What do GK Chesteron, Lady Gaga, MacGyver, and Aaron Roughton have in common? They were all the subjects of clerihews in the Jonathan-Rogers.com Clerihew Contest.
The response was overwhelming. Thirty-seven of you submitted eighty-eight clerihews on fifty different subject. We had a tie for the most popular subject, with eight clerihews each: GK Chesterton and Aaron Roughton. The proliferation of Aaron Roughton clerihews is attributable in part to the confusion regarding the pronunciation of his name (Dan Kulp wrote about five to cover every possible pronunciation) and in part to the fact that Aaron wrote one about himself. My thoughts on the Aaron Roughton matter may be summed up in a clerihew (using my preferred pronunciation of his name, which is not, as it turns out, Aaron’s preferred pronunciation):

Aaron Roughton–
Who’d have though him
A literary muse?
Yet he inspired eight clerihews.

I suggested fourteen of the more colorful characters from this blog as possible subjects for clerihews. You wrote about all but one of them; strangely enough, Martin Amis didn’t attract the interest of any clerihew contestants (though, if I’m not mistaken, he was the subject of this blog’s first clerihew, by Dan Kulp (of course), in the comments section. I also wrote a clerihew about Mr. Amis, which you may have missed, buried as it was in the comments:

Amis, Martin,
Had a part in
Edifying millions–
None of them chilluns.

Mark the Spiderman fan/dog baptizer didn’t receive nearly the attention I felt he deserved–only one clerihew, but it was quite a strong one by Patrick:

Mark the Presbyterian Baptizer
Spider-man hologram hypnotizer
Dunking dogs into Heaven is just as fun
As swinging from webs catching crooks on the run.

I wrote one about Mark myself:

Third-grade Mark
Turned off the dark*
And started a one-man schism:
Veterinary Calvinism.

*I hate to have to footnote a clerihew, but I would hate worse for anyone to miss the joke; the Spiderman musical running now on Broadway is called Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark.

A number of Rabbit Roomers got clerihewn–the Peterson brothers, Randall Goodgame, the Captains Courageous, and Andy and the Andys, as well as figures associated with the original Rabbit Room in Oxford–JRR Tolkien, CS Lewis, and their forebear George MacDonald.

Not surprisingly, Chuck Norris was the subject of a couple of clerihews. BuckBuck the Nordic Wonderduck made use of the well-known fact that Chuck Norris rhymes with orange. Aaron Roughton’s clerihew, like so many Chuck Norris-related amusements, ended with a roundhouse kick to the face. Which reminds me of my favorite Chuck Norris joke: When an episode of Walker: Texas Ranger aired on a Paris television station, the French surrendered to Chuck Norris just to be on the safe side.

Hannah and Loren actually carried on a dialogue in clerihew, whereby Hannah corrected Loren’s spelling of Tolkien and Loren retorted back. (She didn’t actually retort, but that sounds more exciting).

A couple of you used the clerihewic form as the vehicle for groan-inducing puns. I had to read luaphacim’s entry two or three times before I realized he was making reference to Frito chili pie:

Chito, who whispers to crocodiles,
Made fancy pies for his reptiles.
Those big brutes decided to increase their size
By utterly demolishing Chito’s Frilly Pies.

Here’s a very skillful pun from EmmaJ:

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien
Was enamored with wolkien;
He never would stop it,
For there’s no better hobbit.

John Slone, another punner, offered up this cheap clerihew:

Dr. Seuss
Had his noodle in a noose.
To paint his next picture should he dabble in blue,
Peradventure a pale-green or cheap clarry hue?

John Slone also wins the dubious honor of “most obscure” clerihewist. No amount of googling revealed to me the identity of his “Cheese-paring Pam” or “Rick Roll.” But the most rewarding obscure clerihew, I think, came from Michael Ramsay:

Marcel Bich
was incredibly slick;
with Edouard Buffard
loosed countless poems untoward.

No doubt Bich and Buffard did turn all kinds of poems loose on the world. They were the co-founders of the Bic Corporation.

