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Tweeted-haiku contest returns this week

March 4 approaches, and with it comes National Grammar Day, a day we celebrate with the annual Tweeted Haiku Contest.

Last year, we had more than 3,000 syllables of poetry tweeted with the hashtag #grammarday. From nearly 200 entries, we culled the list to a dozen or so finalists, and then retreated into the grammar conclave, emerging only when we had a winner.

That winner was:

Being a dangler, Jane knew it would have to come out of the sentence

It was written by Larry Kunz (@larry_kunz), a technical writer in the Raleigh-Durham, N.C., area. For his efforts, Kunz won:

  1. A signed copy of “Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing,” by National Grammar Day host Mignon Fogarty

  2. A copy of “Things That Make Us (Sic),” by National Grammar Day founder Martha Brockenbrough

  3. A coffee mug with my favorite piece of writing advice: “Be explicit.”

This year’s winner might very well win similar fabulous prizes, along with the admiration of his or her fellow grammar enthusiasts.

Purists might balk at what qualifies in the contest as grammar or haiku. We’re prepared to be loose on defining both. Usage, style and spelling are important to good grammar, and haiku on those topics are fine, too. Our haiku only sometimes focus on nature or the seasons, as is the form. And they don’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.

To enter, post your grammar-themed haiku on Twitter and include the hashtag #grammarday. Do it now; I’m watching. Separate lines with commas or slashes. Your haiku must fit in a tweet with the hashtag.

Deadline is 10 p.m. EST Saturday, March 2. The winners will be announced the morning of March 4, National Grammar Day.

The initial screening team consists of a freelance copy editor and an Ohio State University education professor. 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 sort of look like a haiku.

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

  1. Martha Barnette (@MarthaBarnette), host of the nationally syndicated public radio program “A Way with Words,” public speaker and author of several books.

  2. Martha Brockenbrough (@mbrockenbrough), founder of National Grammar Day and the Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar, and author of “Things That Make Us (Sic)” and the young adult novel “Devine Intervention.”

  3. Larry Kunz (@larry_kunz), technical writer in Raleigh-Durham, N.C., area, project manager and senior information developer for SDI Global Solutions, instructor at Duke University, and fellow with the Society for Technical Communication.

  4. Bill Walsh (@TheSlot), Washington Post copy editor and author of “Lapsing into a Comma,” “The Elephants of Style,” and the forthcoming, “Yes, I Could Care Less: How to Be a Language Snob Without Being a Jerk.”

  5. Ben Zimmer (@bgzimmer), executive producer of Visual Thesaurus and, language columnist for the Boston Globe, and a frequent guest commentator on emerging words and language issues.

Check out the official National Grammar Day website for more March 4 activities.

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