Few things suggest “word geek” more than imagining a conversation between two fairly obscure punctuation marks. Doing so in the form of a limerick was more than enough to convince the judges to crown Claire Valgardson the winner of the 2022 ACES National Grammar Day Tweeted Poetry Contest.
Valgardson’s winning poem:
The en dash said to the em dash,
"As brackets, you're overly brash.
You don't get the ball rollin'
As well as a colon—"
"I have," it broke in, "more panache!”
Valgardson also won the 2019 contest with a limerick on the singular they. And a limerick in last year’s contest on changes to APA Style won her third place. She served as a judge in the 2020 contest.
“I'm thrilled to have won the contest again,” She said via email on National Grammar Day Eve. "There were some great entries, many of which were about dashes.”
Valgardson is a Toronto-based academic copy editor and proofreader specializing in APA Style, particularly in psychology, education, and the social sciences. She also edit nonfiction, business reports, web content, “and most other things that are written in English.”
In approaching her limerick, Valgardson said she originally wanted to explain the difference between an en dash and an em dash, but the meter and rhyme weren't coming together.
“The em dash is an artistic (and some would say superfluous) punctuation mark, while the en dash is very prosaic. I hoped to get that across while highlighting the one function of the em dash that it doesn't share with any other punctuation mark—that of interrupting dialogue!”
Along with the fame and glory of winning first place, Valgardson also gets a one-year membership to ACES: The Society for Editing and complimentary registration to ACES Online 2022. Her winning poem will be read on Mignon Fogarty’s Grammar Girl podcast, and she’ll receive a copy of Fogarty’s book, “Grammar Girl Presents the Ultimate Writing Guide for Students.” From contest organizer Mark Allen, she’ll receive a “Let’s Have a Word Chat” coffee mug.
In second place this year, medical editor Daniel Sosnoski (@mededitor) offered an octave in iambic tetrameter to compare our likelihood to mess up the Latin acronyms e.g. and i.e. with our likelihood to plug a USB cord in the wrong way.
When plugging in e.g., i.e.
With authors it is clear to see
There is some ambiguity
Grammatically, it's USB.
No matter how they hold the prong
Their first guess will always be wrong
These Latinates are such a pest:
Exempli gratia, id est.
In third place, was a playful take on nouning words by May Chong (@maysays):
A noun is the naming word—
This from elders I’ve heard.
But times are changing; with change’s timing
I do love some nouning on top of my rhyming.
All the winners plus honorable mentions can be found below.