Authlete Instructions

Authlete Instructions

  1. You will be assigned a single word.
  2. Use the word to write a kid-appropriate poem in under 36 hours.
    • Be sure to comply with all poem requirements.
    • Be sure to review and revise your poem before submitting. Submitted poems will be published AS IS without editing or feedback.
  3. Submit your poem via e-mail by the posted deadline.
    • You will receive a confirmation email.
    • If you miss the deadline, your opponent will be awarded one extra vote for each hour your poem is late.
  4. Your poem will be posted online. (You and your opponent share a dedicated page for your match-up.)
  5. Voting begins as soon as the page is opened to the public!


Poem Requirements

  1. The assigned word must be used somewhere within the body of the poem.
  2. The assigned word must be used exactly as written — authletes may not change the tense or grammatical form of the word.
  3. Every poem must have a title.
  4. Poems should be appropriate for kids aged 7 to 15.
    • Authletes: If your poem is geared to a younger (0-6) or older (16-18) age group, indicated this in your submission e-mail and the poem will be flagged as such.
  5. Poem length:
    • Poem length limits will be in place for each round. Authletes may break up lines of verse into multiple horizontal lines, such that the poem effectively fits within the round limit but visually exceeds it. For example, my poem “Skinny” is really only four poetic lines, but is spaced visually on a far greater number of individual lines.
    • Line limits by round:
      • Rounds 1 and 2: 8 lines maximum
      • Rounds 3 and 4: 16 lines maximum
      • Rounds 5 and 6: any number of lines is permissible
    • Poems may have any number of stanzas.
    • Blank lines do not count toward the line limit.
  6. No custom fonts, illustrations, or photos.
  7. Use of italics, bold, and underline is okay.
  8. Custom spacing is okay, but beware that not all layouts transfer easily onto the web, so best to keep this to a minimum.
  9. The name of the region to which each authlete is assigned (Humor, Empathy, Logic, or Passion) has nothing to do with the writing challenge itself. These names are used for organizational reasons only.
Like it? Share it!



Like me? Subscribe to TKT!


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

    Yes! a framework.
    (I like fences.)
    I can do this–least one round.
    Wond’ring as a
    New first-timer
    I was desperation bound.
    Now with rules for
    Rhyme and rhythm
    Confidence is newly found.

  • http://www.ericode.com Eric Ode

    Ed, just to be clear, would you count Damon’s poem above as nine lines or as five? (Terrific poem, Damon!)

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

    Great example, actually.

    To me, it reads as six lines broken into 9. Now laying it out this way is a risk the authlete takes, though. Do you want to be even perceived as breaking the rules? Could cost you votes.

    In this case, does it really harm the poem to be written as:

    Yes! a framework. (I like fences.)
    I can do this–least one round.
    Wond’ring as a new first-timer
    I was desperation bound.
    Now with rules for rhyme and rhythm
    Confidence is newly found.

    or

    Yes! a framework. (I like fences.)
    I can do this–least one round.
    Wond’ring as a new first-timer
    I was desperation bound.
    Now with rules for
    rhyme and rhythm

    Confidence
    is newly found.

    Either is now more clearly within the 8-line limit.

  • http://www.AprilWayland.comalsowww.TeachingAuthors.com April Halprin Wayland

    Love your “Skinny” poem, Ed–very clever.

    Maybe next year it would be better to be black & white and set word limits?

    Just a thought.

  • Janet F.

    From my teacher’s stance: Perhaps show the poem in the authlete’s preferred line arrangement and also include the authlete’s poem in its “true” 8 line limit version? That way it might give a clear visual that the authlete was in fact following the rules.

    You could also include a brief note about that “issue” when each pair is posted.
    This is poetry after all….you know poetic license and all that……just an idea to consider.

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

    Love the skinny poem and I love all this playing with Damon’s poem. Great organising, Ed. I don’t know how you think of everything.

  • Janet F.

    I am offering a word. Take it any way you like: demonic!!! OMG.

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

    The worst is yet to come …

  • Janet F.

    Jeez…..true……phew!!!! Hmmmmm……

  • Janet F.

    Ed wants to hear what we (mainly you authletes) are really thinking. Anyone want to take a stab????? Keep in mind I am a very non-violent person.

