immensely. Congratulations, Buffy.

  • Ed DeCaria

    And the results were as close as the poems were incredible! Renee, you are such a talent. Thank you for gracing the event with your presence and poetry for another year. And Buffy — congratulations on making THE FINALS! And for earning your TENTH #MMPoetry win, making you the winningest authlete in history! Good luck in The Finals …

    • RJ Clarken

      Congratulations to both poetesses! Well done!

    • Renee LaTulippe

      Thank you, Ed! I had a great time this year and am so pleased to have had the opportunity to write all these poems!

    • Buffy Silverman

      Thank you, Ed–yikes, I did not expect this result!

      • Ed DeCaria

        Well, you deserve it. With all due admiration and respect to Renee, who is amazing on so many levels and who herself wrote another knockout poem in “The Seaside Crab Ballet”, “Turtle Moon” is unignominiously (<–not a real word) impressive, and publishable ANYWHERE (and I for one hope to see it again somewhere else beyond TKT), added to a long list of them written by you in this event.

        • Buffy Silverman

          Thank you Ed–from your lips to an editor’s ears!

  • Janie Hogan-Summers Lazo

    Congratulations Buffy! I can’t wait to read your poem from next round!

    • Buffy Silverman

      Thank you, Janie!

  • Renee LaTulippe

    BUFFY! I hate to say I told you so, but…. :) CONGRATULATIONS!!!!! You are one classy poet and this win is beyond well deserved. I can’t wait to see what you bring us in the finals. AND — you broke a March Madness record! WAHOOOOOO!!!!!!

    • Buffy Silverman

      Thanks Renee–as you know, I really thought you had this one in the bag. Your Seaside Ballet was astonishingly original and creative.

      • Randi

        This match was by far the most evenly paired, difficult to predict pair. Had you two been on opposite sides of the bracket, you most likely would have faced each other in the final round. Congratulations to both of you for your beautiful Round 5 poems! Buffy, a loss to you would not hurt my feelings a bit! ;)

  • BJ Lee

    congratulations, both of you! Winning poems all around!

  • Dave Crawley

    Both wonderful poems. Makes me want to go to the beach…

  • Carol Samuelson-Wooddson

    Congratulations, Buffy! Both of these were outstanding, but Buffy’s last line, last stanza really, was haunting, unforgettable, universal. Lots for kids to ponder as is true of the very best of children’s writing.

  • Jackie

    Stunning. Truly stunning. Gobsmacked. Thank you!

  • Carol Samuelson-Woodson

    Congratulations, Buffy! Both of these were outstanding, but Buffy’s last line, last stanza really, was haunting, unforgettable, universal. Lots for kids to ponder as is true of the very best of children’s writing.