THE FINAL FOUR: *incontinent vs. *kerfuffle

r5 incontinent vs. kerfuffle

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:

Spring has Sprung: A Villanelle
by B.J. Lee

It’s time for a party to celebrate spring!
Let’s run with abandon, let’s race with the breeze.
A boundlessly joyous, incontinent fling

will let winter know he’s no longer the king!
Let’s fix up our bikes and let’s put away skis.
It’s time for a party to celebrate spring.

Let’s fly our kites high, holding tight to the string.
Let’s welcome the butterflies, beetles, and bees
with a boundlessly joyous, incontinent fling.

Let’s soar to the sky on the seat of a swing.
Let’s dance round the lilacs and crabapple trees.
It’s time for a party to celebrate spring.

The migrating birds are all back on the wing.
More crocuses, tulips and daffodils, please,
to brighten our joyous, incontinent fling;

for springtime is here! Let’s clap and let’s sing!
Let’s tumble and tussle and green-up our knees.
It’s time for a party to celebrate spring—
a boundlessly joyous, incontinent fling.


The Animal Jamboree
by J. J. Close

The flamingo danced Fandango as the dingo did the Tango,
while a Mambo dancing monkey munched upon a juicy mango.

The toucan does the Can Can and the bunny, Bunny Hops,
as the raccoon does the Rumba and the bullfrog belly flops.

The zebra does the Zumba and the tiger does the Twist,
while the walrus does the Waltz, (proclaiming he could not resist).

The snakes all Shake and Shimmy while the rhinos Rock and Roll,
as the lizards do the Limbo underneath a Limbo pole.

The jitterbugs, they Jitter while the rain goes pitter pat,
’cause the reindeers, they were Rain Dancing, a rat-a-tat-a-tat.

The Electric Sliding eel met the Salsa dancing shark
and they kissed under the moonlight, (it’s a good thing it was dark).

The foxes do a Foxtrot and the hippos Harlem Shake,
as the fish all form a Congo line beneath a frozen lake.

The bear, he Boogie Woogied, and the spider did the Swing,
while the hawk went Hokey Pokey, (but no hands, he used a wing).

The cows cause a kerfuffle when they tap dance every day,
which leads to Cupid Shuffling and cow pies in the hay.

I, my friends, intend to be a legend on the floor,
as I’ve made myself a dance that no one’s ever danced before.

My dance is called the Tootsie Wootsie Tootie Bootie Shake,
(And it’s actually quite helpful if you want to stay awake).

You start by tootsie wootsying, and then my favorite part’s
when you shake your tootie bootie and your tootie bootie farts!


Public Vote (*incontinent vs. *kerfuffle)
Final Results:
*incontinent vs. *kerfuffle

Authlete Vote (ID Required)
Final Results:
*incontinent vs. *kerfuffle
Classroom Vote (ID Required)
Final Results:
*incontinent vs. *kerfuffle

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  • Ed DeCaria

    NOTE: Voting will continue through Monday at 1pm CDT to allow more classrooms to vote! The winner will still receive a word for The Finals on Monday evening.

  • rjschechter

    Two fine entries. I’m especially impressed by BJ’s villanelle, a form you don’t see much in the world of children’s poetry, and which she handles beautifully. I wondered what she’s do with a word like “incontinent,” and it’s funny that she went in a non-scatological direction while JJ (perhaps anticipating that BJ would regale children with bathroom humor) is the one to close on a fart joke! Anyway, congratulations to both of you now that you face no more than one more round.

    • Josh Close

      Nail on the head there – looked up her word and left me no choice. :/

      We shall see if it comes back to haunt me. :)

      Nicely written Villanelle, BJ. Good luck to us both!

      • Ed DeCaria

        I thought this was a funny twist, too. J.J.’s poem was submitted first, and I thought it was a clever move to go with his own form of incontinence, but then when I saw B.J.’s I was like Hmmmmm … maybe that’s gonna backfire on him. Ay. Truly no pun intended there.

        • BJ Lee

          haha, Ed! We shall see what we shall see.

