The limelight’s on limericks for St. Paddy’s Day

Posted March 16, 2011, at 5:51 p.m.
Last modified March 17, 2011, at 5:28 a.m.

We never expected that our Bangor Daily News St. Patrick’s Day Limerick Contest would be such a hit. Seventy poems in total from 60 readers, over the course of six days — wow! You covered a wide variety of topics, from Irish pride to Maine’s winter weather. You adhered to our request that the limericks be PG-rated (well, most of you did — but we can’t print those less family-friendly ones). And you did so with lots of good humor and clever word play. Thank you to all who submitted. We wish we could give you all prizes.

We’re proud to announce that the winner of our contest, chosen by a panel of eight BDN staffers, is Peggy Russell of Levant. For her efforts, she’ll receive a $25 gift certificate to Paddy Murphy’s Pub in downtown Bangor. She sent us a delightful bit of Blarney expressing the common frustration all Mainers have with that herald of spring weather — potholes.

“I’ve always written, and right now, in fact, I’m studying poetry,” said Russell, a retired journalist, who credits her love of crossword puzzles for her expansive vocabulary. “I find limericks one of the more difficult forms, because the formula is so strict. I do like form poetry, but limericks are just their own kind of challenge. You really have to be creative and find the right words.”

Aside from Russell’s winning limerick, we couldn’t choose between our 12 other limericks that entered the final round — so we’re publishing all of them. Four of those 12 were submitted by two people: Rebecca McCall of Blue Hill and Carol Tiffin James of Hancock.

McCall sent us two very different pieces — one that’s about the joys of Maine’s fifth season, mud season, and one that’s about a recent comment made by Gov. Paul LePage, which garnered him a great deal of national attention.

“I write a lot of jingles and political limericks for our local paper. I love to write humorous stuff,” said McCall. “I thought the LePage poem would be all right, since it’s not mean-spirited or anything. It’s all in good fun.”

James writes greeting cards for family and friends and confesses that in high school she would write funny poems about her teachers for classmates. Her limericks — one also about potholes, the other about the first signs of spring —  were just two of the eight she wrote after being inspired by the BDN contest challenge.

“As soon as I saw the contest, I couldn’t think of anything else,” said James. “The limerick rhythm was driving me crazy. It took over my life for a day. I really enjoyed writing them all.”

Our youngest entrant was 9-year-old Neily Raymond of Hermon, who submitted a poem about spring. While Neily wasn’t available for an interview Wednesday morning — she doesn’t get home from school until mid-afternoon, after our deadline — her mother Kendra Raymond said her daughter is a budding artist and writer who has been devouring books since she was 4 years old.

“We have the Bangor Daily as the homepage on our computer, and she spotted the leprechaun on the front page and clicked on the article,” she said. “She said, ‘I know how to write a limerick. We learned it in school. Am I old enough?’ There wasn’t an age limit, so she said, ‘I’m going to write one.’ I went off to give the other kids a bath, and when I came back 10 minutes later, she’d already written it. She was so excited.”

Other limerick finalists include John Caruso of Hampden, Kevin and Mary Brown of Pembroke, and Jeremy Lehan, Jo Andrews, Cathy Lemin, Clifton Eames and John Picone, all of Bangor. Stay on the lookout for our next BDN contest — this time with an April Fools theme.

A Maine driver, driving in Spring,

From a pothole got more than a ding.

He dropped and he dropped

And finally popped

From a hole in a street in Beijing.

— Peggy Russell, Levant

Gather round, raise your glasses on high

Kiss the snow and the shovelin’ goodbye

From inland to coast

Let’s all give a toast

To April:  here’s mud in your eye!

— Rebecca McCall, Blue Hill

The country of Ireland is where

There’s luck, ‘cause the Blarney Stone’s there

They kiss it a lot

But the closest we’ve got

Is our Governor’s wee derriere

— Rebecca McCall, Blue Hill

My sister down South is aglow,

Her tulips are starting to grow.

She gloats … We say pooh!

We have tulips here too -

They’re just covered by 3 feet of snow!

— Carol Tiffin James, Hancock

A pothole just swallowed my Jeep.

My car can now join the junk heap.

I was destined to lose;

Winter’s taking its cues

From the NFL playbook:  “Go deep.”

— Carol Tiffin James, Hancock

There was a young lady named Etta

Who fancied herself in a sweatah

Three reasons she had:

To keep warm was not bad,

But the other two reasons were bettah

— John Caruso, Hampden

In the heart of the lovely Queen City,

Is a statue that rouses some pity.

He shoulders his axe

And prays for a tax

So that Babe can be built by the smithy.

— Jeremy Lehan, Bangor

Maine has a writer of fame

Who bears a most regal name

Faith and begorrah!

His genre is horror

Which brings him much wealth and acclaim

— Jo Andrews, Bangor

The people who live here are tough,

Polar dipping sometimes in the buff.

But our patience is gone,

We need to see lawn.

So please, Mother Nature – ENOUGH!

— Cathy Lemin, Bangor

Yes, spring is quite pleasing indeed.

From snowstorms and cold we are freed.

The grass ‘neath my feet …

Oh, grilling the meat!

To Gifford’s I’ll beat the stampede!

— Neily Raymond, age 9, Hermon

A limerick that’s fun can be clean

But naughty ones add to the scene,

So just ask if you dare

‘Cause I’m eager to share

A great one that’s rather obscene.

— Clifton Eames, Bangor

From Denmark to Sweden or Norway,

Paris, Rome or Madrid is a long way.

Though it may seem insane,

If I stay right in Maine

I can drive ‘round the world in just one day!

— John Picone, Bangor

For two months we have lived here in Maine

Oh, the snow and the cold are a pain

But worse than the grumbling

We have no indoor plumbing

For a shower we stand in the rain.

— Kevin and Mary Brown, Pembroke

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