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March forth and write haiku to celebrate National Grammar Day

Without grammar, your haiku would fall to pieces. I think I’ll tweet that.

The National Grammar Day Tweeted Haiku Contest is back. Nearly 180 poems were entered into last year’s contest. They were brilliant. Even picking the best 10 was very difficult. But, National Grammar Day falls on a Sunday this year, so the organizers decided they could handle having another go at it.

We’re flexible with what we mean by “grammar.” The haiku can be about grammar, usage, style or, like last year’s winner, spelling. We’re also flexible with our definition of “haiku.” The haiku form allows for flexibility. Strictly speaking, it should focus on nature or the seasons, but it often strays from convention. And it doesn’t always follow the familiar five syllable, seven syllable, five syllable pattern. Pedants might carefully count syllables, but the point is not conformity but a sense of rhythm that produces a desired effect.

The National Grammar Day Tweeted Haiku Contest has as its prize the admiration of your peers. The winner also will take home a signed copy of “Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing,” by National Grammar Day host Mignon Fogarty, “Things That Make Us (Sic),” by National Grammar Day founder Martha Brockenbrough, and your choice of a T-shirt, mug or tote bag with my favorite piece of writing advice: Be explicit. (www.cafepress.com/EditorMark.)

Here is how it works

Post your grammar-themed haiku on Twitter and include the hashtag #grammarday. Separate lines with commas or slashes. Your haiku must fit in a tweet with the hashtag.

Deadline is 10 p.m. EST Saturday, March 3. The winners will be announced the afternoon of March 4, National Grammar Day.

The initial screening team consists of a freelance copy editor and an Ohio State University English major. They will collect all haiku tweeted with the hashtag and cull the list down to the top 10 entries. Entries will be judged according to how well they fit the theme and how much they look like a haiku.

A five-judge panel of word experts will determine the winner and runners up. They are:

  1. Gordon Roberts, winner of last year’s contest, writer of technical documentation and short poems (though rarely at the same time), and language enthusiast

  2. Martha Brockenbrough, founder of National Grammar Day and the Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar, and author of “Things That Make Us (Sic).”

  3. Dawn McIlvain Stahl, editorial professional with 15 years’ experience and online editor and daily contributor for Copyediting.com

  4. Peter Sokolowski,  a leader of ESL workshops, a pronouncer for spelling bees around the world, and editor at large at Merriam-Webster

  5. Grant Barrett, host of the nationally syndicated public radio program “A Way with Words,” and a lexicographer specializing in slang and new words

Here is last year’s winning haiku:

Spell-checkers won’t catch you’re mistaken homophones. scattered hear and their

Here is the complete list of entries from the 2011 contest: http://markallenediting.com/2011/03/04/haiku-submittedone-hundred-seventy-six-what-a-treasure-trove/

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