Rhyme & Unreason

How a Web site purporting to uncover fraud shook up the world of poetry contests

The scourge of the poetry world is sipping black tea and nibbling almond cookies in the Tower of Cosmic Reflections on a drizzly Monday afternoon. The name of the teahouse may be grandiose but the scourge himself is anything but: Alan Cordle is a 36-year-old research librarian at Portland Community College who has wispy blond hair and pudgy cheeks. He drives a 1994 Honda Accord, likes to hike, and brews his own beer. "These cookies are great," he says with his mouth full. The man is