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The Observer’s Politics & Public Policy Limericks Contest

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There once was a man named McGloughlin...

By Taylor Batten
Editorial Page Editor

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  • The fine print

    Each week’s installment will run online late Wednesday and in the paper on Thursday. Send entries to Editorial Page Editor Taylor Batten at tbatten@charlotteobserver.com. The deadline is 9 a.m. each Wednesday.

    Entries must concern themselves with current events, preferably politics and public policy. No love letters.

    Limericks basics: Five lines, with a rhyming scheme of A-A-B-B-A. The meter is like in McGloughlin’s examples to the left. It generally is da DUM da da DUM da da DUM for lines one, two and five; and da DUM da da DUM for lines three and four. In lines one, two and five, you can add a ‘da’ at the beginning or end of each line.



It’s that time of year, when we obsess over basketball, ache for consistent spring temperatures, and see everything in the world in anapestic meter. It’s that time of year for some of us, anyway.

Today we kick off the Observer’s 19th Politics & Public Policy Limericks Contest. It’s a chance for witty news junkies to have their say on current events in a way only they can. We invite you all to give it a try, and see if you can knock off such heavyweights as Bill McGloughlin, who won last year, and Wes Long, who won two years in a row before that.

McGloughlin and Long are among many afflicted with an abnormal fetish, which is why we love them. They can take just about any news story – from Duke Energy’s coal ash spill to stolen pythons – and give it a humorous twist, in rhyme.

McGloughlin says he has been “stretching” in anticipation of this year’s contest. He sent us seven limericks in recent weeks, hoping to prime the pump. One of his best followed the Observer’s regional spelling bee in February:

Rules of English? These days who can tell?

Texting shorthand has shot them to Hell,

But a Spelling Bee? Wow!

I feel better, somehow,

Gd 2 no thr r kdz tht cn spl

He also commented on bankers and their reputations as they received a little extra in their new-year paychecks:

Has success become some sort of onus?

Bankers ask, “Why do folks want to stone us?”

If they’d step back, it’s clear,

The perception, I fear,

Is that all that banks do now is bonus.

You’ll notice in that last one a trait that makes good limericks great: a hint of lewdness. Many consider obscenity a fundamental ingredient of limericks. We appreciate double entendres, but as a family newspaper, we’ll hope you can get close to the line without stepping over it.

The contest will run four weeks, not including today, and will appear in this space each Thursday. We will award weekly prizes and a grand prize, of a stature that a competition such as this deserves.

The real prize, though, will be the material itself. So pick up some pointers in the box to the right, and get those limericks cranking!

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The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.

Have a news tip? You can send it to a local news editor; email local@charlotteobserver.com to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Charlotte Observer.

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