I’m a sucker for unusual writing contests. While I listen to the sound of real deadlines whoosh by, I’ll stay up all night to craft an essay about the future of the bra or write a limerick about sandwiches. I once entered a clerihew contest sponsored by the Chicago Review Press -- but not just any clerihew contest. The Practical Pyromaniac Clerihew Contest required a clerihew (a four line, rhyming biographical poem) on a subject related to pyrotechnics or ballistics.
It’s exactly the sort of challenge I enjoy, and despite having never written a clerihew (or knowing anything about pyrotechnics), I managed to win out of over a hundred entries. I’m intensely driven when it comes to the ridiculous.
My clerihew, by the way:
As German as measles,
But his engine stayed mobile,
So his legacy’s global.
This time, it’s a dead salmon that has my attention. Running Fox Books, an Alaska-inspired author co-operative, sponsors an annual contest to determine who can write the worst poem on the theme of a dead salmon. It’s decidedly tongue-in-cheek, and they claim it “draws entries from all over the world, including Malta, where any salmon, dead or alive, are hard to come by.”
Not wanting to be remembered as a one-trick pyrotechnic clerihew pony, I summoned my best bad writing, and I’ve managed to become a top-three finalist in the Ode to a Dead Salmon contest for 2013. My entry is a text-speak spoof of William Carlos Williams’ “This Is Just to Say” -- you know, that poem about the plums in the icebox.
You can find my entry here (and vote if you like -- it’s a quick and painless poll on the sidebar), along with the other finalists, who have channeled Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Walt Whitman. You know the saying: “Good poets borrow; bad poets steal, bastardize, and mangle beyond all reason.”
This is rather like the Oscars of dead salmon poetry: it’s a thrill just to be nominated. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to prepare myself just in case someone calls for knock-knock jokes related to Byzantine mosaics. (And if they do, I’m on it.)
Feel free to tell me about the silliest thing you’ve written, or craft your own dead salmon odes, haiku, greeting card verse, or sitcom treatments in the comment section.