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The Observer Politics & Public Policy Limerick Contest

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Limericks on steroids: Your chance to knock off a champ

By Taylor Batten
Editorial Page Editor

You, too, can write limericks. But first, read this.

To write a good limerick, the first rule is to understand the specific rhyme scheme and the specific meter.

More Information

  • How to enter

    The contest will run four weeks. Each Thursday, we’ll name a weekly winner. On March 28, we’ll name a grand prize winner, and we’ll award prizes commensurate with this level of competition.

    To enter, email limericks to Editorial Page Editor Taylor Batten at tbatten@charlotteobserver.com or snail-mail them to Limerick Contest, c/o Taylor Batten, Charlotte Observer, P.O. Box 30308, Charlotte, NC 28230. Deadline is noon each Tuesday.

    The only real ground rule: Entries must concern themselves with politics and public affairs. No love letters. For tips on writing a good limerick, go to www.charlotteobserver.com/limericks.


It’s somehow appropriate that the Observer’s first annual Politics & Public Policy Limerick Contest was in 1992 and the second annual one was in 1997. The participants see the world with different eyes from most of us, so it’s fitting that the contest itself got off to a quirky start as well.

Since getting its legs in 1997, though, the contest has run every year, enticing moonlighting poets and delighting readers with a humorous take on the public affairs of the day. Today, we launch the contest for the 18th time.

It’s not a moment too soon for Wes Long of Cramerton. Long has won the contest each of the past two years, and on Jan. 31 he sent me an email to ask if we would be doing it again this year. He couldn’t just ask, of course:

Does the contest continue? Here’s hoping!

If it’s over, we’ll move on, no moping.

And we Longs will come clean,

We just used Androstene

’Cause McGloughlin and Zauss were blood doping.

That last line is a reference to Bill McGloughlin and Joel Zauss, both of Charlotte, and both regular contestants breathing down the necks of Long and his father, John.

In fact, the day after Long emailed, McGloughlin did too, also inquiring about the contest.

We did miss the Convention, it’s true,

And the Cliff, we’re all grateful, is through.

But we still get our jollies

From political follies

In five lines, because that’s what we do.

That gives you an idea of what a limerick is: Five lines of verse, with the meter exhibited in Long’s and McGloughlin’s examples, and a rhyming scheme of A-A-B-B-A. The best limericks also tend to have a hint of lewdness and often employ double entendres.

The Observer contest, though, seeks not just any limerick. We on the Opinion pages spend our lives weighing in on politics and public policy, and that’s what we expect from our limerick writers. With everything going on locally and nationally these days – the Panthers, the airport fight, the streetcar, the legislature and the sequester jump to mind – it’s a particularly ripe time for the contest. Of course, some of the best limericks tackle not big topics like the sequester, but less-noticed news items like, say, an Australian billionaire’s plan to re-create the Titanic and sail it along the same route.

So take a stab at it. Surely someone can stop Wes Long from completing a trifecta?

How to enter

The contest will run four weeks. Each Thursday, we’ll name a weekly winner. On March 28, we’ll name a grand prize winner, and we’ll award prizes commensurate with this level of competition.

To enter, email limericks to Editorial Page Editor Taylor Batten at tbatten@charlotteobserver.com or snail-mail them to Limerick Contest, c/o Taylor Batten, Charlotte Observer, P.O. Box 30308, Charlotte, NC 28230. Deadline is noon each Tuesday.

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