It was my intention to remark on each entry….but I had no idea there would be so many! So before we move on to the main awards ceremony, let me say that you once again delighted and impressed on Audience Participation Friday. Thanks for this outpouring of creative energy. If postage wasn’t so high, I’d send you all a book. I tell you what: if you entered a clerihew, send me your mailing address in the “Contact” form on the right, I’ll send you some Charlatan’s Boy bookmarks. I know that’s kind of a lame prize; you deserve better. But, as the saying goes, ‘You get what you get and you don’t pitch a fit.’

Anyway, the first award is the Lifetime Achievement Award. It goes to a man who first inspired this contest. Dan Kulp first introduced me to the clerihew in a comment on this blog, and he has been a devotee of the form ever since. He entered a whopping ten clerihews in this contest, not counting the two or three he had done in comments on earlier posts and two or three more on his own blog. I’m sure his wife and family are glad this contest is over so he can get back to earning a living. Dan, we all thank you. I’m sending you a signed copy of The Charlatan’s Boy. Just send me your mailing address via the “Contact” form on the right.

For pure poetic merit, the best clerihew, I believe, came from Pete, who spoke of the Turtle Man in the voice of a turtle:

Turtle Man
pluck me up by my tail if you can
Loose your hoot in toothless bliss
Grace me with your chainsaw kiss.

But I happen to know that Pete already has a copy of The Charlatan’s Boy, so I had no qualms about bumping him down to honorable mention.

The winner of the Jonthan-Rogers.com Clerihew Contest demonstrated everything that makes a clerihew great: good scansion, clever rhyme, an interesting subject, playful language, and insight. On top of that, she added another layer of cleverness that almost made her too clever for Jonathan-Rogers.com.

She wrote:

This entry is dedicated to Dan the Engineer:

01000111 01101111 01110100 01110100 01100110 01110010 01101001 01100101
01100100 00100000 01001100 01100101 01101001 01100010 01101110 01101001
01111010 00101100 00001101 00001010 01000111 01100101 01110010 01101101
01100001 01101110 00100000 01101101 01100001 01110100 01101000 00100000
01110111 01101001 01111010 00101100 00001101 00001010 01110100 01110111
01100101 01100001 01101011 01100101 01100100 00100000 01100001 00100000
01101111 01101110 01100101 00100000 01100001 01101110 01100100 00100000
01100001 00100000 01100100 01101001 01100100 01101100 01111001 00101101
01110011 01110001 01110101 01100001 01110100 00001101 00001010 01110100
01101111 00100000 01101000 01100101 01101100 01110000 00100000 01010011
01110100 01100101 01110110 01100101 00100000 01001010 01101111 01100010
01110011 00100000 01100010 01100101 01100011 01101111 01101101 01100101
00100000 01101001 00101101 01101000 01101111 01110100 00101110

She tried to post this several times, but the blog’s spam filter mistook it for nefarious code and kicked it out. Finally she emailed it to me and I posted it for her. I thought it was funny that she would put binary code to honor Dan Kulp the engineer. What I didn’t realize was that it was actually a clerihew, and quite a good one, about Gottfried Leibniz, the inventor of binary code. I finally got wise and put it into a binary code translator, and this is what came out:

Gottfried Leibniz,
German math wiz,
tweaked a one and a didly-squat
to help Steve Jobs become i-hot.

Could there be any doubt? I hope you will join me in congratulating BuckBuck the Nordic Wonderduck for winning the Jonathan-Rogers.com clerihew contest. BuckBuck, send me a mailing address and I’ll send you a signed copy of The Charlatan’s Boy.

  • Canaan Bound
    12:14 AM, 28 February 2011

    Kudos, BuckBuck! You have (once again) outwitted us all!

  • sally apokedak
    12:36 AM, 28 February 2011

    Hurray! I thought Buck Buck was brilliant with her binary code.
    What a fun contest.