      • BJ Lee

        JJ – I like your poem too! and indeed, good luck to us both!

    • BJ Lee

      Thanks Bob! I tried to write potty humor, but I just couldn’t do it. I went with the 2nd meaning of incontinent.

  • julie krantz

    JJ–hee, hee, hee! Loved your cow-pies and tootie bootie farts. They caused quite a kerfuffle in my brain!

    BJ–spring and flings and kings and wings–what great subjects for a villanelle!

    • BJ Lee

      thank you, Julie!

  • Buffy Silverman

    Amazing poems, B.J. and J.J.–love the celebration of spring in this fine villanelle. And J.J. your language dances as well as your animals.

  • Malcolm Deeley

    Two very fun poems, JJ and BJ.
    I have to say your use of the alternate definition for “incontinent” (unceasing or unrestrained) was inspired, BJ. Your poem is pure unrestrained joy. And the villanelle is a marvelous form…nice to see it utilized with such skill.

    • BJ Lee

      Thank you, Mal!

  • Rebekah Hoeft

    BJ…love that you used that word, which, I had doubts about, so frequently and so fittingly! Happy to learn a new definition of a word! JJ…can clearly picture the animals shakin’ their thangs! So fun!

    • BJ Lee

      Thank you, Rebekah. I had no choice since I could not bring myself to write potty humor, although I tried, how I tried! :)

  • Renee LaTulippe

    BJ, your villanelle is just beautiful and joyous and skillful, and I love that you went against expectation to use the other definition of your difficult word. There is so much to enjoy here – I bet teachers will love this! JJ, I enjoyed your dance rhymes!

    • BJ Lee

      Thanks so much, Renee, for your kind words and your support!

  • Bonnie Bailey

    I really liked the way you used your word, B.J. Nicely done. I think your poem would be irresistible to kids, J.J. Also well done!

    • BJ Lee

      thank you, Bonnie! I hope it IS irresistible to kids!

  • Linda Baie

    Since so many of us, kids included, are still waiting for spring, your poem fits feelings of celebration across the country, B.j., & is a wonderful structure. You managed to “fling” the word at us more than once in a beautiful way! JJ, since my blog name is teacher dance, I love how you created all the fanciful dances. Wonderful final four poems!

    • BJ Lee

      Nice analysis, Linda. That was my plan exactly.

  • Ryan Stockton

    I am humbled by reading these late-round poems. Everyone so far has been dy-no-mite!

  • Catherine

    Beautiful villanelle, B.J. and fun jamboree J.J

    • BJ Lee

      thank you, Catherine!

  • Stephanie Farrow

    Another one of those how-in-heaven’s-name-can-I-choose pairings! You guys make it tough.

  • Quinette Cook

    I really enjoyed these poems. Super match-up!

    I, like others, was surprised with how BJ used her word. Nicely done. And I have to admit, using a villanelle so well is the icing on the cake.

    JJ made me wiggle and jiggle and giggle. (But no toots.)

    • BJ Lee

      Quinette – thank you! and I’m glad you had no *repercussion* when reading JJ’s poem! :)

  • Deb Sieber

    J.J. certainly is stepping it up with creativity and playful, humorous appeal. I’m glad he plans TO pursue a future of writing. B.J. is once again displaying her mastery of poetic forms while lacing them with delightful imagings. Who made that stupid rule that only one person wins! :)

    • Elizabeth McBride

      WooHoo! You said it, Deb! Why is it one poem wins? These are tremendous poems and I am amazed and truly overjoyed to see what good things you two have created from the word selections you received. Yes, J.J. – do pursue the writing! And B.J. – keep enjoying your fruitful career in writing! Congratulations to both of you on a GREAT round! So much talent!!!

      • BJ Lee

        thank you, Elizabeth!

  • Mother Streusel

    I have really been enjoying following this match up. B.J., your poem is extremely well-written and beautiful. The more I read it, the more I like it. It is light-hearted and enjoyable. J.J. you have matched animals with dances beautifully, and I’m very impressed by your creative mind. You have executed it so well. Very silly.

