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Rusty Saber

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by Joe McAdoo

It's back. By popular demand (two people have asked when it would return) the Rusty Clean Limerick Contest returns. I would call it the second annual contest, however, the first annual contest was held in June 1996.

Oh, well, what the heck. Let's call it the quasi-annual contest. Whatever it's called, let's make the second contest bigger and better than the first one. It drew 23 entries from poets and would-be poets. By printing honorable mentions, runners up and a tie for first, nine readers became published poets!

Limerick writing can be fun; but it may be a lost art. If so, this contest may revive it or kill it once and for all. A limerick is a humorous verse consisting of five lines. The first, second and fifth lines rhyme, as do the third and fourth. When read aloud, the rhyme scheme gives a lilt to the verse.

Limericks appear to be nonsensical. But they aren't as simple to write as they may appear. The organization must be tight in that a complete story is told in the five short lines. Word economy within the rhyme scheme is a must.

When the first contest was announced, I used a famous limerick as an example. I selected it because it clearly demonstrates the necessary economical rhyme scheme, and it's clean enough to use in a family publication:

An accident really uncanny

Occurred to my elderly granny.

She sat down in a chair,

While her false teeth lay there,

And bit herself right in the Fanny.

A second sample limerick I used back in 1996 to help explain the reason "clean" appears in the title of the contest:

A limerick packs laughs astronomical

Into space that is quite economical,

But the good ones I've seen

So seldom are clean

And the good ones so seldom are comical.

That's right. Many of the best limericks aren't suitable to appear in a high-class publication. And in spite of the fact that the Rusty Saber appears in it, SBJ is a high-class outfit. So, as they say at Proctor and Gamble, "Keep it clean."

No prizes were given to the winners of the first contest. People write poetry for the sheer love of it; I thought it would be crass to give a monetary reward I certainly wouldn't want to be called crass.

Besides, the winners and runners up were rewarded by becoming published poets!

However, some misguided souls called me a cheapskate. I'd rather be thought of as crass than cheap.

Drum roll, please. A grand prize will be awarded to the first-place winner. It will be a prize more valuable than money, diamonds, jewels or gold. Hit the drums again, please. The winner will receive an autographed copy of my book, "McAdoo About Nothing" (you want crass, I'll give you crass). Should the winner already have a copy of my book, well, he or she will have two copies. No doubt about it, this is a high-stakes contest.

Winning limericks will appear in a future Rusty Saber column. You, too, can be a published poet.

Contestants may submit as many limericks as they like. Entries must be original and, although they will appear in this column, they must be tasteful.

Send entries to: Rusty Limericks,

c/o Springfield Business Journal, PO Box 1365, Springfield, Mo. 65801. Or fax to 831-5478. Include name and address so the grand prize can be mailed to the winner.

You creative, clever readers, get your juices flowing.

This limerick contest is winnable

If yours is clean and presentable.

Keep the rhyme scheme in sight

And the organization tight:

Your limerick will no doubt be printable.

(Joe McAdoo is former chairman of the communication department at Drury College and a Springfield public relations consultant.)

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