FINAL FOUR: serendipity vs. pandemonium

[click image to view matchup in full screen in a new window.]

The Poets’ Challenge: Each poet is assigned a single word based on their bracket seed, ranging from 1 (intuitive) to 16 (seemingly impossible). Poets must write a kid-appropriate poem using the prompted word in under 36 hours. Once both final poems have been received, they will be pasted into the body of this post, and then the reader poll will be open for voting.

Voter Instructions: Read each poem as many times as you’d like. Then use the poll to express your preference. Votes are counted in real time and cannot be changed once entered. As a guideline for voting, consider the criteria on which the contestants on the cooking show “Chopped” are evaluated: presentation, taste, and creativity. Translated roughly into poetry terms, presentation might include technical aspects such as meter, rhyme, form/shape, etc.; taste might be the net effect — did the poem move you to laugh, cry, think, kill, etc.; and creativity might include the poet’s approach toward a certain subject, image evocation, clever wordplay, etc.

“This is awesome, where can I find more?”: All results and scheduled matchups, including a glance at the round-by-round writing windows and voting windows, are visible from the Live Scoreboard page. In addition, results will be tweeted from @edecaria as they become final.



Here are the poems:

The Money Tree
by Debbie LaCroix

My Aunt Seren Dipity
Gave to me a money tree.
I planted the tree and watched it grow
And waited for the money to show.
Nothing, nothing. Then one day
Lemons grew on a proud bouquet.
But still, no money. Nothing to pay.

My friend saw the lemon on my proud bouquet
“It’s perfect! I want it!” he had to say.
I pulled one off the branch to share
And then my mind became aware.
It is a money tree,
Look, you see.

We picked our harvest, then made a sign
And watched as they came and formed a line.

Serendipity brought me a money tree.
Lemonade! Lemonade! Two for a buck fifty-three!
Thank you Aunt Seren Dipity.


The Poetry Games
by Greg Pincus

This year the arena is packed to the rafters
With fans cheering loudly for favorite word crafters.
We all have our heroes. We call out their names.
We root and we hoot at the Poetry Games.

Our friends tell us stories of tourneys gone by
When last second sonnets would make the crowds cry.
When two well-versed poets both wrote clerihew…
When strong double dactyls defeated haiku.

Now, this year we listen and hear poets score
With assonance, consonance, slant rhyme and more.
We sigh for a stanza that sends our souls soaring.
We hide as the similes fall like rain pouring.

Crowd favorites emerge from the tales that they tell
In free verse, in ballad, and in villanelle.
A triolet sends one opponent to doom.
Another one drops to a perfect pantoum.

Soon only two stand. We all watch them fight on.
Nobody leaves as they write until dawn.
Then they lay down their pens in this battle of brains…
And a winner is named! Pandemonium reigns!

These Games are a fiction, though here’s what is real:
The power of poems to make us all feel.
Poetry speaks of the world as we know it,
So celebrate words, and go cheer for a poet.



*serendipity vs. *pandemonium: Which Poem Did You Prefer?

  • *serendipity (Debbie LaCroix) (51%, 305 Votes)
  • *pandemonium (Greg Pincus) (49%, 291 Votes)

Total Voters: 595

Loading ... Loading ...

The average pairing in Round 1 generated 154 votes.
The average pairing in Round 2 generated 178 votes.
The average pairing in Round 3 generated 224 votes.
The average pairing in Round 4 generated 354 votes.

A nice trend!

Use the share buttons below and mention the madness wherever you go so that these poems reach more kids! And remember, encourage voting on BOTH of the Final Four matchups, not just this one!

Like it? Share it!

Like me? Subscribe to TKT!

  • Amy Ludwig VanDerwater

    Delicious words indeed. I had both on my “favorites” list, and Debbie, you got my #1! Go for it, writers…we await your creations! a.

  • Debbie L.

    I love it! Serendipity is such a beautiful word. So far I’ve had 2 failed poems though… Not as easy to use in poetry as you’d think, LOL. Now watch everyone post poems to make me feel bad. ;-) I’ve got some great adult ideas. The word actually has a fun history. Google it!

  • Debbie L.

    Can’t wait to see what you come up with Greg! Our words are almost opposites. Fun!

  • Kathryn Apel

    Beautiful word pairing.

  • Renee LaTulippe

    I love both these words – such possibilities!

