Pop-Up Poetry Competition

Every week in the kidlitosphere, dozens of poets and poetry aficionados gather to share their latest poems, inspirations, interviews, reviews, news, and more. It so happens that I am hosting the gathering this week here at Think Kid, Think. Well, one thing led to another, and yada yada yada, it’s time for a pop-up March Madness-style poetry competition!

Similar to the official March Madness Poetry tournament (codename: #MMPoetry) that I hosted earlier this year, today’s pop-up contests will pit poems against each other in pairs, but this time all of the poems come from this week’s rich pool of Poetry Friday originals. None of these poets had any idea this was going to happen when they woke up this morning! (And neither did I.)

As a reader, you have three simple jobs: 1) read each pair of poems as many times as you’d like, 2) vote for your favorite in each pair before the clock runs out, and 3) SHARE THIS PAGE with your family/friends/followers so that they too can enjoy these great poems! Just click the share buttons at the bottom of this post or send the link via e-mail. One thing that we learned back in March is that kids LOVE to participate in this type of thing, so if you are a teacher or librarian or parent, this would make a great surprise 10-minute activity for your kids.

Here are the poems. Use the poll below each pairing to express your preference. Votes are counted in real time and cannot be changed once entered. Consider the following three criteria when you vote: presentation, creativity, and effect. Presentation might include technical aspects such as meter, rhyme, form/shape, etc.; creativity might include the poet’s approach toward a certain subject, image evocation, clever wordplay, etc.; and effect might be whether the poem moved you to laugh, cry, think, scream, etc.

Group A
My Cousin Chats with Chipmunks
by Samuel Kent

My cousin chats with chipmunks.
He utters words to cows.
He’ll jabber with a gibbon
and shares the cat’s meows.

He’ll chatter with chimpanzees,
or verbalize with dogs.
He’s eloquent with emus,
and chews the fat with frogs.

He lectures lines of llamas.
He’ll yack with any sloth.
With gnus he’ll choose to gossip.
He’ll mumble at a moth.

Although he speaks to creatures,
I find it most absurd
that when it comes to people
he’s never said a word.


It’s a bit of a laugh,
in the bath

by Matt Goodfellow

It’s a bit of a laugh,
in the bath

there’s bubbles and squeaks
when I slide on both cheeks

there’s soapy-white pearls
in my undersea world

there’s toes in the tap
and a warm flannel slap

there’s wrinkly skin
and shampoo on the chin

there’s wishing and washing
and splishing and sploshing

there’s dancing about
when it’s time to get out

it’s a bit of a laugh,
in the bath


Which Poem From Group A Did You Prefer?

  • My Cousin Chats with Chipmunks (Samuel Kent) (69%, 20 Votes)
  • It’s a bit of a laugh, in the bath (Matt Goodfellow) (31%, 9 Votes)

Total Voters: 29

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Group B
Grandmother Rising
by Sally Thomas

She raised the window, heard the sycamore
Breathing darkness, cool invisible strands
Of air that seemed to lift her by her hands,
Stand her, turn her, loose her pinned-up hair,

Slip her through the screen. The blue wind bore
Her wingless body over fields and ponds
Till, skimming chimneys, clotheslines, raveled ends
Of cedar woods, she came to where the shore

Bared its one white shoulder. There, the moon
Drew a thumbnail-line as though to trace
A road where the sea pushed back the land.

Leaving her yellow nightgown on the sand,
Her image in the water’s wrinkled face,
She waved like drying laundry and was gone.


When The Moon Is There
by Renée LaTulippe

When the moon is there,
at half past six tonight,
we’ll sit out in the garden
to watch the fading light.

And when the moon is there,
we’ll have a bite to eat;
a slice of bread, a glass of milk,
and maybe something sweet.

And when the moon is there,
when it looks so small and far,
we’ll gather at the window
to name the brightest star.

You’ll stare up to the heavens,
your eyes so round and bright—
and when the moon is there,
I’ll kiss you all goodnight.


Which Poem From Group B Did You Prefer?

  • Grandmother Rising (Sally Thomas) (42%, 14 Votes)
  • When The Moon Is There (Renée LaTulippe) (58%, 19 Votes)

Total Voters: 33

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Group C
First Time for Everything
by Matt Forrest Esenwine

One cool October afternoon
I lay down in the grass
And watched the falling leaves of red
And gold and orange pass.

It must have been quite comfortable,
The sun and autumn breeze;
I closed my eyes and fell asleep
Beneath some maple trees.

When I awoke, I was amazed –
I could not see the sky!
A mound of leaves had covered me
Completely, three feet high.

