Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest 2021
Congratulations to the winners of our 2021 humor poetry contest!
First Prize $2,000
Koss, My Therapist Sez
Second Prize $500
Marcus Bales, Corvid Nineteen
Third Prize $250
J. Clark Hubbard, God!
Honorable Mention $100
- Christiana Crabill, Ode to Two-Ply Toilet Paper
- Matthew DeGroat, Words from the Beehive
- Jonathan Delp, Awaiting What the Train Brings
- Robert Garnham, The Call of the Mild
- Valarie Hastings, Food and Wine Rant
- Matthew Kemp, Leaves of Grass
- Denise Shelton, A Visit from St. COVID-19
- Sarah Totton, The Five Stages of Confusion
- Mike Voltz, A Great Man Speaks
- Mike Walker, Lexicon Obscuria
- Cameron Winship, misophonia
Well...that was a year. Our 20th annual Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest came at a time when many of us were wondering, is there anything left to smile about? Will we die from a white supremacist insurrection, a gender-reveal-party wildfire, or someone coughing on us at the supermarket? Here at Winning Writers, your silly poems—from 5,688 poets—brought us some welcome relief from the sorrow and strangeness of a not-quite-post-COVID America.
Our courageous first-round screener Lauren Singer selected 294 shortlisted entries for final judge Jendi Reiter. In a year full of surprises, one unexpected feature of the 2021 contest was discovering fresh and funny poems about topics that we thought were all played out. Not only the pandemic staples of Zoom etiquette bloopers and toilet-paper shortages but popular Wergle topics like Internet dating and Santa Claus (two themes ripe for a mash-up, honestly!) could still be treated with originality by our poetic masters of mockery.
You can always score points with me by satirizing the mental health profession. (Lauren is a therapist and she approved this poem.) "My Therapist Sez", a prose-poem by Koss, is a riotous tour through therapists with absurdly poor boundaries: one who tells clients about her spiritual orgasms, another with a "frantic animal pit stench" who wants sympathy about his divorce. The saga is deepened by undertones of loneliness and pain from a traumatic love affair that the speaker's self-absorbed counselors aren't helping her process. The poem is full of over-the-top yet relatable moments that begin in humor and end in outrage that better care isn't available to many people.
Second-prize winner "Corvid 19" by Marcus Bales accomplishes two impossible tasks in one. I swore "Raven parodies—Nevermore!" several years ago, but this madcap poem won me over with its incessantly clever rhymes and political timeliness. Plus, it's a pandemic poem whose title is a wonderful joke.
It wouldn't be a Wergle Flomp contest without blasphemy. Third-prize winner "God!" by J. Clark Hubbard is a "character-building poem for one reader, NOW with 4,897,760,256 possible deities!" What if our universe was created by a random role-playing gamer? It's a good explanation for the year we just had.
Our honorable mentions covered such topics as the saintly Dr. Fauci, lawnmower races, pretentious food critics, and right-wing conspiracy nuts.
Our next contest is now open through April 1, 2022, with a top prize of $2,000. Assuming that US currency is worth anything after the climate apocalypse. Otherwise, we'll pay you in toilet paper (two-ply, of course).
The judges would also like to commend these finalists:
Lester Bares, "In Light of Love"
James Bishop, "Jesus at the Beach"
Josh Cake, Untitled ("The man in front of me...")
Kevin DeCramer, "A Bestiary Compendium"
Jen Freymond, "Pill Organizers Are So Helpful"
Taylor Green, "Aunt Enola's Garden"
Jessica Jacobs, "Lemme tell you the one that killed at canasta!"
Claudia Lambert, "An Alphabet Poem for the 21st Century"
Desiree Remick, "Resume of a (Highly Incompetent) Translator"
John Williams, "To the Horror of her Parents, Dolly the Dolphin Fell in Love with a Hammerhead Shark"
Lauren Singer is an assistant judge of our Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest and North Street Book Prize, and 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. An attendee of the New York State Summer Writer's Institute, she is a graduate of Bard College at Simon's Rock and received her MSW at the University of Chicago in 2015. 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".
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.
Photo by Ezra Autumn Wilde