  • Greg Pincus

    Ahh, one of my favorite words! Unfortunately, I’m talking about “serendipity.” And yes, Debbie, our words are kinda in opposite realms. Probably means we end up in the same place…. I’m getting a wee bit of a late start here, but I’m sure I’ll be able to match you in failed poems soon!

  • Mary Lee

    Greg, my fourth graders hope you enjoy making a poem using this word — THEY picked it for you, and they’ll definitely be watching to see how you do with it. Make us proud!

    • Greg Pincus

      Well, thank them for me. Or, uh, not necessarily THANK them, but between pandemonium and pusillanimous, I certainly have much to be grateful for. And, hey, if you’d like, I’ll Skype in and read whatever I come up with with your class!

      • Mary Lee

        DEAL! They’ll be so excited!

  • Gabriel Traske

    What a great idea to let fourth graders pick the word! I suppose the opportunity to see a teacher (or adult, or “expert”) struggle is a sure-fire motivator for students. I know it works with my own kids…

    • Mary Lee

      Actually, they wanted to pick a word that other kids would like and understand. On their own they threw out all the ridiculously hard words. I have more stories to tell about the selection process, but I’m sworn to secrecy until the end of the tournament…

      • Suz Blackaby

        Jeez oh man! I guess I should be relieved that the really HARD words got TOSSED….

        And re: your peony comment, ML, I had that same experience with cotoneaster…


  • Irene Latham

    Ha! Greg! “Pandemonium” was my word suggestion. Can’t wait to see what you do with it!!!

    • April Halprin Wayland

      Great word, Irene! (I feel like a boxer yelling, “Great left hook!”)

  • Robyn Hood Black

    Good luck, Debbie and Greg! (The crowd goes wild….)

  • Heidi Mordhorst

    I dunno, but I think there’s something serendipitous in these word assignments. Could there *be* a better word for Greg than pandemonium? All the rest of us should go off and use both words in a poem, because they are so beautifully matched:
    Anyone care to join me in THAT challenge?

    And just a note: I don’t believe there has been a single “failed” poem in this whole competition.

    • Greg Pincus

      As Debbie thought, I was referring to a comment she’d made about starting serendipity poems. My desktop is littered with false starts and “failed” drafts of poems that never see the light of day… including, in the end, this round! But I agree with you that of the 120 poems to date in the Madness, there’s been no failure. And I’m sure that’ll be true in this round, too!

    • Amy LV

      I was thinking that about the syllables here too, Heidi! Un-be-LIE-va-ble!

    • Susan Taylor Brown

      Another great pair of poems.

      Greg, I absolutely love this celebration of poetry and of the fun we’ve all had with poetry madness. Set it to music and we have our theme song for next year!

  • Debbie

    Thanks! I think greg was referring to my Facebook post on my failed attempt at poetry. :)

  • Robyn Hood Black

    I agree this tournie did not have “lemons” – Congrats, you two, and Greg – these “Poetry Games” are much more my cup of tea than the Hunger Games!

  • Cathy

    Greg, once again you rule the day! I love it! You are so clever with words, rhyme and rhythm. I love your wit…always so pithy. And, ahem, I couldn’t write a poem to save my life, but I sure love reading ‘em! I loved reading about the Money Tree! I wish a sour orange tree could be a money tree, too. Thanks, everyone of you talented poets! As Greg says in his last lines: Poetry speaks; Yea, Poets!

  • Melinda Harvey

    Amazing creativity, Poets! Greg….thank you for making my NaPoMo research so darn easy! My intent is to write a poem each day in a different form. You listed so many of them for me! This will be a great way to kick off the month with my students! Debbie, clever use of Aunt Seren! Love it!

  • Amy LV

    Debbie – I was so surprised to see that word as a name…and then again as a word! Fun! Greg – I love this celebratory tribute to all that Ed has done here. Congrats to both of you for being in this Final 4!

  • Jone

    Incredible words. Congrats on making it this far.

  • April Halprin Wayland

    Wow oh, wow! I am covered in sweat for the two of you!

  • Irene Latham

    I am loving both of these! What kid hasn’t wanted a money tree?? And the Poetry Games… Brilliant!

  • http://lookingforthewritewords Theresa

    I am in awe of every pair of poems that has bounced our way in March Madness of Poetry, so much more enjoyable than basketball any day! Choosing one for the vote continues to be a conundrum for me. I think they should be bound together and published! I would add the collection to my poetry shelf in a heartbeat. My fourth graders are filling a basket with words to inspire poems during April. Bravo!