Well, I must say, I’ve jumped in leaves
A hundred times or more,
But never had a pile of them
Jump onto me before.


by Mary Lee Hahn

Startled, I silence my alarm
Get up and feed the cat
Turn off the porch lights
Turn up the heat
Fill the teakettle and light the burner
Check email
Decide on cereal for breakfast

And still
I cannot for the life of me
Decipher the phrase that was in my head
Just before the alarm went off:

This is the kind of test with mandolins in it.


Which Poem From Group C Did You Prefer?

  • First Time for Everything (Matt Forrest Esenwine) (77%, 23 Votes)
  • Instrumental (Mary Lee Hahn) (23%, 7 Votes)

Total Voters: 30

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Group D
Melancholy Haiku for Autumn
by Andromeda Jazmon Sibley

three rakes; one in use
on the tide of fallen leaves
another leaf falls


Etto’s Voice
by Greg Pincus

Etto had the deepest voice.
He boomed out his words, and it wasn’t a choice.
So when he tried singing as high as a bird,
“False Etto!” was yelled…
And we got a new word.


Which Poem From Group D Did You Prefer?

  • Melancholy Haiku for Autumn (Andromeda Jazmon Sibley) (46%, 13 Votes)
  • Etto's Voice (Greg Pincus) (54%, 15 Votes)

Total Voters: 28

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  • http://www.poetryforkidsjoy.blogspot.com Joy Acey

    I liked all the poems and enjoyed reading each one.

  • http://www.1000poems.com Vikram Madan

    Was the experiment a success? How many additional hits did it generate?

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

      Not sure yet. It is attracting modest attention, but considering that it was posted on Friday evening, it is at a severe disadvantage over the Thursday evening / Friday morning main PF post. I think I’ll put a timer on the polls and have them close on Monday evening (maybe Tuesday if schools are closed for Veterans Day?). Just one timer for all four — nothing crazy — and see if that makes a difference. But maybe simple polls like this don’t make much of a difference; they might need to be part of something bigger to entice people to visit.

      I will say that this page has already been shared more on Twitter than the original Poetry Friday post, so that’s something.

  • http://www.quicksilverpartners.com Jeanne Poland

    I must congratulate you again on your uncanny way of allowing us to like without the sting of competition.
    Soooooo refreshing!
    And no poets feeling like failures!
    I noticed I prioritize my criteria according to my own style: eg I put originality and uniqueness first.This is the quality of my work most commented upon when I post.I recognize myself in these wonderful creations!
    Will get busy sharing the poll.
    Jeanne Poland

  • http://fineoldfamly.blogspot.com Sally Thomas

    This is great fun, and I love the countdown! I’ve mentioned the contest on my blog and via Twitter, planning to repeat throughout the day. The more people do this with their respective networks, the more attention this is likely to attract. And I do think a contest piques people’s interest in a way that a linkaround might not — that is, people already interested will come to the linkaround, because it’s a game they already like to play. Not everyone has the time, patience, and interest level to read all the submissions. A contest, where the only requirement is that you read a little selection and click a button, may draw more random readers. How to keep them coming back is another question, but at least you’ve put a sampler of poetry before them and given them the opportunity to think about why they might like one offering more than another.

  • http://i.droo.it Samuel Kent

    This is fun, and it’s been exciting to promote this as both a competition and a way to get to see new poets. Looking forward to the next round!

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

      Who said anything about a next round???

      Thank you to the eight of you who participated in this little experiment. I will summarize the findings when I get a chance.

  • http://myjuicylittleuniverse.blogspot.com Heidi Mordhorst

    Hey, Ed–I didn’t have an email address for you, so getting to you this way:
    Dear Poetry Friday People,

    I hope you’re all having a lovely Thanksgiving weekend!

    I’m looking forward to hosting Poetry Friday at My Juicy Little Universe on December 21 this year–a day which is special to me and my family since we celebrate the Winter Solstice rather than the other December holidays. However, Dec. 21 is a regular school day for me AND we have a special dinner for guests that night, so I’m writing to ask for the assistance of some Solstice elves in getting it all done gracefully. Here’s the plan, if you would like to help out.

    1. You write or select a poem on the general theme of lighting the dark (Here’s a little background info on Solstice traditions, if you’re interested.)
    2. You prepare your Poetry Friday post early (starting Dec. 15, perhaps) and set it to publish at 12:01 on December 21. emailing me your post title as you do so.
    3. I’ll start putting together my host-post early too, and add your links as I receive your emails.
    4. On Friday morning it will all pop into being c. 6:00 am, and I’ll go off to school knowing that we have all brightened the darkest day of the year with our dozens of points of poetic light!

    I’ll be able to do some rounding up twice during the day as well, so if something prevents you from posting early, don’t worry; I can still include you! I hope you’ll want to participate both with the theme and the schedule, but joining in with either one will help make our Winter Solstice Poetry Friday something special!

    Thanks to my farflung community…