Herald reader gives the straight scoop on limerick rules

Oh, man.

Do I ever stand corrected.

In a blurb about The Daily Herald’s inaugural limerick contest, I invited readers to write “about girls from Nantucket, but don’t use words we can’t print in the newspaper.”

Reader Mike Hill set me straight. In proper limerick lore, it’s a “man” from Nantucket, he said, and a girl from South Carolina.

Um, with those cues it doesn’t take much imagination to get bawdy. You can rhyme with Carolina and Nantucket, just don’t get too naughty.

We’re still welcoming submissions. No topic is too dull. Write about traffic, rain, baseball, sunsets and pets. Politicians are fair game: Trump is the frontrunner, with six limericks submitted about him, so far.

No poetry skills are required. I’m proof of that.

Michael Mates of Monroe pointed out the flaws in the limerick I wrote to inspire readers:

There once was a paper in Everett

That came up with the best gimmick yet.

Instead of free beer

It offered up cheer

For the readers who sent in a limerick.

Seems I’d violated the strict rules of meter and rhyme which he said made it “sprawl and lack punch.”

On meter, he said: Limericks consist of three anapests (da da DUM) in lines 1, 2 and 5, and two anapests in lines 3 and 4; with care, the writer may substitute an iamb (da DUM) for an anapest. Maybe so, but Iam (too DUM) for that.

On rhyme, well, I blew that, too. “Everett” and “limerick” do not rhyme, Mates said — and they are dactyls (DUM da da).

Dactyls? I thought those had to do with dinosaurs.

Mates rewrote my pitiful poem to illustrate the correct limer-etiquette:

A limerick contest proposed [iamb + 2 anapests]

By Everett’s Herald imposed [iamb + 2 anapests]

Certain rules of the game [2 anapests]

Meter, rhyme all proclaim [2 anapests]

And fame shall be yours all disclosed. [iamb + 2 anapests]

Really? That’s better?

He submitted this limerick titled “On Conversing in a Foreign Language.”

With periphrasis, hums and a pause

We all speak through a layer of gauze.

Then come up with a word,

In an order absurd,

While breaking syntactical laws.

I would try to rewrite his limerick but I have no idea what he’s talking about.

Here’s a sampling from the email bag of limericks. Deadline is March 7. Send to abrown@heraldnet.com. Questions? Call 425-339-3443.

There once was a G.O.P. caucus

With debates most decidedly raucous.

Is there no one with sense?

Are all candidates dense?

Provide muzzles, as needed, for focus.

— Tina Glover

There once was a fellow from Everett

Who often would worry and fret.

He’s losing his Boeing,

To S.C. it’s going —

But I guess he’ll just have to get over it.

— Janet Hamilton

She concocted a storm in her kitchen

Brownie Delights that were really bewitchin’

They put your mind on the skids

So were off limits to kids

But scored “HIGH” in the Cannabis competition.

— John Wagoner

Let’s dig us a big tunnel they said

So they told Bertha: go ahead!

When the dust had all cleared,

It was worse than we feared:

We got a big sinkhole instead!

— Gary Barrett

There once was a columnist named Brown,

Wanting limericks to publish ‘round town.

I hope they will reach her,

It’ll be a great feature,

If nothing newsworthy goes down.

— Bill Kusler

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