  • Debbie B. LaCroix

    These both are awesome! It will be fun to see which way the classroom vote tilts. I think I have an idea.

  • Barb

    Two fun poems! I was very impressed with both of them. They both have great meter and rhyme. I know how hard it is to write a good villanelle, so I voted for it.

    • BJ Lee

      thanks Barb!

  • Jane Yolen

    Not at all offended by fart jokes or poems, but the Incontinent poem simply blew me away (and yes pun intended.) If I could have voted for it twice, I would, (In fact I tried but it wouldn’t go through. (Pun not intended this time. )–Jane

    • BJ Lee

      thanks for your endorsement, Jane. That means the world to me!

  • Josh Close

    A fifteen minute villanelle for the form lovers, and my time in this tourney. :)
    By: J. J. Close

    I get one vote, alas, she gets two more.
    I’m running out of voters to maintain.
    Poetic form adoring voter core.

    Staying ahead or keeping up’s a chore,
    And honestly I feel it, it’s a pain.
    I get two votes, alas, she gets four more.

    I need my kids from grades three, five, and four,
    But weekends make it far too hard to gain,
    In defense of form adoring voter core.

    I may yet win this battle, lose the war.
    And move on to the final round in vain,
    For I’ll get five and they’ll get fifty more.

    But either way, I’m glad I opened doors,
    It might put my future on faster train.
    To obtaine an adoring voter core.

    So I sit back, relax and watch the score,
    Proud I’ve made it this far up the chain.
    For I get ten votes and she gets twenty more.
    I may have to succumb to voter core.

    • Buffy Silverman

      Thanks for the morning laugh, J.J. :)

    • rjschechter

      I do hope you tell your kids from grades three, five and four to vote for the poem they like best, not for the poet who grades their papers or decides how much homework they’ll be getting!

      • Josh Close

        Oh, I don’t teach. More of an aid/part time teacher. I do run a creativity program though. I’d very likely get there votes even if I told them to vote for their favorite, not for me specifically – because they’d vote for me because they know me. They’re kids. Regardless, it is no different than sharing it on facebook and saying “Vote for me.” At least in this case – I’m exposing the poetry to the target audience – children.

        Though, this round I was not able to remind the kids to vote on their favorite poems since the voting was friday-monday (school here was canceled friday – and voting ends before schools out monday)

        • rjschechter

          I know, Josh. It’s hard to come up with any truly fair-minded way to have a vote — and the very concept of a vote in the context of a poetry competition is problematic. The public vote has too much to do with how public a person the poet is, at the potential expense of a great poet who doesn’t get out much. The kids vote is too dependent on the judgment of kids, who are rarely hired as literary critics or acquisition editors at major publishing houses, and many of whom are asked to vote in match-ups where one poem or the other is above their heads (e.g., first graders voting on a match-up between a poem written for kids their age and a poem written for middle-schoolers). The authlete vote has the best chance of being “pure,” but even there, since the vote is not anonymous, there is the potential for cliques and such (since some authletes get around more than others). When all is said and done, it’s best to remember what we tell the kids, that it’s not about winning but how we play the game. And you and BJ and all the others have been playing it great!

      • Ed DeCaria

        Just so everyone is 100% clear, authletes with school affiliations do not have any advantage in #MMPoetry. Josh for his part has been fantastic about getting the teachers and students he knows involved in #MMPoetry to read more of EVERYONE’S poems, despite the fact that those kids are prohibited from voting in his own matchups (in the official classroom vote, anyways).

        • rjschechter

          Ed, I wasn’t referring to the “official classroom vote,” but to the public vote in which the kids can participate. Josh acknowledged that “they’d vote for me because they know me,” but he’s entirely correct that the same advantage accrues to anyone who happens to be able to communicate with a large and basically friendly constituency, whether on Facebook, Twitter, or being a popular teacher. As I understand it, this is pretty much the reason you stopped relying entirely on the public vote and introduced two other categories of voting this year. Still, since so many match-ups have been decided by split votes, the popular vote remains decisive in many cases.