  • http://susantaylorbrown.com Susan Taylor Brown

    I don’t think it’s fair to ask Ed to rearrange poems to fit within length requirements.

    Damon’s poem is great but if I saw that as an entry for me to vote on I wouldn’t vote for it because to me, as it is shown, it is 9 lines long and I would have viewed it as someone who broke the rules and I would vote for the other person. My two cents.

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

      Right, Susan. And my point was that this poem reads fine as a 6 or 8 line poem, so why risk it? I leave the option open because some poems, as in my Skinny example, might want to do some sort of layout that is ESSENTIAL to what the poem is trying to communicate. But otherwise, I would just recommend authletes stay within the posted round limit.

  • Carrie Finison

    I’m in flight 2, so I can sit back quite comfortably and appreciate all these words tonight. It’s quite a wonderful collection! I only had to look up the definitions of two of them. Some faves: ‘Abscond,’ ‘razed,’ and ‘herculean’ should be quite fun to work with, I think. I’m looking forward to seeing what Angie Breault does with ‘wassailing,’ and Melinda Harvey will get a round of applause from me if she even submits anything with ‘anthropomorphization.’ Sheesh!

  • Janet F.

    I didn’t mean for him to rearrange it. Since he says Skinny works…..I was thinking the authlete would submit it as 8 lines but the preferred linebreaks….just a thought….but I get what you mean.
    Maybe I am wrong about the interpretation of the Skinny poem?

  • Janet F.

    I meant “show the preferred linebreak that was beyond the 8 lines”…..some poems look better long and thin…..IMHO…..but I like that better than a word limit that April suggested…..

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

    I think that the most controversial one of this flight is almost certainly “bastardized”. But it has no real history as a curse word despite some sensitivity around it. That’s why it’s a 16-seed …

  • http://susantaylorbrown.com Susan Taylor Brown

    While “bastardized” might be the most controversial this flight “claque” would totally cripple me. And having been seeded 16 last year, I am ever so grateful to not be seeded that highly again this time around. Whew!

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

    What a challenging assortment of words! As I said on twitter:
    Authletes are ready. Words are suited up—waiting for positions! Crowd is tense with anticipation!

  • Carrie Finison

    I agree about ‘claque’ — that’s one of the ones I had to look up. I had a sense of the meaning, but not enough to write a poem about it!

  • http://www.robynhoodblack.com Robyn Hood Black

    Ed, I don’t think you were kidding when you said you’d spent a year conjuring up this year’s words… These are going to be some lively showdowns!

  • http://www.AlisonHertz.com Alison Hertz

    Ha, I actually like the word “claque” the best on the list. I can think of all sorts of things to do with it. But some of the other multisyllable words would be a lot tougher to squeeze in just right.

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

    Ed,
    Is there a limit to the number of characters used in each line (as it appears onscreen)? I have written two poems for my word. One poem averages 14 words per line (with 8 lines).

    If it won’t fit onscreen then that will make it easy to choose.

    Thank-Q

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

    No, not really. If it doesn’t fit onscreen and starts to wrap around, I can always shrink the font a notch. Still, 14 words should not be a problem.

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

    I wasn’t thinking lines when that little ditty came off the cuff…but I’m glad it served as an example! Great points Ed and others.
    And YES, this is a fabulous assortment of words.

    I am wondering also how indentions (or leading spaces) appear on the site. I use a lot of those…I feel like staggering second or subsequent lines makes a difference in the roll of words in a poem–kinda like a pause without a permit.

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

    Thanks Ed…I wasn’t thinking of lines. Glad you brought it up.

  • http://www.AlisonHertz.com Alison Hertz

    When we submit our finished poems, do we email them to you, Ed or post them somewhere?

  • http://jlielarios.blogspot.com Julie Larios

    Personally, I’m eager to see how “bastardization” gets pitched to 7-year-olds.

  • http://www.stephenwcahill.com Stephen W Cahill

    Is there really a bastardisation in there?! Good luck with that!

  • http://julielarios.blogspot.com Julie Larios

    Oops – it’s actually “bastardized.” But ooof! And I thought “diphthongs” was hard….