Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest 2006
Congratulations to the winners of our 2006 humor poetry contest!
First Prize $1,190
Nicholas Moore, How to Write a Poem
Second Prize $169
Jim Neill, Masculine Message from Damion McGraw
Third Prize $60
D.M. Burns, Like a Snow Day
Honorable Mention $38
- E.V. Noechel, An Ode to Taste
- Chris Paul, Gerry Sears
- Tammi Reynolds, The Diet Song of J. Anna Prufroski
- Magenta St Germain, Solitude
- Maggie May Schill, Your Hands Do the Work of 10,000 Highly Trained Lesbian Jumping Beans
- Steve Gottlieb, Automotive Safety Survey
- Sarah Estes Graham, War Is SO Bad: A Compendium of Truth
- Holly Kreger, Untitled (“Drainpipes: angrily grumbling…”)
- Benjamin Taylor Lally, Untitled (“When the time comes…”)
- Holly Martin, Love Is Not All
- Gayle L. Porter, The Crack Epidemic
- Charity Remington, The Rebellion of Jane
- John Ryan, Sonnet for My Roommate
- C.J. Van Gieson, Take Out
- Andrew Williams, Hillbilly’s Folly
Thanks to everyone who entered our 2006 Wergle Flomp Poetry Contest. We received 1,061 entries. All I can say is...we have some seriously disturbed poets out there. We like that.
Though Wergle's stock-in-trade is humor, our contest does have some serious aims as well. Wergle Flomp was sent to Earth on a mission to warn novice poets about vanity contest scams. These "free" contests praise and publish laughably awful poetry in order to flatter the authors into buying expensive anthologies, plaques, tote bags, billboards, skywriting, life-size gold statues of themselves, and whatever other personalized products the clever folks at Poetry.com can come up with next. Along the way, we've found that our winning entries could also be a tutorial for poets, rather like the "Fashion Disasters" page at the back of a glossy magazine. Poetry is like a power tool; once you see how horribly it can go wrong, you're less likely to point the little sharp thingie at your face when you switch it on.
It is in that spirit that we present you with our first-prize winner, "How to Write a Poem". Nicholas Moore gleefully satirizes the stock figure of the Romantic Poet—affected melancholy, obsessive love, alcoholic binges, and an ego far larger than his poetic talents. "Get drunk alone in your living room,/Wearing nothing but a swimsuit/Made of Polaroids of your ex-girlfriends." Meanwhile, "Magenta St. Germain" (aka Deborah Wilton), one of our Honorable Mentions, gives us the teenage girl version of this character, whose self-pitying ballad "Solitude" seesaws between Shakespearean diction and text-message lingo. "IMHO, thou dost not comprehend how hard my life is." Such cringe-worthy inconsistencies in voice and style are familiar to many creative writing teachers.
Having tried myself to compose poetry from the junk emails that fill my inbox, I can tell you that writing a hilarious spam collage like our second-prize winner, Jim Neill's "Masculine Message from Damion McGraw," is harder than it looks. Spam shares some characteristics with bad poetry. Its tone of authority clashes with its preposterous claims and its illiterate grammar and spelling. Because spam often contains random off-topic phrases to deceive filtering software, the incongruity adds another layer of humor. Neill's couplets take full advantage of this: "An Email From God!/ha ha ha your penis is so small".
What can I say about our brilliantly original third-prize winner, "Like a Snow Day" by D.M. Burns? It's like a clown who isn't laughing. You don't know whether he's about to do a pratfall or kill you. The humor contends with a mood of tension and paranoia that Richard Nixon, one of the five presidents whom Burns forces into absurd predicaments, would surely recognize.
On to the Honorable Mentions. I promised myself this year, "No more T.S. Eliot parodies!", but Tammi Reynolds' "The Diet Song of J. Anna Prufroski" was so tightly crafted that I found it hard to believe "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" was not originally about weight loss. "Gerry Sears", Chris Paul's energetic parody of Samuel Taylor Coleridge's "Kubla Khan", transposed Xanadu to a blue-collar paradise of beer, testosterone, and "pick-ups, ancient as the hills,/Jacked up on monster tires of glory." E.V. Noechel's "An Ode to Taste" is a winsome example of light verse, with many clever rhymes, as well as good decorating advice. And as for Maggie May Schill's poem...even telling you the title would spoil the fun. It's one of a kind.
Although I do love parodies, I get bored with the same poems being chosen over and over. If you must take on Robert Frost, look beyond "The Road Not Taken" and "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening". Shakespeare was another guy who wrote a lot. How about some new sonnets, or a soliloquy or two? Eliot, Edgar Allen Poe, and Allen Ginsberg are almost too easy to parody, since their styles are already so exaggerated. Dust off your Norton Anthologies, people.
There were too many good poems to choose just eight, so this year we're also publishing 10 finalists on the site. Of these, Sarah Estes Graham's "War Is SO Bad: A Compendium of Truth" deserves special mention. This brave soul decided to parody me—specifically, the list of cliches that I tell our War Poetry Contest entrants to avoid. That's the contrarian spirit we appreciate around here.
Our 2007 contest is now open for business. We doubled the prize pool, but there's still no fee to enter. The deadline, as always, is April Fool's Day. Go drink some cheap whiskey, and "Turn Nonsense Into Cash!"
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.