Editors Have Fun With a Grammar Day Poetry Contest

From a post by Mark Allen at aceseditors.org headlined “Fun With Grammar Wins Poetry Contest”:

Brittany Constable knows that grammar rules can be tweaked for effect. Her winning entry in the ACES: The Society for Editing National Grammar Day Tweeted Poetry Contest breaks convention to make that point:

I know sentence, word, and paragraph
And every rule that makes them
When I know all there is to know
About these rules
I breaks them

She said the poem popped into her head “more or less fully formed” when she was a high school sophomore. “At the time, I also had a thing for Silverstein-esque light verse,” she said.

Judges chose Constable’s poem out of more than a hundred entries in the 11th-annual contest, which celebrates National Grammar Day on March 4. The contest has done haiku, limerick and quatrain in the past, and this year the poetry style was open-ended, as long as the poem fit in a single tweet with the #GrammarDay hashtag included.

In second place, judges chose an homage to Emily Dickinson from Eileen Burmeister, a writer and editor from Phoenix:

Because I could not stop for Grammar
He kindly stopped for me
Those rules embraced by just ourselves
And the almighty AP

I quickly wrote – I knew no pause
And as I penned away
My pride took over and then I saw
My missive showed decay

In third place, freelance editor Claire Valgardson wrote a limerick that gives a quick overview of some changes to the seventh edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association:

In the new and improved APA,
Running heads don’t lead students astray.
You don’t need to trace
A book publisher’s place
Or sidestep the singular they.

Fourth place was a tie, with a haiku from editor, writer and poet Jennifer Wholey:

I told my boyfriend
Lay off the apostrophes
You’re too possessive

and a limerick from another judge from last year, writing expert Roy Peter Clark:

Captain Kirk did once split an infinitive
In a way that he thought quite definitive
To boldly go where
No other folks dare
Is an Enterprise grand, not diminutive

Judges also selected five poems for honorable mention:

Once upon a deadline looming, while I proofread, tired of Zooming,
changing many an “it’s” to “its” and fixing passive voice galore—
while I labored, never ending, one more “then” to “than” amending,
came across another “could of” and I shouted, “Nevermore!”
— Monica Sharman (@monicasharman)

Lofty, mighty marks
to marry words, slay letters.
Apostrophes rule.
— Rebecca St. Pierre (@RebeccaMStP)

Dangling this, misplaced that
Are matters some despise.
Rarely are prizes awarded
To ones with eagle eyes.
Clarity is but one gift
For grammarian to tout
In world of babel and hateful shout.
So let us agree on agreement:
Praise subject, verb, antecedent.
— Lucy K. Grey (@LucyKGrey)

Misspellings are red,
Misgrammarings blue,
My doc is too colourful
But my meaning comes through.
— Allison Turner (@AlliTurner11)

I love a good interrobang
To best relieve one’s sturm und drang
Surprise? Alarm! All in one symbol
Punctuation oh-so-nimble
— Jennifer Wholey (@TheWholeyTruth)

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