          • Ed DeCaria

            The Public Vote is definitely still relevant — and still as influenced by social connections as ever. The intent of adding the two extra polls was 1) to give kids a way to participate conspicuously and directly, and 2) to ensure that eager fan support ALONE could not advance a poet to the next round.

            By those two measures, the new voting style has been a smashing success. I believe that there is still much room for tweaking (and likely something much more than tweaking), but very generally speaking, the new system is working as intended.

            Over time, what authletes will need to start to realize and accept is that, whether they like it or not, their platforms DO matter. Given /rough/ parity in time, talent, vision, strategy, and execution, who “deserves” to win a given matchup — the authlete who by circumstance cannot or by choice does not solicit public votes, or the authlete who can and does (and who, in the process, might just create a new kids’ poetry fan or two)?

            Any authlete who manages to win a significant chunk of votes from their peers or of a bunch of kids deserves to advance. So if those two votes are split (as they so often have been in this event), though I kinda hate to say it, it does come down to who can drive the most eyeballs to their matchup page. There are still good ways and not-so-good ways to do that — and if you follow the Facebook posts, tweets, and blog entries (as I do) you’ll see the full spectrum from “I’m fighting for my poetic life and I desperately need your vote! It only takes 30 seconds, I swear!” all the way to sincere pleas for objectivity or even praise for an opponent’s work.

            In the end, the only thing that matters is the writing, sharing, and reading of good poetry. And this entire event is just a cruel and clever means to that end.

            • Samuel Kent

              As a competitor who has both benefitted from and been eliminated by the public vote, I want to add my resounding praise for the addition of the Authlete and Classroom votes.

              What I like about the public vote is its ability to spread good poetry to people who would otherwise never be fans. I’ve heard comments like “I never liked poetry before, but seeing this contest… I finally get it” and “My kid is so excited about poetry, and he’s walking around using all of his new vocabulary!” Win or lose, sharing in their enjoyment gives me more reason to continue writing and honing my craft.

              What I disliked about the public vote alone was that it wasn’t always about the poems. Especially where poets with a wider fanbase is at play, it becomes voting for “this person I know” and less about the quality/content of the work of all of the competitors. But this year, I’ve heard from more students and teachers about how they are excited about the WHOLE CONTEST than I could begin to enumerate. They like feeling like their voices make a significant difference, and I’m glad that they’re sharing in the passion of so many talented-but-basically-invisible writers. Few of us have a wide public venue otherwise.

            • Samuel Kent

              What I coudn’t foresee, however, was just how unpredictable the authlete vote would be. Where some of the competitors vote for quality, it’s surprising just how out-of-sync their vote is from the public and (especially) classroom votes. I’m not sure whether this demonstrates that we’re out of touch with what our audiences want or if there’s a measurable amount of strategy going into the authlete vote; writers choosing to vote against an authlete in early rounds because there’s no way they want to face him or her if they themselves make it to a higher rank. I’d be interested in reading what the data show to support or disprove these hypotheses when the competition is said and done.

            • Greg Pincus

              I am not sure how you can tell that some competitors are voting for “quality” and others, apparently, not. Could be that we all use different litmus tests for quality – a perfectly structured and metered poem could fall down on quality if I think the content (or even the use of the key word) doesn’t match up to some (arbitrary!) line in the sand for me… and my vote could go to the one you deem as lesser quality. Who gets to say which one of us was voting for quality? It’s a moving target. Further, if authletes are “out of touch” maybe they’re voting based on quality only, not on how the poem plays to a reader… and that’s perfectly valid, too. Since you only know what your vote was based on, reading into others’ votes is prettttttty unlikely to tell you what was going on :-) .

            • Samuel Kent

              I agree that the definition of quality is – for the most part – subjective. It’s not entirely correct that an authlete only knows their own vote, though. Some authors are quick to divulge whom they vote for and why publicly, while others share privately. For some the rationale is based on the poem, whereas for others the vote is definitely for or against the poet themselves.

            • Greg Pincus

              Well, too, since all of us poets are supposed to be tortured artists, we might even intentionally vote against ourselves on principle :-)

            • Samuel Kent

              That is more true than I’d llike to admit.

