Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest 2022
Congratulations to the winners of our 2022 humor poetry contest!
First Prize $2,000
Leila Murton Poole, Minnie and Dick’s Gender Reveal—Take Two
Second Prize $500
Hillary Smith, Delilah, My Boss
Third Prize $250
Alex Barr, Catalog Capers
Honorable Mention $100
- Jane Ayres, Not Coming
- Noah Berlatsky, Send $19.99 for Supplements and Freedom
- John Paul Davies, Snickering on the Fringe of Debauchery
- Megan Falley, Why So Many Penises (or Should I Say Pee-ni?)
- Amanda Kelly, That One Sounded Like…
- Enchi, I Don’t Think Virgins Deserve Spotify Premium
- Maria Picone, Ni Hao Isn’t the Way to My Vagina
- Peter Schmitt, Emily Dickinson Sits Down to Write the Morning After Watching “The Godfather” on Late Night Cable
- Mark Thalman, Call for Manuscripts
- Wendy Tooth, Baal Downloads Tinder
- Daniel Waters, One Morning When Stalin Was on Network Television
Here in my air-conditioned bunker, watching my civil rights melt away like a politician's bad spray-tan, I'd like to thank the 5,187 people who entered our 21st annual Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest for bringing a little light (verse) to the world. First-round screener Lauren Singer selected 339 poems for final judge Jendi Reiter. We chuckled over satires of social media, workplace absurdities, parodies of the classics, and the perennially entertaining topic of penises (pee-ni?)
Some amusing poems didn't make the final cut simply because we'd already published a few winners on the same theme in recent years. Others had a couple of excellent jokes but didn't sustain momentum toward a satisfying ending (and unlike the couple in Jane Ayres' honorable mention poem, you can't fake that). We also appreciated entries that made serious points about social change while keeping a light touch.
Rejoice, ye traditionalists! First-prize winner Leila Murton Poole's "Minnie and Dick's Gender Reveal—Take Two" is a good old-fashioned poem in rhyme and meter, on a topic that couldn't be more of-the-moment. Seems like someone took note of my aside in the 2021 judges' essay about wildfires caused by pink and blue smoke explosions. Here, the ghoulishly cheerful titular couple won't let casualties stand in the way of their big announcement, but end up contented with the realization that children's identities are not so simple.
Working remotely during COVID may not have liberated us completely from office politics, but it's given us perspective on the fake-upbeat jargon and poor boundaries of corporate culture, as second-prize winner Hillary Smith's "Delilah, My Boss" hilariously demonstrates. These employees at a nonprofit of dubious utility learn way too much about each other's personal habits without getting the essential information to do their job…whatever it is.
Batman, MacGyver, Maxwell Smart—action heroes' clever gadgets can be the most entertaining part of their world-saving shtick. Third-prize winner Alex Barr's "Catalog Capers" arms its super-spy with purchases from The Ideal Home Shopping Catalog. If you've ever asked yourself, "Who would really need lawn aerator shoes or an automatic card shuffler?" the answer just might be "Bond. James Bond."
Inventive poems by our honorable mention winners included a flarf pantoum composed from right-wing podcasts, a satire of overly specific contest guidelines, and a mash-up of Emily Dickinson with "The Godfather".
Our next contest is open now through April 1, 2023, with a top prize of $2,000. Entry remains free. Empires may fall, gas prices may rise, but your mission remains the same: Turn nonsense into cash!
The judges would like to commend these finalists:
Melissa Balmain, "Two-Act Plague"
John Beaton, "The Minister's Grave"
Andrew Cannons, "Patrick, Who Likes to Pull the Wings Off Flies"
Robin Carstensen, "Prizefighter: 101 Variations on a Theme"
Jessica Jacobs, "Saturday Services at the Provincetown Shore"
Jeanne Julian, "The Electric Kettle Sings"
Samantha Sapp, "In a College Town Near You"
Angela Siew, "On Keeping Things Alive"
Joseph Stanton, "Horror in the City That Never Sleeps"
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".
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.