We, at The Nervous Breakdown, take writing very seriously (for the most part) but the 2010 Limerick Contest promptly dropped those drawers and put an archaic poetic idiomatic form to task with contemporary quills scrawling away with some, well, compelling results. Yes, the institution of the beginning and ending “C” regulation did provide a sturdy challenge (thank you, Satan) for some and for others, a downright study in frustration.

Surprisingly, save one brief mention in the comment section of our Holiday Limerick Contest, the city of Nantucket did NOT make an official appearance, though New Brunswick was represented (oh, those Eastern Seaboard regions and their sexual shenanigans). And weirdly, Balzac, a hamlet outside of Calgary, Alberta, did show up in one of our limerick entries. And what a great name for a limerick town, Balzac.

Factoring into the equation the perfunctory holiday theme, the structure, form and rhythm regulations,  literary prowess and the inherently bawdy nature of traditional limerick writing, we at TNB have arrived at one winner, who will win a signed copy of Tom McCarthy’s new novel, C (strangely enough, there is one letter depressor on my laptap which has gone missing and you might guess which one that is, no shit).

We, however, want to salute all those who entered this curious literary forum and played this wicked game. Really, the response was great. As was the talent, which I am now going to mention honorably in specially-confectioneered categories because most entries did not adhere to the holiday theme but still deserve to be highlighted nonetheless.

Last but not least, we want to thank the good people at AbeBooks for sponsoring and for offering up such a fabulous prize….


5. Honorable Mention for Pure Historical Acumen in the Guise of a Limerick:

Meg Dt

Churchill, while not quite a pillock,
never quite perfected Cyrillic.
The reason, he said,
and what filled him with dread,
was that Stalin he found diabolic.

*and for not only rhyming the words, “pillock” and “Cyrillic,” but for even using them…when was the last time you heard someone called a ‘pillock?’

*and although Uche was thusly disqualified for not only being a poetry editor of TNB, but also for not following the C parameters, i mention him somewhat honorably for using the most unlikely and imaginative rhyme: “hear ya” and “bacteria…”


4.  Honorable Mention for Most Clever Traditional Erotic Limerick:


Cunnilingus is considered erotic,
yet you lay there like one catatonic,
I wish you would coach it
yet I can’t seem to broach it
“Cat’s got your tongue” seems ironic

*uhm, sufferable or insufferable? either way, I like it…


3. Honorable Mention for Most Mundane Existential Limerick:


Charles, while writing his limerick
beat out the time with a chopstick.
he didn’t want to allude
to anything rude,
just to try to keep it rhythmic.

*very William Carlos Williams here, simplistic momentary image and hey, conscientious for the family fish house…

2. Honorable Mention for successfully deviating from the ‘ic’ word factor:

Stepanie St. John Olear

Can you please give me a callback?
It’s not like I’m living in Balzac.
The Skype is still free.
I’ll be up until three
To finish my bottle of Malbec.

*and as previously mentioned, using an obscure little Canadian village…also, pretty nifty slant rhyming…


1a. Honorable Mention for Most Impeccable Rhythm, Mixing Academics, Off-the Hook Sexual Antics, an Eastern Seaboard location, while Retaining the True Bawdy Tradition of Limerick Writing:


Came a young slut from New Brunswick,
’twas science that made ‘er cunt slick.
Her actions on campus,
gave her many bad crampus;
for she fucked the whole polytechnic.

*Classic, just classic, fuckin aye…


1b. And a Special Honorable Mention for the best Jesus Limerick:


Christ was a humble ascetic
that Pontius Pilate conceded
was too big a lout
to let walkabout
so he slipped him the nails orthopedic

*Oy, Jesus, pretty skillful…notice the word “ascetic” is pronounced with a long E to rhyme properly…


1c. And an Extra-Special Honorable Mention for Utilizing the Highest Volume of Cs, Consonants and Ridiculously Absurd and Lewd Language While Still Respecting the Scheme:

also dwoz

Cunt cunty cum cunt cunty coccyx
fuck fuckity fun fucking fuckit
front cunt squirty squirt
cunt front flirty skirt
cunt cunty fun cunty cunt pubic

*intentionally naive, juvenile and disregardful as all Hell…there is a veiled sophistication here…


and 1d. Honorable mention for The Most Clever Usage of the Alphabet:

Greg Olear

Chuck’s straight as a straight man can be,
While Tim’s gay, obviously.
The third brother, Ray,
Is neither B nor A,
He’s bi, which is to say, he’s a C.

*if this were not a holiday contest, well…he is donning the gay apparel…

And now, Ladies and Gents, the 2010 TNB Holiday Limerick Winner:

J.E. Fishman!

Christmas Eve old Saint Nick on a lark
Gave his woman a goose in the dark.
But a reindeer he nailed
In his fluffy white tail
And sweet Rudolph sailed off in an arc.

*Uche and I both independently agreed that J.E. Fishman’s limerick won for the criteria being the previously-stated Holiday thematic content, a story arc that immediately locates us and and takes us somewhere with action,  true respect to the written tradition of the limerick, intact with sound cadence, a tawdry situation and a humorous conclusion.

Congratulations, J.E. Fishman! You have won a signed copy of Tom McCarthy’s new novel, C.

And remember, don’t drink too much this holiday season; just enough and then some, for those awkward family situations and chance meetings under that devlishly pointed shiny sprig…

-Milo Martin
TNB Poetry Editor

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Writer MILO MARTIN, a poet by trade, is the author of a collection of poems entitled Poems for the Utopian Nihilist (Echo Park Press, 2008). Milo has toured extensively throughout the United States and Europe. He has been invited to perform at international literature and poetry festivals in France, Italy, Germany and Croatia as well as numerous venues in Estonia, Switzerland, Holland, Liechtenstein and Serbia. His works have been translated into four languages. Educated at San Francisco State University and the University of Southern California, he currently resides in Los Angeles. Milo is also currently Co-editor of the poetry section of The Nervous Breakdown. He contends that birds and insects are manifest angels.

9 responses to “2010 TNB Holiday Limerick Awards”

  1. Jessica Blau says:

    Oh I love them all! dwoz is quite a brave limerickist (is that a word??).

  2. Greg Olear says:

    There is much rejoicing in Casa Olear.

    Thanks for doing this, Milo. Quite fun.

  3. Thanks for the Honorable M!!

    I may be a bit more happy and excited about this, than what is probably considered normal.

    Thanks so much!!

  4. Gloria says:

    Way to go, Steph. I liked yours very much. 🙂

  5. J.E. Fishman says:

    I commend you two gents for your good taste and technical know-how. When I sell the movie rights, lunch is on me.

  6. Sarah Clearly says:

    I smell cronyism and a rigged contest!!!!

  7. Irene Zion says:


    This was really (orturetay) fun!

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