The Finalists for the Art of Manliness Manvotionals Recitation Contest: Vote for Your Favorite!

by Brett & Kate McKay on February 20, 2012 · 81 comments

in Blog

So we’ve finished watching all the entries to the Manvotionals Recitation Contest, and had such a good time doing it. Thank you to everyone who entered!

As it always is with these contests, picking the five finalists was like choosing our favorite children. First, we were bowled over that so many of you had the chutzpah to put yourself out there on YouTube reciting stuff from the 19th and early 20th centuries. And second, all the entries were awesome for different reasons. Some were fun and creative; others poignant and touching.  If only we could give everyone a briefcase. Alas, choose we had to. Videos were judged both on the creativity of the video and the quality of the recitation. And after some good back and forth debate, we went with the videos that simply grabbed us the most and best captured the Manvotional. In the end, we narrowed the entries down to these five finalists:

If by Don Wright

Don’s video is a pure, straight up recitation. No gimmicks here, because Don doesn’t need any.

The Greatness of Simplicity by Nathan Wofford

Nathan captures the heart of this Manvotional in a transfixing video full of snapshots of the good, simple things in his life.

The Man With the Iron Will by Stephen G. Kohn

A great recitation of a great poem+music composed by Stephen’s wife+the beat of the blacksmith’s hammer+a dedication to Stephen’s fallen brethren=one awesome video.

Wanted a Man by Conrad Gross

“Wanted a Man” is about the world’s need for men who are fully developed in all areas of their lives, and Conrad explores that idea in this creative video.

Simplify, Simplify by Matthew T. Jones

Set to music he composed himself, Matthew harnesses his inner-Thoreau in the woods of Tennessee.

Vote for the Winner!

Theme and quality will obviously win over strangers, but the finalists’ ability to marshal their friends and family into voting for them will likely play a role as well. Voting ends on February 27, 2011 at 10PM CT.  You can vote once a day until the end, so vote early and vote often. Let the best man win!

Check out all the Manvotional Recitation Contest entries!

{ 81 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Nathan Wofford February 20, 2012 at 1:39 pm

Hey guys! This is Nathan from the Greatness of Simplicity. I just hope you guys can watch my video all the way through and enjoy it. Thanks for the support!

2 Natalie February 20, 2012 at 1:48 pm


3 Nick February 20, 2012 at 1:49 pm

If only Conrad didn’t say “mangnamius”!

4 nicole wofford February 20, 2012 at 1:50 pm

Good job buddy!!!!

5 Mark Wood February 20, 2012 at 1:55 pm

Beautiful. And yes I could. And yes. I did.

6 David February 20, 2012 at 1:58 pm

Videos at the end of the post are disadvantaged because people are less likely to view them all the way through.

7 Nathan Wofford February 20, 2012 at 2:03 pm

Thanks guys! my video took FOREVERRRRRR!!!!! hahah

8 Ryan Dunphy February 20, 2012 at 2:05 pm

Man With Iron Will by Stephen G. Khon hits home. If not for the brave men who sacrifice for my freedom who and where would I be, an empty shell of existence with no real meaning or purpose. What greater gift is there than to put down your own life, for the love of another.

9 Frank February 20, 2012 at 2:16 pm

Just wanted to say great job to all of you finalists! Every video had great strengths and deciding which one to vote for was not obvious.

Thanks for the inspirational work!

10 Conrad February 20, 2012 at 3:30 pm

This is Conrad from the Wanted – A Man, so excited to be involved in this contest!

I meant to say Magnamious, but hey “MAN”gnamius ain’t so bad :)

11 Daniel Kohn February 20, 2012 at 3:31 pm

Stephen, brother, your video is inspiring ! keep up the amazing work.

12 Don Wright February 20, 2012 at 3:48 pm

It is an honor to have my work chosen as a finalist among so many inspirational pieces. Thank you!

Manvotionals should be required for every young man!

13 conrad gross February 20, 2012 at 4:41 pm

oops, the fiance has just informed me its Magnanimous. I’m double wrong!

14 David Y February 20, 2012 at 5:35 pm

This was a really tough choice. They were all good, and all deserving of winning.

But, I went with Don Wright reading of If.

Congratulations to whoever wins.

15 Stephen Kohn February 20, 2012 at 5:38 pm

My thanks to everyone who submitted a video, and to all those takin the time to vote. Like everyone here it was a labor of love to make these, and we hope everyone can gain something from each one of them. Everyone who sees my video brings life to the memory of my fallen brethren, and I thank you all for that. It is a good reward.

16 Stephen Kohn February 20, 2012 at 5:40 pm

My thanks to everyone who submitted a video, and to all those takin the time to vote. Like everyone here, we hope everyone can gain something from each one of them. In addition, everyone who sees my video brings life to the memory of my fallen brethren, and I thank you all for that. It is a good reward.

17 Hap Durr February 20, 2012 at 6:42 pm

It came down to IF and MAN WITH AN IRON WILL for me… all the entries were great but the tribute to those who gave all and the simplicity and honesty of Mr. Wright’s reading really stood out from the rest.

