Monday, May 01, 2006

Ladies and Gentlemen: Start Your Clerihews

I am not sure whether or not I should admit this. Last year there were threats of hangings for this type of heresy at the Chesterton conference. Last year, at the Chesterton conference I was a {shh--looks furtively both ways} Clerihew Judge.

I doubt whether anyone who reads this blog is unfamiliar with Clerihews, but just in case, it is a form of poem, invented by Chesteron's good friend, Ed Clerihew Bentley, the name taken, as you can see, from Mr. Bentley's middle name.

A detailed description of how to write such a biographical poem is here.

I suggest that even if you think you know how to write one, you may wish to re-read the rules. Because after last year's judging, it was apparent that there are very few skilled in the ways of the Clerihew.

That said, I suggest sharpening your pencils. Because the all new and improved 2006 Clerihew contest is going to take place at the 2006 American Chesterton Society Annual Shin-Dig taking place in just about 7 weeks. And we NEED some {good} Clerihews! Clerihews that really are Clerihews. And the judges, a-hem, have read the rules and will eliminate any that don't follow good form.

I'd really like to see some great Clerihews this year, so why not start now?


  1. Can young Canadian wags win such a contest in absentia?

  2. Furor: I just looked at the rules, go to the ACS main page, click on conference, and scroll down. I don't see anything about needing to be present to win. So, I say, go for it! That way, you'll be "there" at the conference, even if you can't come.

  3. The main things to remember about Clerihews is, 1, they're biographical: a clerihew should say something -- preferably something humorous -- about the subject of the clerihew; 2, they are UN-metrical, no metres please; and 3, they are two closed, rhymed couplets with the first rhyme a play on the subject of the clerihew.


    Nancy Carpentier Brown
    helps award the clerihew crown.
    For this summer she'll help judge,
    sifting out all the sludge.


  4. I'm not going to be there, but I would submit-

    The author looked up under, "Dickens, Charles,"
    Wrote stories of life's many hopes and snarls.
    Not only did "Boz" work with inkwell and pen,
    He enjoyed... let's just say that his kids numbered ten.

  5. Good one, Rhap!

    Btw, to clarify Nancy's comments above about not needing to be present to win, the rules do say that clerihews "received by June 1st, along with a pre-paid registration form, will receive preference from our panel of impartial judges."

    So, Furor, you may mail in your entries, but the best way to guarantee a win is to include a pre-paid registration form too. :)

  6. Of course, to clarify Chestertonian, Furor, you don't need to send any money, just the form. There is no registration fee, only if you came and needed meals or a place to sleep. Otherwise, the registration is free.

    Rhap: great one! Mail it in, and I'll attempt to remain impartial about it, OK?!

  7. Ah, yes, Nancy, true, but I was quoting from the rules, which specify a "pre-paid registration form." :-)

  8. It might be worth knowing what the prizes are, if any, before going to extraneous trouble for the purpose of light verse.

  9. Thanks Mrs. B, & Mr. C :)

    Is there a free, pre-paid registration form for no-shows?

    A list of acceptable bribes would be helpful, too!

  10. Furor:
    The main reward is having it read to the crowd at the final dinner Saturday night, a delight you would miss.
    Secondarily, they are printed in the future issues of Gilbert.
    I hope this is enough encouragement for you to still put forth the effort. Now that I think of it, perhaps this explains the, well, sort of poorish quality we sometimes find amongst the entries. :-)

    Chestertonian, can we come up with a better prize? How about a year subscription to Gilbert free? I think that would entice a person like Furor....there must be others. too.

  11. There are prizes. Dale usually has some neat-o books and other Chestertonia to give away to the winners.

    but really, isn't being published in the World's Greatest Magazine prize enough?

  12. 'Un-metred' is an interesting variation for poetry-

    It's like singing off-key on purpose, which isn't easy to do if you know how to sing.

    Is it a stead-fast rule?


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