March seems a fun month for bits of playful prose and word shenanigans generally.
There’s palindromes, a word or phrase that is the same forward or backward. For example, the classic, “A man, a plan, a canal, Panama,” and “Madam, I’m Adam.” From Time magazine we learn that palindromes were celebrated recently in the first annual SymmyS awards for “outstanding palindrome achievement” organized by stand-up comedian Mark Saltveit, who runs the online Palindromist magazine out of Portland, Ore. The prizes for this painstaking battle of the wits are bragging rights and pencils decorated with author Jon Agee’s palindrome “Todd erases a red dot.” Hundreds of submissions were narrowed down to 40 finalists, ten in each of four categories: long, short, poetry and word-unit (i.e., palindromes that reverse words rather than letters, like “All for one, and one for all!”).
See the winners at http://www.palindromist.org/winners (caveat emptor, some are a bit naughty!)
And of course, in time for St. Patrick’s Day, the limerick, a silly poem with five lines. They are often funny or nonsensical. From http://www.poemsforchildren.org:
There was an Old Man of Kilkenny,
Who never had more than a penny;
He spent all that money,
In onions and honey,
That wayward Old Man of Kilkenny.
Last but not least, the 6 word essay. Hemmingway celebrated this form, opining that any writer worth his/her salt could write an entire story in 6 words. He provided the classic example: “Baby shoes for sale, never worn.”
How about you? If you are suffering from writers block or are having trouble coming up with a plot twist or interesting character for a story, try writing a palindrome, limerick or a 6 word essay. I bet something good will come from all that play time!
(Thanks to Dan for his help with this post!)