            • Samuel Kent

              And forgive me if my statement was irksome. I sincerely meant no offense by my observation. Nobody is wrong to have any feeling about a poem one way or another. I merely meant to point out that by the nature of this being a competition and authletes having self interest at stake, there’s more than just the poem itself going into the authlete’s decision making.

            • Ed DeCaria

              I am going to really break things down using my POEMETRICS framework ( following the tournament this year. I mean REALLY break things down — the data will be part objective and part subjective based on my own opinions, but I will try to augment those with opinions of others culled/synthesized from the comments section. If anyone is truly interested in contributing, I will open up an online form and let people submit their own POEMETRICS ratings for any #MMPoetry 2014 poem. But otherwise, I’ll do it solo and then reveal the results in a series of posts at TKT, probably in May.

            • Greg Pincus

              I look forward to that, Ed! (And there’s a stray parenthesis in your link to poemetrics above so folks dont get here: ). I’d note that the opinions in the comments section all tend to respect the fact that these poems are written under “extreme” conditions… so the comments are largely non-critical. I also wonder, as you gather data, if you can ever sense whether the comments – particularly when some folks start discussing a “flaw” in one poem or the other – start shifting the percentages of votes towards/away from the prior trend. Or find out from teachers if they look at comments along the way with their classes…. So much data!

            • Jane Yolen

              I would really be interested, Ed, in knowing whether turn-around/surprise/gotcha! last lines in a poem or using body parts/butt/fart words get more classroom votes. Also whether more formal poetry wins more authlete votes. Whether authletes with platforms (FaceBook, twitter, school visits, etc) get higher votes in the general audience vote. Oh, and whether humorous poets tend to win in March Madness more often than those writing more serious poems. I have used all of the above here in MM and in my own books of poetry. But I haven’t done the actual counting over the years.

            • Mother Streusel

              I’d like to chime in and share EXACTLY how I voted in every round. This will be more detailed than some may like to read. First of all, I chose to be completely unbiased in who I voted for and to vote only for the poem. There were a few times I voted exactly opposite who I liked personally better (though in most cases being new I don’t know most of the athletes enough to like one better than another.) I also voted in EVERY match up.
              In most cases the person with the more amusing poem won, which ever one was more humorous and witty and surprising and fun.
              There were, however, exceptions. The first was if the not as funny poem impressed me with some sort of particularly good wordplay or sculpting of the words. While I may not have laughed, I saw a cleverness and verbal grace that impressed me.
              Another exception was death. I realize this is a very personal opinion and one I would not expect others to agree with, but I don’t like to mix children’s poetry and death. I don’t mind bathroom humor, but I don’t like to feel sad when reading poetry. I’m very sensitive.
              I also don’t like to work hard when reading poetry. If I had to really digest a piece to enjoy it, I was unlikely to vote for it unless I didn’t like the other poem significantly better. Sometimes a poem that made me work got my vote anyway because I wasn’t bowled over by either poem so I reread and then discovered the hidden gems in the one that required more effort. But they got lucky. I wouldn’t have voted for them if the other one had been more entertaining.
              I often didn’t vote for poems that were funny and witty but went on too long. The joke should not be so long that the punchline is softened. I also didn’t like ones that started funny but got less funny as it progressed. I felt disappointed.
              A poem had to have major problems for me to be turned off due to technical skill. If you haven’t noticed already, I’m a bit deaf in that area, so it didn’t matter to me as much.
              I almost always voted in sync with the classroom vote and only occasionally with the Authlete vote. I didn’t pay attention to the public vote…to me the public vote is more based on game strategy than poetic talent.
              I realized through all this that I’m not really a poet’s poet. I’m more of a sketch comedy writer or story teller who happens to like to rhyme. Because of this, my opinion is not often likely to match with those who are passionate about the art of poetry, but it is likely to match with the general public who often don’t have the patience for poetry. That being said, I do want to improve as a poet technically in order to further increase mass appeal.