  • luaphacim
    12:56 AM, 28 February 2011

    Well done, Buck Buck!
    And, Jonathan, I am gratified that anyone apprehended my awful pun. Thanks. 🙂

  • BuckBuck the Nordic Wonderduck
    1:42 PM, 28 February 2011

    There are very many cool things about winning the jonathanrogers.com clarihew contest. One of them is getting to wear baggy yoga pants and a six-year-old scrunchie while claiming my award. (Sorry, personal moment.) Even better is getting to breathe the same e-air as Pete Peterson.
    BTW, my husband finished _Fiddler’s Gun_ last night, and he was man-tripping over its awesomeness. He even went so far as to wax eloquent in “DawnMarie” (a new dialect in our home), which was made even more cool by the fact that he’s a central Kentucky farm boy by birth … the sort of guy who chews a half-piece of Big Red at a time to make the 25-cent pack last longer.

    Jonathan, I truly cannot wait to read _The Charlatan’s Boy_. I was really hoping to get the chance to do that before HM2011, and now I can. Adorned by the personal touch of the man himself, no less. I’m giddy!

    And kudos for all the entries. I found myself checking this blog every few hours during the contest, giggling at each new manifestation of creativity. So many times over the past few months of getting to know RR’ers, this quote has come to mind:

    “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: “What! You too? I thought I was the only one.”
    — C.S. Lewis

  • Dan Kulp
    1:52 PM, 28 February 2011

    Thanks Jonathan for running this, it was very fun. It brought out such a huge response (awesome) and so many new commenters (also great). I did convert Buck Buck’s coded offering when it was posted and am truly amazed.

  • Dryad
    2:17 PM, 28 February 2011

    Congratulations BuckBuck! My whole family thought your clever binary clarihew should win.

  • Patrick
    4:00 PM, 28 February 2011

    This was a lot of fun! I’m sure Jess will be impressed that you were able to choose, and that everyone turned out to be winners even if we didn’t get a book. Being a contest held at JonathanRogers.com I’d suspect many of the contestants already have signed copies of The Charlatan’s Boy (I got mine the week it came out). Now I wonder when the Compilation of Poetic Blog Comments will be published? 😉

  • EmmaJ
    4:18 PM, 28 February 2011

    Most dreadfully clever, indeed! Congrats to Ms. Wonderbuck!
    Thanks for offering the clerihew challenge, Jonathan – this was super fun.

    And now I shall add a strange, but true fact: if there was a prize for the most unusual circumstances of composition, I think I could just maybe win. Several of my entries were birthed, you might say, simultaneously with a brand new human being. (Not mine, please note – I have never had a chance to test this, but I suspect that giving birth and composing poetry are incompatible activities.) I was watching over a friend’s toddler son while she was in labor with his brother, and composing silly poems proved to be an excellent activity for sitting in the corner with a snoozy kid, trying to look inconspicuous. It’s a good thing clerihews don’t announce their arrival into the world with the kind of hearty scream my new little friend produced.

  • Jess
    5:11 PM, 28 February 2011

    Yes, Patrick, I am impressed! 🙂 I am also impressed that Mr. Rogers chose the same one I would have if I had been in his shoes (shows he has good taste 😉 ). Congratulations to BuckBuck the Nordic Wonderduck. That was SO MUCH FUN. I don’t think I’ve ever read so much poetry over a span of–what was it?–five days. I mean, I usually stick to one to three serious ones and one or two silly ones per day. 😉

  • S.D. Smith
    6:10 PM, 28 February 2011

    Samuel D. Smithis seriously miffed.
    I’m away taking hikes up a mountain,
    & miss a great chance to poke fun at Roughton.

    • Jonathan Rogers
      11:15 PM, 1 March 2011

      SD, you were missed at the clerihew contest. But I hope you had a good mountaneering trip.

  • Hannah
    7:09 PM, 28 February 2011

    This was great! Thanks for commenting on so many of the clerihews, especially the Marcel Bich one, and for translating the binary code one. Not only creatively expressed but compact and funny when decoded.

