|Around 1990, a few years after Vertech was formed , I was sitting
around doodling and doodled a limerick. And since I was the president and de
facto webmaster, there was nothing to prevent me from putting the creation
up on the website. So I cleaned it up a little and uploaded it. This led me to
wonder if the world didn't need a limerick contest. There wasn't anything to
prevent me from doing that, either. As I conceived it, the monthly contest
would have two components. The first was a straight limerick contest -- sort
of. I would write a limerick and, within the limerick, would designate three
words. Contestants would write their own limericks containing one of the words.
I then put out a call on the world wide web asking for sites to host limericks
containing one of the designated words. The world wide web responded
magnificently and, for four or five years, we had participating sites all over
the Western world -- many in the US and a few more in France, England,
Scotland, the Netherlands, and South Africa. The sites took turns hosting the
words. To illustrate; Let us postulate a limerick that goes
|The linked words were those designated and, for example, in the
monthly contest a San Francisco site might host the word "cat", Edinborough
would take "fat" and Johannesburg "trees". (Click the links to see some actual
Once we had a winner, we had a t-shirt made up with the Vertech logo on the front and the winning limerick on the back. One year, one of our guys who was attending a meeting in Tel Aviv found himself behind an Israeli wearing one of our winners:
Breeds tragedians by the tons,
(Though their tragedies glow,
Their humor's most low,
What else can you expect from Puns?).
Our fifteen minutes of fame.
|The second component of the contest was the Epic Limerick. This
was similar to Beowulf, only a limerick. Again, I would write a limerick
and send it off to the world. This time, however, no words were designated.
Contestants were required to submit a limerick that advanced the story. When we
got a good verse, we dispersed it and the starting limerick, then the first
three limericks and so on until we reached a natural conclusion. The first of
the Epics concerned a fat acrobat named Louise.
Probably not wise to read it all in one sitting.
Another Epic, significantly shorter, also concerned a fat flyer -- Bossy
|And then there was Snavely the Snail. Snave was by far the most
popular of our characters. I won't reproduce the whole Epic here (mainly
because I can't find all of the verses) but let it be noted that the little guy
traveled the world and the universe, finally ending up as Postmaster General of
the United States. I do have the first verse, however, and here it is.
It was Snavely's popularity that did us in. A few dozen sixth grade teachers found Snave on our website and encouraged their pupils to enter the contest. Unfortunately, neither the teachers nor their pupils knew a thermometer from a pentameter and we were inundated with doggerel. I therefore called a halt to the limerick contests (I was getting pretty sick of them, anyway) and resolved to teach poetry to the Western World. I therefore re-told Snavely's story in five different verse forms -- Elizabethan sonnet, haiku, cinquain, diamante, clerihew, and double dactyl. And the rest is history. We began receiving emails from sixth-grade teachers the length and breadth of this great land of ours, telling us that they were teaching poetry using Snavely as a text. (Using SNAVELY??)