March Madness Poetry (#MMPoetry) is an event designed to bring 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 21 days: 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 “nonconfrontational”, “kinkier”, and “varnish” are given poor seeds, while more intuitive words like “control”, “knack”, and “crush” are given very good seeds.

In each round, two words of opposing difficulty face each other in a prompted poem pairing (e.g., 14-varnish vs. 3-knack). But that’s only half of the madness — the other half? Poets are only given 36 hours to compose their poems! Fans then vote for their favorites, and winners move on to write again the next day! (LITERALLY: THE NEXT 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.

The event is designed to generate excitement about poetry among kids, teens, parents, teachers, librarians, industry folks, and the general public. Stay close to the event by registering as a user, subscribing to my e-mail list, following me on Twitter or Facebook, or connecting with me on Google+ (see right sidebar).

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