Winning haiku finds a new angle

March 3, 2016 By Mark Allen Contests and Awards

Tom Freeman was already on track to be the first haikuist to earn a lifetime achievement award from the ACES National Grammar Day Tweeted Haiku Contest. He has been one of the more prolific contributors in the contest’s six years, and he has won second place, fourth place twice, and one honorable mention.

This year, his haiku was the favorite among judges:

Verb would like to meet
An agreeable subject
To give complements

— Tom Freeman

Freeman, who tweets as @SnoozeInBrief and blogs at, says he is “a limerick guy” at heart, but that he likes the constraint of the three lines of five syllables, seven syllables, five syllables.

“For the Grammar Day contest, which I always hugely enjoy because so many smart, funny people take part, I try to think of some aspect of language that I can come at from an unusual angle,” Freeman wrote in an email. “After toying with the idea of subject-verb agreement — I tried to write one where they disagreed, but I couldn’t get it to fly — the idea of a lonely hearts ad floated into my brain.”

Freeman lives in London, giving lie once again to the “National” in the contest title.

Actually, rules stipulate that you must belong to a nation to participate. Freeman is an editor at the Wellcome Trust, a London-based charity that supports health-related research and other things.

“It’s the legacy of Henry Wellcome, who founded the Wellcome pharmaceutical company,” Freeman said. “We publish all sorts of things — most notably longform science stories at — and a team of us edit them.”

For his win, Freeman earns a year’s membership in the American Copy Editors Society along with participation in one of the ACES editorial boot camps the next time he’s in America. He also wins a copy of “Things That Make Us [Sic]” by National Grammar Day founder Martha Brockenbrough; a choice of exciting products from organizer Mark Allen’s little-used CafePress site (£18 limit please); and a copy of “Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing” by Mignon Fogarty. Grammar Girl also plans to read the winning haiku on her podcast.

“Most years I have several tries, and I can never tell in advance which will go down well and which will sink without trace (like tweets generally),” Freeman said in an email. “I think the B-list is my natural environment. TBH, I’m slightly disappointed that now I don’t have a chance to use my ‘definitely not a sore loser’ haiku:

Haiku fail again!
With whom do you have to sleep
To win this damn thing?

“Not that I’m alleging anything.”

This year’s judges, who are above reproach, were:

• Laura Poole (@lepoole), scholarly copy editor, co-owner and director of training for Copyediting, author of “Juggling on a High Wire: The Art of Work-Life Balance When You’re Self-Employed.

• Carol Saller (@SubvCopyEd), editor of the Chicago Manual of Style’s online Q&A and author of “The Subversive Copy Editor” and the young adult novel “Eddie’s War.”
• Karen Yin (@apvschicago, @consciousstyles), writer and editor since 1992, creator of AP vs. Chicago and Conscious Style Guide, style columnist at Copyediting, speaker on mindful language, award-winning fiction writer and 2016 Lambda Literary Foundation fellow.

For second-place this year, judges chose this fun consideration of Latin from Monica Sharman (@monicasharman), an editor and author in Colorado:

“Edit” in Latin
means “He eats” or “She eats”—
We devour your words

— Monica Sharman (@monicasharman)

And third-place went to James Harbeck (@sesquiotic) of Toronto, an editor, writer, and “word taster,” who is pursuing a master’s degree in linguistic:

Sentence fragments? Sure!
And the more the merrier!
Well, judiciously.

— James Harbeck (@sesquiotic)

The fourth- and fifth-place haiku were from familiar faces. Fourth-place was won by Larry Kunz (@larry_kunz), who won the 2012 haiku contest.

She said, I love you.
Her beau replied, I loved you.
Then the time passed, tense.

— Larry Kunz (@larry_kunz) 

And fifth-place, not surprisingly, went to Tom Freeman again.

“Shun adverbs!” they said
“Avoid these weak words!” they said
They didn’t say how

— Tom Freeman (@SnoozeInBrief)

Honorable mentions this year were:


Poor semi colon
Once elegant, now mostly
Just a winking face


“The toilet seat was
left up by you.” Her voice was


Semicolon, my
dear friend. Some abuse you; did
I just misuse you?


The wordsmith knows to,
When flow and rhythm dictate,
Split infinitives.


“Malignant cancers”—
have we a pleonasm
of neoplasms?


The complete list of entries for the 2016 ACES National Grammar Day Tweeted Haiku Contest is at on Storify at ACES National Grammar Day Tweeted Haiku.

Recent Posts

An editor should be a translator’s best friend

From the ACES president

#GivingTuesday: Thank You!