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Time to reflect on contest without another headline in haiku

If you missed the exciting celebrations of National Grammar Day on Friday, I urge you to   postpone any morning meetings and spend some time reviewing all that was written to mark the day in celebration of the underlying structure of the English language.

Start at, where you’ll find the official song, “March Forth” (featuring an Editor Mark cameo in which I do not sing), and the winners of the National Grammar Day fiction-writing contest.  National Grammar Day host Mignon “Grammar Girl” Fogarty has stocked the page with lots of links to keep any grammar aficionado busy all morning.

At the Editor Mark blog, you will find the winners of the National Grammar Day Tweeted Haiku Contest. The first-time contest ( did a limerick contest last year) brought in about 180 entries (that’s over 3,000 syllables) of grammar-related haiku. These were shared on Twitter, a medium friendly to haiku. As part of your Grammar Day review this morning, check out the hashtag #grammarday and you will find the haiku sprinkled throughout the stream going back several days.

Here is the winning haiku:Spell-checkers won’t catchYou’re mistaken homophonesScattered hear and their

It was written by Gord Roberts. It should be noted that Roberts is Canadian, and as such was politely apologetic for stepping into a “national” haiku contest. But the rules do not exclude, and English is an international language. Its shared structure can be celebrated in dozens of countries and by possibly a billion people.

Roberts did tip off the judges that he was Canadian in one of several haiku he submitted:Can Canucks take partIn National Grammar Day?Grant us this favo(u)r!

Roberts is not new to Twitter but he started a public account to take part in National Grammar Day. His first six tweets at!/GordinaryWords are entries for the haiku contest.

Roberts is a technical writer for a software company in Ottawa, where he lives with his wife and two children and admits to spending some of his free time with “Star Trek” reruns and Nintendo.

“In university, I studied Linguistics but tutored English grammar — thereby learning to walk the fine line between descriptivism and prescriptivism,” he wrote in an e-mail. “I’ve always loved words and wordplay, especially in the forms of haiku and limericks.”

For his winning entry, Roberts wins a copy of Mignon Fogarty’s “Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing” and a coffee mug featuring my favorite piece of writing advice: “Be explicit.”

You can check out all the submitted haiku by going to the blog entry before this one. Go back one more for the list of those tweets given honorable mention status, and two more for the winner and the four runners-up.

But don’t limit yourself to the shorter list of winners. There are many, many gems in the big list, and I regret not having the means to point out those that I appreciate the most. There are simply too many good ones.

I have to thank my wife for her help in culling the list and for her own terrific haiku that she shared with me rather than the Twitterverse. A six-judge panel of word lovers went through the winners and picked their favorites Thursday night and Friday morning so we could post the winner on National Grammar Day. I’m happy to thank them once more:

  1. Jag Bhalla, author of “I’m Not Hanging Noodles on Your Ears” and researcher into the less logical aspects of life and language.

  2. Erin Brenner, blogger, freelance editor at Right Touch Editing, and editor at Copyediting newsletter.

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

  4. GRAMMARHULK, editor, tweeter and lover of ALL CAPS who smashes poor usage choices but took a delicate approach to sorting haiku.

  5. Erin McKean, founder of Wordnik, the online compendium of all the words, and author of “The Secret Lives of Dresses.”

  6. Amy Reynaldo, freelance editor, crossword blogger, and author of “How to Conquer the New York Times Crossword Puzzle.”

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