  • Renee LaTulippe

    Well done, Poets! Greg, I love your celebration of the games!

  • Ann Jacobus

    Charmed by The Money Tree, but The Poetry Games is an anthem for poets (and the poet in all of us) everywhere. Nice going, guys.

    • Debbie L.

      I know. I can’t compete. The Poetry Games was very well played (and written).

      • Greg Pincus

        You can certainly compete – and your poem does so quite nicely, indeed! It is, as they say, anybody’s ball game, though maybe writing about poetry game me the home court advantage. It’s a been a pleasure reading all your poems throughout, including your family history here with your Aunt. It was serendipitous that she’s in your family tree!

        • Debbie L.

          :-) I don’t mean it as in “I can’t compete/I can’t compete”, but as in “Your use of theme, today’s current trends, and word choice, rhyme, and rhythm work so well together that every poet should print this out and read it once a day for inspiration.”

          I may be a good (sometimes even excellent) writer (wink, wink), but you are a master of the pen (I have read your past poetry). I am honored to have made it this far in the competition, and elated that I am getting this opportunity to compete against such a Master of Words and Form. Your poem, Greg, is worthy. Mine is honored to be on the same page as yours.

        • Debbie L.

          Yes, my Aunt is fabulous. She always likes to give me things, but makes me work hard for the results. :-)


  • jon

    Serendipitous pandemonium! The best kind!

  • Shemp

    Oh yawn… Anyone can sound brilliant when he rhymes clerihew and haiku. Next time try rhyming clerihew and sonnet and see how brilliant you sound! ;-)

    Kudos to both word warriors. I couldn’t rhyme the monosyllabic synonyms of either word.

  • Debbie L.

    And I wanted to add, since I am a woman of few words…

    All the poets in this competition are amazing. It’s not easy coming up with a poem to show the world based on a seed word, in a short amount of time. I’ve been inspired over and over. Thumbs up to all the poets. Thumbs up to Ed for his brilliant idea. And Big Toe up to all of those who have come to read, comment and vote (I ran out of thumbs).

  • Michele Krueger

    Great work, poets! The gauntlet has been thrown!

  • Mike Hays

    As a sports nut, I must side with the sports themed, Poetry Games. But as a lover of lemonade, it was a very painful decision.

  • Debbie L.

    Oh my! Wow! I am really amazed and honored. Greg is really amazing. Now I get to wait for him to pick out a word for me. I’m a little nervous there.

    Greg, thank you for being a great competitor. I can’t wait for your book to come out!

    • Angela Lagrou

      Debbie, I KNEW you would make it to the final round. I have been watching and watching and cheering for you. Round by round, by round, you beat your competion. I hope you win this round!

  • Patricia Nozell

    Amazing poems, Debbie & Greg! If I were running the Poetry Games, I’d mandate that all of the finalist four proceed to the podium!

  • Greg Pincus

    Not to worry, Debbie – I went easy on you in what I picked for your final word. You might not believe that when you SEE the word, but it’s true :-)

    Congrats. Now make our side of the bracket proud!

    • Debbie L.

      Thanks Greg! :-D I am waiting patiently for my word. And by the way, I loved the movie “Quints”.

  • Pam

    This was a nail biter to the very end!

  • Susan Taylor Brown

    Congrats, Debbie. You unseated a master poet. Good luck in the next round.
    Greg, I’ve printed out the Poetry Games and might just have to add it to a piece of art so I can have it around the office all the time. Terrific poem.

  • Suz Blackaby

    OK guys—Scoot over and make some room for me and Greg in the bleachers. Pass the peanuts. Where did the hotdog guy go? Beer me!
    Cheers, cheers to all–

    • Amy LV

      Hey! I’ve still got popcorn? Want some? Cheers to you, my friend! Greg – want some popcorn? I’ll buy the drinks! a.

  • Amy LV

    Congrats to you both for making it to this small and good place! a.

  • Renee LaTulippe

    Congrats to Debbie AND to Greg for a wonderful match. Well played.

  • Mary Lee

    Oh, My! Step away from the computer for a few hours and look what happens! Congrats, Debbie! One more poem, you can do it, go for the gold!

    Greg, I love your poem as a summary of “the games.”

  • Heidi Mordhorst

    I just don’t want it to eeeeeeeeeend!

  • Mary Bailey

    Love the Money Tree! Has my vote!

  • Angela Lagrou

    I wish my Aunt gave me a money tree…Well…I guess a lemon tree:)