You, perhaps, see Congress debating homeland security or the City Council discussing non-discrimination ordinances and wonder about our times. People like Charlotte’s Bill McGloughlin see them and wonder about his rhymes.
Today, we kick off the Observer’s 20th Politics & Public Policy Limericks Contest – and invite you to join us. It’s a chance to combine your wit with your passion for news to give Observer readers a chuckle and relief from the typical headlines.
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McGloughlin, a regular contributor and a past champion, is ready to dive in. When he heard about Sen. Thom Tillis’ idea last month that restaurants shouldn’t be required to make employees wash their hands, he gave his take, in anapestic meter.
Tillis garnered some giggles and catcalls,
With his comments on state health code shortfalls.
I’m no socialist, though,
I would still like to know
That the waiter’s not handling the meatballs.
Last week, meteorologists whiffed on their forecast, suggesting Charlotte was in for much more snow than it got. McGloughlin wasn’t surprised:
The forecast just felt so bizarre,
The projections for snow went so far,
But the nine-inch prediction
Soon turned out to be fiction
Like so many nine-inch stories are.
John Long of Stanley won the contest last year, on the strength of limericks like this, after a man was arrested for sucking a woman’s toes at a Lincolnton Wal-Mart:
Now I’m just an average Joe,
Don’t care nothin’ ’bout suckin’ a toe.
But heaven forbid,
If I ever did,
I think Wal-Mart’s the LAST place I’d go.
The contest will run four weeks, and will appear in this space each Thursday and online on Wednesday afternoons. A new element we hope to institute for the 20th anniversary version: some of our limerick writers reading their selections on video. Record yourself on your iPhone and e-mail it in. (Keep it as short as possible.)
The judges (yours truly, with help from Observer editorial board members) will award weekly prizes and a grand prize, of a stature that a competition such as this deserves.
Send entries to me, Editorial Page Editor Taylor Batten, at firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline is 9 a.m. each Wednesday. Entries should concern themselves with current events, preferably politics and public policy.
Read the tips below. And as the butler Hobson said to Gloria in “Arthur”: I await your next syllable with great eagerness.
How to write a limerick
Limericks basics: Five lines, with a rhyming scheme of A-A-B-B-A. The meter is like that in McGloughlin’s and Long’s examples. 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.