  • ramkumar

    Not great … lyrics at times childish yet intresting and worth a read
    The migrating birds are all back on the wing.More crocuses, tulips and daffodils, please,
    to brighten our joyous, incontinent fling;

    • Josh Close

      They’re meant to be childish – this is a children’s poetry tournament. ;)

      • Mother Streusel

        Ha ha ha!!

  • Jon Barber

    that was terrible even worse then the last

  • Mrs. Kostraba’s Class

    First grade are cracking up the Animal Jamboree!! :)

  • BJ Lee

    Ed – some of my supporters are telling me that the public voting is closed to them. Could you address this right away as time is ticking away. Thanks Ed. ~BJ Lee

    • Josh Close

      might they have already voted this round?

    • Ed DeCaria

      It’s not closed. Votes still registering. They are probably sharing an IP address with someone else who already voted.

      • BJ Lee

        No, they are separate individuals in different states. I’ve received 3 complaints.

        • BJ Lee

          Could it be that if a lot of people are voting, it gets jammed? Just a wild guess?

          • Guest

            Grrrrrr, there’s just no way I can win – is there? :o

          • Ed DeCaria

            No. That is not possible. There is plenty of bandwidth and no “jam”. I assure you that there is no issue with the poll. It is possible that each of the three people in question is sharing an IP address with another person that has already voted (not with each other) — a family member, a colleague, another person in the same coffee shop, etc.

            • BJ Lee

              thanks Ed!

  • BJ Lee

    I’m out. Things have gotten ugly between Josh and I. I cannot believe he posted his 15 minute villanelle as if to say, see a villanelle is not that hard. I did one in 15 minutes. And a find villanelle it was too, Josh! Mine took something like 7 hours. You fight dirty and I’m through. Take it away, Josh.

    • Josh Close

      No intention to “fight dirty” with that. I was up by somewhere around 30-40 votes before going to sleep saturday night and woke up to a deficit. I thought, given the pace you were accumulating votes – than looking at your support from several others with probable large circles – I figured I was done. hence the tone of my poem.

      • Josh Close

        Given that I thought I’d run my following dry – as I wasn’t (at the time) willing to “ask people for votes”

  • Samuel Kent

    That was a NAILBITER!

  • BJ Lee

    Congratulations Josh on an exciting competition and your well-deserved win! I’m sorry for our misunderstanding. That was never my intent. We are both dedicated to bringing poetry to children and I’m proud that both of us have done that in this competition. I respect you both as a poet and a person. Best wishes and good luck in the finals!

  • Dave Crawley

    A nail biting public vote, and final decision 2-1. Very Close, JJ!

  • Mother Streusel

    I would actually like to get better at meter.
    Maybe there are other problems with my poetry, but that seems to be the one that is the most obvious.
    I have been thinking about how to do this. I am not sure that I am passionate enough about technical skill to take a class or study on my own.
    I was wondering if someone would like to be or could recommend a critique partner for me? It would have to be someone who is good with meter, generally likes my poems and sees good qualities despite their flaws, and thinks they probably would or already does like my personality.
    I am also open to joining a group.
    I definitely don’t want to put technical skill ahead of humor and fun and wit, but I’d like to grow to make my poems easier to read in general.

    • Josh Close

      For me, it was all about repetition I guess. I’ve looked back at things I wrote 3-4 years ago and the meter was terrible (and I didn’t realize it back then). Over time, the more things I’ve written, the easier it has gotten for me to hear the meter and write to it. If you want me to critique some things sometime when things get less busy on my end, I wouldn’t mind (at least to point out where the meter could be altered or something). It might help you get the hang of meter. I’m not really a seasoned veteran or anything, but I may be able to help a little.

      • Mother Streusel

        Thank you so much!!! Good luck this next round! I am thinking I might try to take my awesome losing poem from last round and see if I can fix up the meter for practice.

        • Buffy Silverman

          I agree with Josh that repetition really helps with developing meter, as does reading a lot of excellent poetry (if you’re looking for a list of great poetry books, the sidebar of 50 poetry books on this site is a fine place to start.) Also, you might take a look at this site:

          It’s a terrific site for help with meter.