Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest 2004
Congratulations to the winners of our 2004 humor poetry contest!
First Prize $817.70
Chris Kuehn, The Craven
Second Prize $132.00
Tina Blevins, Ron Truman
Third Prize $57.95
S.L. Pierrotti, Ode on a Grecian Formula
- Sarahrae Hill, Twinkie
- Lindsay MacPherson, To A Moose
- Kakie Mashburn, Oh subterranean jewel of starch and carb…
- Misty Massey, Oops! I Donne It Again
- Maggie Miner, Oh Husband! My Husband!
- Claire Mongeau, If We Must Eat Escargot With Plastic Sporks
Thanks to everyone who entered our 2004 Wergle Flomp Poetry Contest. We received a record 975 entries, each more disturbing than the last. This year's winner, "The Craven" by Chris Kuehn, displayed all the qualities we look for in a Wergle poem: a high level of poetic craftsmanship, a manic glee in exploring the possibilities of language, and a hilarious mismatch between lofty style and base subject matter. It is also, sad to say, utterly filthy.
By now, you may have developed some misconceptions about this contest. Here at Winning Writers, we are committed to the highest poetic ideals. We are not just interested in sex and butt jokes. We want sex and butt jokes that have rhyme and meter. Scansion, maybe a few metaphors, synecdoche, anaphora, polysorbate 80 — these impress us. In short, technical merit.
Humorous poetry is no exception to the rule that quality requires care. Like a skater's perfectly executed triple jump, it takes hard work behind the scenes for light verse to achieve the illusion of effortlessness. Don't confuse the effect with the process. Many of the entries in this year's contest were unsuccessful because they seemed dashed-off, repeating old themes (gibberish, bodily functions) with nothing to distinguish them from one another. A good spoof poem should believe in itself, take itself seriously — far more seriously than it deserves. Bad poetry is funny because we feel superior to its pompous sincerity. Our third-prize poem, "Ode on a Grecian Formula" by S.L. Pierotti, is a perfect example.
Parodies were among our strongest entries this year, "The Raven" being a perennial favorite. The honorees also succeeded at denting the pedestals of Walt Whitman ("O Captain! My Captain!"), John Donne ("Death Be Not Proud") and Robert Burns ("To A Mouse"). Our second-prize poem, "Ron Truman" by Tina Blevins, may be the definitive work on the theme of Poetry.com's perfidy. We were blown away by its length and complexity, including the poem-within-a-poem device. "Cruel Arabella!.../I prayed for thee when thou hadst salmonella." Lines that Lord Byron might well envy. Original odes to Twinkies, Pringles and escargot rounded out the list.
Women dominated the winner's circle this year. Are they funnier? Sicker? Can men recover from this satiric onslaught? We'll find out in our 2004-2005 contest, opening August 15, 2004. We're increasing the prize pool once again. It's now $1,609, with a top prize of $1,190. As always, entry is free. The deadline is April 1, 2005. Nicky nacky noo!
Jendi Reiter is vice president of Winning Writers, editor of The Best Free Literary Contests, and oversees the Winning Writers literary contests. Jendi is the author of the short story collection An Incomplete List of My Wishes (Sunshot Press, 2018), the novel Two Natures (Saddle Road Press, 2016), the poetry collections Made Man (Little Red Tree Publishing, 2022), Bullies in Love (Little Red Tree Publishing, 2015), and A Talent for Sadness (Turning Point Books, 2003), and the award-winning poetry chapbooks Swallow (Amsterdam Press, 2009) and Barbie at 50 (Cervena Barva Press, 2010). Awards include a Massachusetts Cultural Council Artists' Grant for Poetry, the 2016 New Letters Prize for Fiction, the 2016 Rainbow Award for Best Gay Contemporary Fiction, the 2015 Wag's Revue Poetry Prize, the 2013 Little Red Tree International Poetry Prize, the 2012 Betsy Colquitt Award for Poetry from Descant magazine, the 2011 James Knudsen Editor's Prize in Fiction from Bayou Magazine, the 2011 OSA Enizagam Award for Fiction, the 2010 Anderbo Poetry Prize, and second prize in the 2010 Iowa Review Awards for Fiction. Jendi's work has appeared in Poetry, The New Criterion, Mudfish, Passages North, Cutthroat, Best American Poetry 1990, and many other publications. See their interview in RoundPier.