Grammar Day haiku, a tradition for March 4th, weds syntax and verse

February 27, 2015 By Mark Allen Contests and Awards

There is nothing so timeless as a well-crafted haiku, and nothing says haiku like National Grammar Day.

At noon that day, March 4, we’ll announce the winner of the ACES National Grammar Day Tweeted Haiku Contest. The contest is now open. Start musing.

To enter, tweet a grammar-themed haiku with the hashtag, #GrammarDay. Deadline for entry is noon EST, Tuesday, March 3. Enter as many times as you like. Just try to make sure your entries are grammar-related and haiku-like.

When we started coupling haiku with grammar on March 4, 2011, we assumed there would be a limit to how many ways one could make a 17-syllable grammatical point. There are now hundreds of submissions in Twitter’s haiku vault, and fresh, funny and clever haiku are submitted each year.

Nancy Friedman (@Fritinancy), a name developer in San Francisco, won the laurels last year with a haiku that combined two grammatical fads: the doge meme and the because x construction:

Wow. Very poem
Amaze syllabifying.
Because #grammarday

Rachel Kamins (@MsKFlax) took second place with this:

Neutral third-person
singular pronoun: I hope
someday we’ll find them.

And for those who note our loose definition of haiku, here is one that more closely follows the traditional form. It’s by Julie Linden (@julieatlife):

Birdseed scattered on 
melting snow. Ellipsis points
between winter and spring. 

The winners aren’t always explicitly about grammar, nor are they explicitly haiku. Generally, usage, style and spelling are important to good grammar, and haiku on those topics are fine. Grammar Day haiku only sometimes focus on nature or the seasons.

Prizes this year include a one-year membership in the American Copy Editors Society with all the benefits that come with it; a pass for one ACES day-long editing workshop; a copy of “Things That Make Us [Sic]”, by National Grammar Day founder Martha Brockenbrough; a copy of “Between You & Me: Confessions of a Copy Queen,” by judge Mary Norris; and a choice of exciting products from organizer Mark Allen’s little-used (and now defunct) CafePress site ($25 limit please).

If you’re an ACES board member or employee, or a close relative of the organizer or one of the judges, you can enter, but forces will conspire against your actually winning a prize of any value.

The initial screening team consists of a freelance copy editor, an Ohio State University education professor, and a Bexley (Ohio) Library circulation desk worker, assuming she stops home for lunch that day. A five-judge panel of word experts will determine the winners.

The judges are:

• David Brindley (@wordies), managing editor of National Geographic magazine and a member of the ACES board.

• Martha Brockenbrough (@mbrockenbrough), founder of National Grammar Day and the author of “Things That Make Us (Sic)” and the novel “The Game of Love and Death.”

• Nancy Friedman (@fritinancy), name developer and brand consultant, blogger at Fritinancy and Strong Language, columnist at the Visual Thesaurus.

• Mary Norris (@MaryNorrisTNY), a copy editor at The New Yorker for upward of 30 years; her first book, “Between You & Me: Confessions of a Copy Queen,” comes out on April 6.

• Merl Reagle, crossword-puzzle constructor syndicated in more than 50 Sunday newspapers and featured in the film “Wordplay” and on an episode of “The Simpsons.”

We’re gathering all of the Grammar Day haiku on Storify:

Here is a running tally of entrants into the 2015 National Grammar Day Haiku Contest. Deadline for entry is noon EST March 3, with our expert panel of judges selecting the winning haiku (plural) on March 4, National Grammar Day. Details of the contest are at

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