April Poetry Madness

Magnetic PoetryMarch Madness is upon us. Folks on Twitter are complaining about how lousy their brackets are. It hit me that creating a poetry tournament could be a fun way to celebrate National Poetry Month in April.

I came up with the idea for four brackets: American classics, British/World classics, faculty favorites, and student favorites; however, you could create whatever brackets you want.

Step-by-step directions:

  1. Collect favorites from students and faculty (if you plan to use student and faculty brackets).
  2. English department discussion or teacher determination of quintessential classics of American and British/World brackets (or whatever brackets you have chosen). Alternatively, you could determine which poems should go in the classics brackets through research.
  3. Create your chart. I found downloadable 32- and 64-team blank charts in Excel at this website, but you could create your own if you wish. Google Docs also has several bracket templates you could alter for a poetry tournament. I plan to create a large chart to post outside my classroom using craft paper.
  4. Determine the poems for the first round based on submissions or other criteria.
  5. Pick your favorite way to match the poems up. You can have poetry slams and use an applause meter to determine the winner. You can post the poems and have people check their favorites, then score them. Students can advocate for a poem and determine how to try to convince their peers to vote for their poem. The possibilities are probably endless.

This is the kind of thing you can fill a bulletin board with if you like, but I have already decided to put the National Poetry Month poster from English Journal and all my students’ favorite poems on my bulletin board. Besides, I want to be able to share this project with people walking by the classroom.

Do you have any ideas to add? Please share in the comments.

Update: Well, there is clearly nothing new under the sun; I did, however, have some slightly different ideas as to execution (via Making Curriculum Pop Ning).

8 thoughts on “April Poetry Madness”

  1. This sounds like a neat idea. If you want to involve more people, could your school hold a poetry slam one night or possibly at lunch? That way, more students could get involved. I am not really a sports fan, so forgive me if I don't understand how this March Madness thing works, but if betting is involved, perhaps something could be worked out so that all the money goes to charity?

    1. I like the lunch idea. It might be harder to schedule one for an evening. I think it could involve betting, but I'm not sure I'd want to go that route, although asking students to donate to charity would be a fun way to raise the stakes.

  2. I love this idea. I'm in my credential program for HS English right now, and I'm trying to organize a regular way to use poetry all year in my classes instead of just doing a measly Poetry Unit. Something like this bracket could be used as a semi-culminating event; students could vote, and a poetry slam in the cafeteria (could) be incredible. Thank you for the idea!! I'm going to run with it. 😀


    April is National Poetry Month. The 3rd Annual “Paws for Poetry” Contest Challenges Kids to Write Sonnets to Spaniels, Prose for Persian Cats

    Colorado Springs, CO (March1, 2010) –April marks the 14th anniversary of National Poetry Month.

    To help celebrate, budding Emily Dickinsons and Edgar Allan Poes are encouraged to participate in the 3rd annual “Paws for Poetry” Contest (PawsforPoetry.org). To enter, children ages 5-12 are to write a poem to, and provide a photo of, their favorite animal friend. The contest is co-sponsored by kids’ virtual field trip Web site Meet Me at the Corner (MeetMeAtTheCorner.org) and Flashlight Press (FlashLightPress.com ).

    Original poems of any length may be submitted in one of two categories: Group One (ages 5-9) and Group Two (ages 10-12). One grand prize winner in each category will receive a prize package worth $50.00. Two runners-up in each category will receive a $25.00 gift package. Children’s author, poet, and Iraqi war veteran Thad Krasnesky, writer of the upcoming “That Cat Can’t Stay” (Flashlight Press, 2010) is the contest judge.

    In addition to the prize packages, winning poems and pet photos will be highlighted in an upcoming Meet Me at the Corner video pod cast. The pod cast will be videotaped at New York’s Angellicle Cat Rescue Center. Local students will present the winning poems.

    All submissions should be mailed to “Paws for Poetry” Contest, c/o Meet Me at the Corner, 20 West Del Norte, Colorado Springs, CO, 80908. The contest deadline is April 15, 2010.

    For more information, rules and submission guidelines, visit PawsforPoetry.org.

  4. After reading this post and others about novels brackets, I'm suggesting an fantasy authors league as well.

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