Clerihew Contest

Some competitions, especially those with athletic intent, have me eliminated before they start. However, when A-Word-a-Day explained the Clerihew Contest, I could immediately feel an entry coming on.

AWAD is the longest running daily feed to my computer, going back at least fifteen years. I love the words they post each day with the derivations and examples. The words for last week were types of poems, and subscribers were invited to submit samples for a contest that ran during the week with winners to be chosen in each category. The list included clerihew, epigram, cento, limerick, and doggerel. Only one brought out the contestant in me.

The first day’s poem was a clerihew, named for the writer who originated it, Edmund Clerihew Bentley (1875-1956). The earliest documented use was 1928. The AWAD definition was: noun: A humorous, pseudo-biographical verse of four lines of uneven length, with the rhyming scheme AABB, and the first line containing the name of the subject.

When the weekly summary AWAD Issue 663 came out over the weekend, declaring more than a thousand entries, there was one winner and eleven honorable mentions on the page. Mine was not there – but don’t quit yet. There was a sentence between the winner and those honorable mentions that said, “Read on for honorable mentions below (and more on our website)” with a link. Naturally, I followed the link, and there was my clerihew. Well, not exactly there at the top, but number forty-two down the list.

Now I could tell you how to navigate the trail to find my clerihew in the proverbial haystack, but I’ll save you the trouble and put it here:

Author Illustrator Ezra Jack Keats,
With collage and paint forming his beats,
Received a Caldecott Medal on his way
For his picture book The Snowy Day.

I included the explanation, “Coincidentally, the subject of this clerihew would have been 99 years old on March 11. He broke a boundary in children’s literature by writing the first full color picture book to feature a Black child as the protagonist – The Snowy Day.”

You may be curious about what I get for my honorable mention. The answer is – a story for my blog.