Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest 2012
Congratulations to the winners of our 2012 humor poetry contest!
First Prize $1500
Judith Sanders, Shoppin’ Spree
Second Prize $800
Gerald Cooperman, Shoat Changed
Third Prize $400
Alice Owens Johnson, Piggly Wiggly Goes to the Funeral Home
Honorable Mention $75
- Luke Archer, Medicinal Onanism
- Ryan Bradley, Rumpelstiltskin
- Melanie Branton, Je M’Appelle Pam. Non. Merci.
- Jack Conway, The Agamemnon Rag
- Elisabeth Dahl, I Hate to Ask
- Kathryn Ferrugia, 24 Hours - A Mother’s Collection of Haikus
- Wayne Lee, Acceptance Speech
- Paul Manchester, A Cautionary Tale
- Leah Mueller, Talking to the Dead on Television
- David Stokes, Letter to the Head of Faculty
- Raadhika Vishvesh, Babysitting Blues
- Melissa Woodworth, Someone Who’ll Chew
- Brittany Alward, Emily Dickinson Pulls an All Nighter
- Mary Bast, Whimsy for Willy
- Emery L. Campbell, New Vile Cuisine
- Anwesha Chattopadhyay, My Bus Will Go On
- Angela Cichosz, The Twelve Months of Puberty
- Carole Davis, Luke Skywalker’s Da Punk
- Duane Dodson, Ode to a Turkey
- C.L. Holland, The Charge of the Light Weights
- Kathryn Kauffman, The New Yorker Comes A-Calling
- Nathan Kross, The Valiant Little Tailor; or, Seven at One Blow
- Rachael Kuintzle, Stolen Kiss
- Mary McLean, The Ballad of Spurgeon’s Cottage
- Phatt Panda, Untitled (“My younger days…”)
- Nancy Rapchak, Pizza Is a Vegetable, I Say
- Beth Spencer, For Antoine
Thanks to everyone who entered our 2012 Wergle Flomp Poetry Contest. We are heartened to see such high levels of creativity and irreverence among today's literati.
This year, we give special thanks to our lovely assistant, Lauren Singer, whom you may remember as the author of the 2011 honorable mention poem "regarding eggplant". Lauren conducted the first round of screening, winnowing our 2,602 entries to a shortlist of about 250 for final judge Jendi Reiter. Next year she might prefer to be sawed in half and levitated. But we hope she'll come back.
As a new mom, I find myself on the receiving end of a lot of advice, wanted or not. But here, in my underground poetry lair, the bootie is on the other foot. Before we get to the winners, I'd like to share a few more tips for a successful Wergle entry. Meanwhile, please don't put that in your mouth.
We welcome good political satire. Two potential pitfalls of the topical poem: Is it too strident? Will it stand the test of time? ("Time" in our case meaning the months between when you submitted it and when I read it. Not a high standard.) Whether humorous or serious, a poem with simplistic heroes and villains doesn't shed light on the issue, and therefore didn't need to be written at all. As for timeliness, ask yourself whether your target du jour is a momentary headliner (e.g. Anthony Weiner) or likely to be doing ridiculous things for years to come (e.g. the Republican Party).
Nonsense vs. Humor:
Light verse and nonsense are time-honored genres, in which some fine work has been done. Consider Edward Lear's "The Owl and the Pussycat" or Lewis Carroll's "Jabberwocky". But then don't send us stuff like that, because I don't find it very funny. Just a personal preference.
When the epigraph to your poem says "after [other poet's name]", it helps the judges when you include the title of the poem you are referencing, and for extra credit, a link to it online. Otherwise we can't tell whether the humorous elements in your poem are copied from someone else's work.
No Animals Were Harmed:
Graphic descriptions of violence often make us cringe. Unless it's committed by zombies.
Judith Sanders took first prize this year with "Shoppin' Spree", a talking blues that satirizes consumer culture. The narrator piles up a farcical list of ever-more extreme wants masquerading as entitlements, imagining she can shop for all the things money can't buy—youth, beauty, adventure, friendship. She proudly makes no distinction between true and ersatz achievements, since after all, the appearance of genius is just one Wikipedia-click away.
Gerald Cooperman's well-plotted and rhymed second-prize narrative, "Shoat Changed", stars an extraordinary three-legged hog who finds that the reward for his bravery is not all it's cracked up to be. The twist ending stayed in my mind and made me smile through multiple rereadings of the shortlist.
Putting the fun in funeral, Alice Owens Johnson won third prize for her sarcastic account of a small-town Southern memorial service, "Piggly Wiggly Goes to the Funeral Home". This poem rang true for me because the most solemn occasions do tend to provoke the most perverse humor.
Our honorable mentions and finalists answered my plea for more contemporary humor, including parodies of songs by Adele and Celine Dion, as well as poems that poked fun at time-wasting Facebook apps and cable-TV psychics. Traditional subjects like masturbation, gluttony, and Emily Dickinson were not overlooked, either.
Our 2013 contest is now open for entries. We look forward to seeing what naughty words you can find in your alphabet soup.
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.
Lauren Singer is an assistant judge of our Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest and North Street Book Prize, critiques poems, stories, and essays, and is a past judge of our Tom Howard/John H. Reid Fiction & Essay Contest. She is a native New Yorker living in Western Massachusetts. Her poetry has been published in Nerve House, Bareback, Feel the Word, Read This, Kosmosis, One Night Stanzas, and other literary magazines across the country. In 2015 she received her MSW at the University of Chicago, is a graduate of Bard College at Simon's Rock, and an attendee of the New York State Summer Writer's Institute. She has self-published three chapbooks and received an honorable mention in the 2011 Wergle Flomp contest. In addition to her creative interests, Lauren works as a mental health clinician and therapist in Holyoke, MA. Lauren prides herself on her wealth of useless knowledge, namely of nineties R&B lyrics, and she can pretty much quote "The X-Files".