Poetry World Cup 2014

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WINNER: Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé (Singapore)

Ryan Van Winkle          jon stone                    

The Draw


Singapore (Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé) v. Pakistan (Mehvash Amin) SGP by 25 votes


Tunisia (Ali Znaidi) v. Singapore (Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé) SGP by 54 votes
Pakistan (Mehvash Amin) v. Laos (Bryan Thao Worra) PAK by 137 votes


Venezuela (Rafael Ayala Páez) v. Tunisia (Ali Znaidi) TUN by 29 votes
Trinidad & Tobago (Vahni Capildeo) v. Singapore (Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé) SGP by 70 votes
Scotland (Ryan Van Winkle) v. Pakistan (Mehvash Amin) PAK by 23 votes
India (Shikha Malaviya) v. Laos (Bryan Thao Worra) LAO by 131 votes

Round Two

Venezuela (Rafael Ayala Páez) v. USA (Ravi Shankar) VEN by 4 votes
Bermuda (Nancy Anne Miller) v. Tunisia (Ali Znaidi) TUN by 3 votes
Trinidad & Tobago (Vahni Capildeo) v. St. Lucia (John Robert Lee) TTO by 5 votes
Singapore (Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé) v. Cyprus (Nora Nadjarian) SGP by 34 votes

Scotland (Ryan Van Winkle) v. Russia (Valery Petrovskiy) SCO by 8 votes
Republic of Ireland (Anatoly Kudryavitsky) v. Pakistan (Mehvash Amin) PAK by walkover
India (Shikha Malaviya) v. Indonesia (Ikhda Ayuning Maharsi) IND by 5 votes
Iran (Payam Feili) v. Laos (Bryan Thao Worra) LAO by 56 votes

Round One

Bangladesh (Mir Mahfuz Ali) v. Venezuela (Rafael Ayala Páez) VEN by 10 votes
Barbados (Esther Phillips) v. USA (Ravi Shankar)  USA by 7 votes
Bermuda (Nancy Anne Miller) v. Uganda (Derek Lubangakene) BMU by 20 votes
Botswana (TJ Dema) v. Tunisia (Ali Znaidi) Tie; TUN by golden vote

Bulgaria (Kapka Kassabova) v. Trinidad & Tobago (Vahni Capildeo)  TTO by 3 votes
Canada (Ottilie Mulzet) v. St. Lucia (John Robert Lee) LCA by 16 votes
China (Changming Yuan) v. Singapore (Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé) SGP by 48 votes
Cyprus (Nora Nadjarian) v. Serbia (Dušan Gojkov) CYP by 3 votes

Denmark (Amalie Smith) v. Scotland (Ryan Van Winkle) SCO by 9 votes
England (Jon Stone) v. Russia (Valery Petrovskiy)  RUS by 10 votes
Finland (Kat Soini) v. Republic of Ireland (Anatoly Kudryavitsky) IRE by 12 votes
Ghana (Kwame Dawes) v. Pakistan (Mehvash Amin) PAK by 28 votes

India (Shikha Malaviya) v. Nigeria (David Ishaya Osu) IND by 8 votes
Indonesia (Ikhda Ayuning Maharsi) v. New Zealand (Iain Britton) IDN by 30 votes
Iran (Payam Feili) v. Malaysia (Sharanya Manivannan) IRN by 17 votes
Laos (Bryan Thao Worra) v. Lebanon (Wadih Sa’adeh) LAO by 37 votes

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Anatoly Kudryavitsky
Anatoly Kudryavitsky