  • Hannah
    10:16 PM, 28 February 2011

    Great choice, Mr. Rogers, I can’t deny that. 🙂 I like Mr. Smith’s new one as well. Ha!
    P.S. I’m not the same Hannah as the one on the comment before me…to avoid confusion. 🙂

  • Canaan Bound
    4:45 AM, 1 March 2011

    Is Loren a female? I assumed Loren to be a male.
    I tend to read things differently, depending on the author’s gender.

  • Loren
    1:29 PM, 1 March 2011

    LOL! What great fun and congrats to BuckBuck 🙂 . I’ve been enjoying your comments for a few months in the Rabbit Room.
    Who knew when I discovered Andrew Peterson’s work last fall that it would lead me to the Rabbit Room and I’d end up writing clerihews for Jonathan Rogers! And now (confession) I need to get a copy of “The Charlatan’s Boy” and read it. It’s actually the first Rabbit Roomer work I heard of because there was a great review of it in WORLD magazine last year 🙂 .

    @ Canaan Bound, sorry but you’ll have to adjust your reading perspective. I am a female due to my parents’ love of my great-grandmother’s name, Lorena, and their decision to cut off the “a” without thinking through the ramifications. Can’t blame them too much, they were first-time parents. I also ended up with the initials “LEG” which have been cured through marriage 🙂 . My husband does like to stress, though, that “Loren” uses the long “o” while the feminine version “Lauren” should really rhyme with “ah.”

    So are we doing limericks next week? Or haiku? Or sonnets? 🙂

  • Loren
    1:31 PM, 1 March 2011

    …Okay, way too many smiley faces on previous comment….

  • Patrick
    2:14 PM, 1 March 2011

    No haikus, Loren. They are strictly banned on JonathanRogers.com 😉 (he doesn’t like them). So if you happen to see one here from time to time it’s just rebellious mischief not to be emulated. 😛

  • Dan R.
    5:25 PM, 1 March 2011

    However, since you mentioned your RR connection, you might be pleased to know that haikus are more an Andy Gullahorn thing. If you check out his website you’ll find a trove that should satisfy your haiku hankering for at least a little while. 😉

    • Jonathan Rogers
      11:15 PM, 1 March 2011

      Andy Gullahorn actually is one one the most talented haikuists out there. Which is a little bit like being good at scratching on a chalkboard.

  • Canaan Bound
    6:57 PM, 1 March 2011

    Dan R, I LOVE Andy G’s haikus. This is my fave of his (from a really long time ago):
    Thong on a clothesline
    A first time for everything
    And, I hope, a last

  • BuckBuck the Nordic Wonderduck
    7:20 PM, 1 March 2011

    Painful, Canaan Bound. I can’t stop laughing. I’m crying. And I can’t breathe.
    Loren! Good to “meet you!”

  • Loren
    8:14 PM, 1 March 2011

    Okay, I promise no haikus…. I’ll definitely have to check out Andy G’s!

  • BuckBuck the Nordic Wonderduck
    2:57 AM, 2 March 2011

    Pet peeves are odd things,Jonathan, I have a few
    too. Yellow, namely.

  • Dan R.
    3:24 AM, 2 March 2011

    BuckBuck the rhyming master,Composing even when no one asked her.
    It wasn’t enough to write the best Clerihew,
    She had to come back with a contraband haiku.

  • Dan Kulp
    3:36 AM, 2 March 2011

    Sam SmithMore legend, than myth.
    Such a grizzly beard, ferocious & mean.
    And he writes about a kid named Jellybean.

    I’m waiting for Aaron Roughton to kick you the sub-sub-genre of cleri-haiku. He can name it after himself.

  • BuckBuck the Nordic Wonderduck
    4:36 AM, 2 March 2011

    I am pro-Dan.

  • Bill Naquin
    2:11 AM, 19 March 2011

    Very sorry to have missed your contest- I’d have noted it on our site if I’d caught it in time. If you feel the pull of the clerihew, come see us at ‘The Clerihew Zone’ on Facebook. Our 4th Clerihew Competition ends in about a week; its theme is places…

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