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Now that NaNoWriMo has ended (more on that later), I'm suddenly inspired by a new writing project. The December 1 entry for Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day is "clerihew":

clerihew \KLAIR-ih-hyoo\ noun

: a light verse quatrain rhyming aabb and usually dealing with a person named in the initial rhyme

Example sentence: My favorite of Edmund C. Bentley's clerihews is the following: "What I like about Clive / Is that he is no longer alive. / There is a great deal to be said / For being dead."

Did you know? Edmund Clerihew Bentley (1875-1956) was an English writer whose book Biography for Beginners was published in 1906 under the name E. Clerihew. It was a collection of simple, humorous four-line verses about famous people. Bentley had begun writing them as a bored high school student. He didn't call them clerihews himself, but his readers began to do so after the book appeared. How soon after, we can't be sure, because so far we've unearthed nothing earlier than a 1928 description of clerihews as "nice slack metres and sly points." In any case, people have been having fun writing their own clerihews ever since Bentley shared his.

In the spirit of well-intentioned but generally pointless writing exercises, I'm declaring December to be National Clerihew Writing Month, or NaClerWriMo. I vow to write a clerihew every day this month, and post it here at Pete Lit. Here's my first effort, in honor of my oldest and dearest friend, a former college roommate of mine:

A slacker named Fred
Could oft pass for dead
As he slept until noon
From July on through June.

Incidentally, "noon" is being rather generous to Fred, at least during our college years.

December 2, 2006 in Fiction, NaClerWriMo | Permalink



Posted by: SR at Dec 2, 2006 9:12:35 AM

Back in JHS 285 around 42 years ago, our ninth grade English teacher Mrs. Sanjour made us all write clerihews. I don't remember any of them except one girl who wrote about our teacher and managed to rhyme "Sanjour" with "grandeur," which I thought was pretty neat.

They do teach kids who people like Sir Christopher Wren were.

Posted by: Richard at Dec 3, 2006 10:19:55 AM