I couldn't help noticing that Pakistan, the home nation in The Missing Slate Poetry World Cup, received more than one hundred votes in yesterday’s match against Ghana, i.e. more than twice as many as the winners in all the previous paring. There’s no doubt that the piece by the lovely young Pakistani poet Mehvash Amin is a very worthy one, even though I am not sure whether it is twice as better as the works by the other competitors. About 30 unopposed votes were obtained by Pakistan this morning, between 6 and 8am GMT, i.e. between 9 and 11am Pakistani time, and these were the decisive ones. This made me visualise some Pakistani voters who had just come to work, turned on their computers and decided to do first things first. Did they consider the artistic merits of the competing poems or was supporting their compatriot the only thing on their minds? We’ll never know that for sure. Of course, neither the organiser, nor Mehvash Amin could do anything to avoid this situation, and I don't want anybody to even think of laying blame at their feet. However what has just happened makes the contest meaningless for me. As I am supposed to meet the Pakistani poet in the next round, it is with a heavy heart that I have decided that this is the end of the road for my poem, which I hereby withdraw from the competition. Again, I thank all who voted for my poem in the first round and wish the organiser and the fellow contestants every success with the Poetry World Cup.

Jacob Silkstone
Jacob Silkstone

I think it's important to clear up a few misrepresentations in Anatoly's post: -The Pakistani poem didn’t receive more than 100 votes, nor did it receive "more than twice as many" as previous winners. Similarly high totals have been recorded in other polls. -At no stage did the Pakistani poem receive ’30 unopposed votes’. At various stages, both poems (Pakistan and Ghana) received surges of support which seemed to be correlated to several readers (not just Pakistani readers) sharing the link to the match page on twitter and facebook. -Based on voter locations, it's entirely inaccurate to suggest that a substantial majority of Mehvash Amin's votes came from Pakistan, so the "Pakistani voters who had just come to work, turned on their computers and decided to do first things first" hypothesis doesn't hold. The question of artistic merit will always remain because artistic merit is, in many ways, a subjective category. However, I disagree very strongly with the implication that the Pakistani poem received a level of support that was in any way disproportionate to its merit.

Anatoly Kudryavitsky
Anatoly Kudryavitsky

Dear Jacob, I don’t misrepresent the facts, and it is very disheartening to stand accused of that. My information comes from the match page that always shows the current score. This morning I woke up early and checked the score at 5.35am. It was 67-62 to Ghana. Next time I checked it (7.30am) the score was 96-67 to Pakistan. Thus we have 34 UNOPPOSED VOTES obtained by Pakistan in the course of less than two hours. You told me yourself that the highest scorer in the previous matches reached 50+ votes, and that some other winners got much less than that. So I wasn't too far from the truth when I said that Pakistan secured twice or more than twice as many votes as the other winners. It is anybody’s guess how many voters took the partisan approach but this effectively kills this contest for me. At no stage did I say that "the Pakistani poem received a level of support that was in any way disproportionate to its merit." By stating the opposite you're putting words in my mouth. I am sorry to disappoint but I stand by my decision to withdraw my work.

Jacob Silkstone
Jacob Silkstone

I realise the precise total of unopposed votes isn't central to your argument here, but I'm looking at the vote logs now and those numbers aren't quite accurate. It's true that Pakistan had a strong run of votes in the morning (18 unopposed was the longest streak), but Ghana had a similar run between 1:00 and 3:00 PKT. I don't feel that the integrity of the vote was compromised in any way. It's worth remembering that Ghana ended on 70 votes and ran Pakistan close, and a couple of other winners had far more dominant shares of their votes (and scored significantly more than 50!). Perhaps it's worth looking at today's match, too, where one of the poems is about to pass the 50-vote mark with 8 hours of voting still to go. I'm sorry to lose a strong poem from the competition and I won't try to change that decision, but I don't see why the Pakistan match 'effectively kills this contest' for anyone. A score of 98 votes to 70 (58% to 42%) seems to me to indicate a fairly close contest, and it's not accurate to say that Pakistan secured twice or more than twice as many votes as all other winners -- yes, some winners have gone through with a relatively low number of votes, but totals have varied significantly depending on the time of the match (fewer votes at weekends) and the other content on the site (fewer votes around the launch of the new issue).