18 Thomas Everaldes February 20, 2012 at 6:43 pm

Deep and meaningful Stephen and thank you so much.

19 Mikel Santiago February 20, 2012 at 7:42 pm

Wow great job Nathan. The combination of simple video clips and the vocals created a very well put together video.

20 Greta Shenk February 20, 2012 at 9:29 pm

Conrad, great video! Clear delivery and an excellent passage. Kudos!

21 Daniel February 20, 2012 at 9:52 pm

I have a soft spot for Walden by Thoreau (that book could be the biography of my desire for life). All the videos were very good. Great job everyone. But it came down to ‘If’ and ‘The Greatness of Simplicity’, with ‘If’ winning for its simplicity.

22 Caleb S. February 20, 2012 at 11:54 pm

Every one of the finalists’ recitations were a true pleasure to watch and listen to. Everybody did a fantastic job. It’s nice to see passionate people bringing to life these beautiful and profound words. Making a decision was VERY difficult.

23 Joshua McClanahan February 21, 2012 at 3:43 am

Stephen Kohns video has a great theme to it. I love how the music and metal working come together.

24 Adrian February 21, 2012 at 3:50 am

Man with an Iron Will is not only an inspirational piece it is a finely structured short film.

25 Mike February 21, 2012 at 5:28 am

Excellent! Every one. Watching these filled me with a sense of purpose and determination to make today, great, and then to strive to do better tomorrow. I could take each one and watch it daily with my morning devotionals and become a better man using only these spoken words. However, only one caused ‘goose bumps’. Thank you for “Man with Iron Will”.
I agree with Bret, everyone of you should get the prize.

26 Stephen Kohn February 21, 2012 at 10:01 am

I wanted to post this for anyone who did not recognize the medal shown in my Video. The rifle over a blue bar signifies the Infantryman within the Army, and the riflemans badge is earned by proving that the soldier excell at the skills required of all who defend this country in direct combat.

The wreath that you see around the rifle on the award in the video signifies that the Infantryman has been in physical combat, and has shown valor and courage in the fight for freedom. I wanted to signify through the knife being beaten into a Combat Infantrymans Badge, that its wearer must be sharp of mind and body, hardedned like steel, and tested through fire.

27 Kyle L. February 21, 2012 at 10:20 am

Spectacular my good men, simply spectacular.

28 Jason February 21, 2012 at 10:43 am

Don’s “If” gets my vote. I thought it was classic in its simplicity – the closest of all of them to listening to the famous orators of old. The fact that it was written by Kipling doesn’t hurt, either.

Good job, every one of you, though.

29 Christopher February 21, 2012 at 11:13 am

Nathan, moved me, dude. Wonderful writing. Good life.


30 Len Sykes February 21, 2012 at 11:30 am

Excellent message, well done and very inspiring!

31 Michele Armstrong February 21, 2012 at 11:37 am

Great Job Conrad!!!

32 Nathan Wofford February 21, 2012 at 12:18 pm

Thanks guys for your support. I decided to make my video by capturing the simplicity and bliss of my own life in hopes that I could convey the message to others.

33 Don Wright February 21, 2012 at 12:30 pm

I really appreciate the support. I felt the poem speaks for itself and wanted to focus on it’s content. I recite this poem just about everyday as a reminder.

34 Hugh Glasgow February 21, 2012 at 1:54 pm

Don’s “If” gets my vote, for it gives you the guidelines on being a man. And isn’t it the whole purpose of this site? Simple truths to becoming that we men desire to achieve. Kipling could not have said it better!


35 Stefanie February 21, 2012 at 2:23 pm

Great work

36 megan February 21, 2012 at 2:56 pm

haha I like fire!!! lol

37 David February 21, 2012 at 7:07 pm

Please do this competition again! Listening to each of the videos was very inspiring. Each had something unique. One of the most enjoyable competitions you’ve done.

38 J. McDonald February 21, 2012 at 7:50 pm

I just stumbled across this website and I LOVE IT! As far as this competition goes I would have to say Man With an Iron Will is the best among the finalists. Man with an iron will obviously shows a lot more effort went into the creation of the video( wanted-A man coming in a close second) and the message is awesome.

39 Jim February 21, 2012 at 8:26 pm

Don’s video has my vote. That is the way the poem was ment to be recited.

40 Reyna Leon February 21, 2012 at 9:17 pm

I really enjoyed your video….

41 Colonel February 22, 2012 at 12:11 am

I just showed these videos to my ROTC cadets and the consensus was “Man With an Iron Will” had the greatest cinematography. All of you fine young men did a great job with the presentation of poems of how a man should live.

42 Chris February 22, 2012 at 9:01 am

Dons “If”is straight up! He gets my vote!!

43 Norma Petterson February 22, 2012 at 10:03 am

!!!Great Job Don!!! Congratulations….
I liked a lot, go ahead.

44 Shelby February 22, 2012 at 10:14 am

Don! That was superb! All the best to you!

45 Shelby February 22, 2012 at 10:16 am

Don, that was superb!

