March Madness Poetry (#MMPoetry) brings the excitement of the NCAA March Madness tournament to the world of kids’ poetry. 64 poets from around the world participate in the event; together, these poets write 126 new kids’ poems in just three weeks: IT’S MADNESS!
Here’s what people have said about #MMPoetry:
“A mini-version of The Hunger Games – poets duking it out, rising to victory or falling in defeat, until one bruised and battered poet emerges victorious! Ouch!”
“This is true edge-of-your-seat live poetry … all the blood, guts and glory.”
“What is amazing to watch is the direction each poet goes in; Live poetry is riveting!”
“I’ve read more poetry in the last two weeks than in the last two years.”
“An epic event, masterfully organized, and enjoyed by poets and sports fans alike!”
“Thank you for catalyzing so much banter about the beauty and power of language!”
“Total crazy fun.”
How does #MMPoetry work, exactly?
The tournament is organized into four separate brackets of 16 poets (also known as “authletes”). In the NCAA tournament, teams are seeded based on their performance over the season. In this tournament, however, seeds have nothing to do with an authlete’s credentials — instead, seeds reflect the difficulty of writing kid-appropriate poems using certain words. Seemingly impossible-to-use words like “milquetoast”, “pseudonymous”, and “rigidity” are given poor seeds, while more intuitive words like “dent”, “gripe”, and “ruckus” are given very good seeds.
In each round, two authletes face each other in a prompted poetry pairing. But that’s only half of the madness — the other half? Poets are only given 36 hours to compose their poems! Kids, other poets, and fans then vote for their favorites, and winners move on to write again the next day! (And sometimes THE SAME DAY.)
64 authletes become 32, then 16, then eight, then four, then two, and then ultimately one is crowned the March Madness Poetry Champion. He/she is awarded one year possession of The Thinkier trophy, named after #MMPoetry2012 authlete Allan Wolf’s uncannily creative use of the 15-seed word “kinkier” in his first round poem that year.
What’s new for 2015?
- DAILY giveaways for classroom/student voters.
- More balanced, streamlined (but no less intense!) schedule of writing and voting.
- By design, all 32 Round One polls will wrap up on the same day — half in the early afternoon, half in the evening — making March 12, 2015 the first ever official “Mad Poetry Day” (the final name of which we will decide together after the event ends, via internet vote of course).
- The #MMPoetry Job Fair, opening up opportunities for the community to contribute formally and directly to the event beyond writing and voting. As noted last year, the event is now too big a job for one person, so I will be putting out a call for assistance in various capacities. Stay tuned.
- More prominent use and display of statistics, including the soft introduction of POEMETRICS™ into the flow of the event.
- Maybe 1-2 other features depending on how the aforementioned Job Fair goes!
#MMPoetry 2015 kicks off with the unveiling of this year’s bracket LIVE via Google Hangouts on Selection Sunday — February 22, 2015.
The first words will be assigned on Sunday, March 8th, and the first poems will be up for vote on Tuesday evening, March 10th.
See the full 2015 #MMPoetry calendar page for the day-to-day schedule in all its color-coded glory.
Ready, set, go!
AUTHLETES: The authlete application window is now open! Apply now … before it’s too late. [EDIT: Closed! If you want to be added to my “reminder” list next year, send me a private email or contact me through the sidebar.]
TEACHERS/STUDENTS: You can register your classroom anytime from now until the end of the event! Visit the official classroom registration page for details.
Enjoy the madness …