This year's poetry contest calls for play on football

ROGER SIMON

August 25, 1993|By ROGER SIMON

The summer doldrums are over! The World's Most Dangerous Poetry Contest has returned!

The Ninth Annual Roger Simon Greater Eastern Seaboard Poetry Contest kicks off today.

And as with life itself, there are many rules and few rewards:

RULE ONE: All poems must be on the official theme.

In 1985, the theme was Squeegee Kids, and this haiku by Allison Doherty won:

Squeegees remove grime

Allowing us to see life

More than we wished to.

Allison won an appearance on the Johnny Carson show, where she was noticed by a top literary agent and today she writes under the name Michael Crichton.

In 1988, the theme was the Orioles' awful season, and the winner was Marc Barron with this limerick:

It's silly for me to compose

This verse on the Baltimore O's

Why should I show 'em

This insipid poem

When they really need hard hitting pros?

Get it? Pros/prose? Well, nobody got it back then either, but Marc was foresighted enough to include a sawbuck with his entry.

After winning my contest, Marc was Poet Laureate of England, 1988-1990, and today owns a Hooters franchise in Carson City, Nev.

In 1991, the theme was how to save Maryland, and Scott Katz won with this limerick:

Since domestic assistance abates

And the White House won't help out the states

I hasten to mention to receive intervention

We should change our name to Kuwait.

Scott now lives in an ashram on the Willamette River in Oregon, where he grows organic potato chips.

Last year, the theme was the presidential race, and Arlene Ehrlich won with:

Bill Clinton's excuses ring hollow.

With logic that's quite hard to follow.

When asked about beer,

He said with a leer,

"I tasted, but I didn't swallow."

Today, Arlene is the prime minister of Luxembourg.

As you can see, each year's theme is the issue that dominates daily life in Maryland. So naturally this year's theme is:

A name for Baltimore's new football team.

I realize that Baltimore does not have a football team and may never get a football team, but you can write a poem about that, too.

RULE TWO: All entries must be limericks or haiku.

A limerick, as you know, is an epigrammatic piece of verse in five lines of mixed iambic and anapestic meter. Lines 1, 2 and 5 are in trimeter and lines 3 and 4 are in dimiter, with a rhyme scheme of a-a-b-b-a.

Here is an example:

What if we called them the Kolts?

That would avoid sudden jolts

To that team from Indy

With the owner so windy

Who could then call them Bob Irsay's Dolts.

A haiku has three lines. The first line has five syllables, the second has seven and the third has five. The lines do not rhyme and must express a single, penetrating idea.

Example:

Baltimore needs things.

Like a football stadium?

Sis-boom-bah-bah-bah.

Or:

Give them all a ball

And then they won't have to fight

Over just the one

Can you do better than these examples? Of course you can. (In your dreams.)

RULE THREE: You may enter as many times as you wish as long as each poem is a haiku or a limerick.

RULE FOUR: Each entry must be on a separate postcard. Postcards only! Picture postcards are encouraged as they brighten my day. Only one poem per postcard.

RULE FIVE: Send your pathetic entries to:

Roger Simon's Poetry Contest

The Baltimore Sun

Suite 1100

1627 K St., N.W.

Washington, D.C. 20006

RULE SIX: The Grand Prize is a baseball autographed by me.

Yeah, I know the theme is football, but footballs cost too much.

RULE SEVEN: Enter immediately.

The deadline is whenever I get bored, and past experience tells me that will be very soon.

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