46 Brandon Weldy February 22, 2012 at 11:31 am

After watching the first clip I thought I had made up my mind. I was half-tempted to not even watch the others. What a tough decision. All these videos were amazing and have certainly given me more drive to be the man I need to be.

47 Wanz February 22, 2012 at 11:40 am


If is suberb! I’m very proud of you. Continue to speak your destiny!

48 MARTHA BONILLA February 22, 2012 at 12:57 pm


49 Kem February 22, 2012 at 3:20 pm

Don, This is wonderful it put a lump in my throat. blessings,Kem

50 Peter February 22, 2012 at 4:33 pm

Don…superb recitation. Compelling, and utterly simple.

51 Pierre-Luc Gélineau February 22, 2012 at 10:16 pm

Though choice between Thoreau and Kipling,

Did you guys know that graduating engineers are given a copy of the ‘IF’ poem by Kipling?

52 John February 23, 2012 at 12:44 am

They are all very well done however it was “The Greatness of Simplicity” that moved me. Good work Nathan and thank you to everyone who participated.

53 David February 23, 2012 at 7:29 am


54 Don February 23, 2012 at 11:00 am

This was presented wonderfully and it depicted such strength and character. Kem thanks for sharing. Fantastic.

55 Guy February 23, 2012 at 4:43 pm

Everyone did an outstanding job! I hope they have a permanent placed to stay available on the website.

56 Will Harris February 24, 2012 at 9:44 am

Great job, Don Wright! Your video captured my attention throughout because of your delivery. And, it pumped me up to tackle my day and make great things happen.

57 Terry February 24, 2012 at 11:41 am

They are all done well, my two favorites,,, Conrad and Stephen, Conrad is a great reader, Stephens video very manly very moving

58 Elmira Pitchford February 24, 2012 at 2:59 pm

Don’s video–less is more!. Great job!

59 Tina Opie February 24, 2012 at 9:55 pm

Don, that was outstanding! I want to play this for my children! Great job!!!!

60 Francis N February 24, 2012 at 9:59 pm

Great job Nathan,
Winning is not everything but having a winning character is everything.

61 Leon K February 24, 2012 at 10:50 pm

Don is a Beast!!! Great Job!

62 Leon K February 24, 2012 at 10:51 pm


63 Jon O. BDD '11 February 24, 2012 at 11:31 pm

Bruh Don Wright!!!!

The Omega men currently on the yard at JMU love you and you have definitely done your best! I will never forget “IF” or what it means to me. ROO

Friendship Is Essential To The Soul
est. 1911

64 Cindy Low February 25, 2012 at 8:40 am

For Don Wright, I so much enjoyed your video, beautiful reading of the peom “IF”, which has always been one of my favorites too. The best to you.
(Retired FCPD)

65 Chanda McGuffin February 25, 2012 at 9:52 am

Don, I love the authentic way that you delivered this poem. I am using your excerpt when I am working with young men. Thanks for sharing. It is AWESOME!

66 Brian February 25, 2012 at 12:56 pm

All of these are fantastic. I commend you all, and feel you should all be proud of the work you did.

67 Lucie February 25, 2012 at 3:29 pm

Very beautiful, inspiring and uplifting. Thank you for this simple message.

68 Grandpa February 26, 2012 at 12:58 pm

Great job Steve. .

69 Grandpa February 26, 2012 at 1:01 pm

Fine job Stephen.

70 Terry February 26, 2012 at 1:04 pm

Dons video, beautifuly done

71 Ms. Dell February 26, 2012 at 1:24 pm

Absolutely awesome Mr. Kohn…so few think or feel this way anymore. Simplicity, values, inner self, honor, respect, peace, love of our Beautiful country and the ones who allow us to have and enjoy our freedoms…….I think of and remember you all everyday. Thanx Stephen :)

72 Art Leon February 27, 2012 at 1:34 am

Nathan, excellent job. I believe that if everyone took into account the simple things in life and were happy with what they had instead of always wanting what is beyond their reach we would be a much better people and society for it. I’m very proud of you.

73 Keely February 27, 2012 at 6:18 am

Great site. I will recommend it to my friends and colleagues in the UK. All the recitations are very moving but Man with the Iron Will speaks to the heart. Good luck to all the finalists.

74 mbonilla February 27, 2012 at 4:23 pm

I love your message on life

75 mbonilla February 27, 2012 at 4:25 pm

very true of life

76 richard February 27, 2012 at 6:08 pm

All a winner.

77 Sticr February 27, 2012 at 6:38 pm

Great videos! Tough deciding who will get the vote.

78 Levis February 27, 2012 at 9:49 pm

Don, this was just Awesome and heartfelt…thank you, be blessed and stay encouraged..

79 GRANDPA February 28, 2012 at 7:49 pm


80 Diana Werts February 29, 2012 at 3:38 am

I truly appreciate this post post.Many thanks again.

81 jordan w March 5, 2012 at 1:57 am

excellnt entries… some i liked more than others… think i loved the simple one best, don wright Kipling- it let the words come through

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post:

Site Meter