Leap in to haiku before National Grammar Day

If March 4 is National Grammar Day, this must be National — nay, International Grammar Week. A highlight of the annual celebration of the English language is the ACES National Grammar Day Tweeted Haiku Contest.

The contest is now open. Tweet an original grammar-related haiku and include the #GrammarDay hashtag. We’ll Storify the entries and announce the winning haiku on Friday, National Grammar Day.

HAIKUHaiku is a contracted form of a Japanese word meaning light verse. The ACES National Grammar Day Tweeted Haiku Contest is celebrating its sixth year of subjecting the grammar rules that vex us to a bit of light verse — an annual rite that has produced many gems.

Sometimes, the haiku tell us what is on the cutting edge of the word trade: There hasn’t been a year that someone hasn’t written about the singular they. Participating poets often challenge our ideas on grammar rules. That’s part of the fun of grammar: It adapts. Sometimes, as with poetry, we bend the rules.

Our winners have tackled homophones, dangling modifiers, our inherent inability to self-edit, meme-inspired grammatical construction, and comma splices.

The entries might not all have been what a purist would call haiku, just as grammar is not always precisely what we expect it to be. Grammar Day judges usually reflect that “light verse” idea.

In case you need a refresher, a haiku rendered in English traditionally has three lines and 17 syllables in the form five, seven and five. The cadence, and perhaps the shape, of a haiku is considered more important than the syllable count. And Grammar Day judges don’t worry about the traditional emphasis on nature — the topic here is grammar, in the most general sense of the word.

Last year’s winning haiku was by copy editor Adrianna Cloud, who riffed on a Shakespeare sonnet to offer:

Let us not

to the marriage of two clauses

admit a comma splice.


This year’s judges are:

Adriana Cloud (@adicloud), winner of the 2015 haiku contest, freelance editor, poet; her chapbook “Instructions for Building a Wind Chime” will be published this spring by the Poetry Society of America.

Corrie Loeffler (@ScrippsBee), program manager for the Scripps National Spelling Bee and three-time national bee participant.

Laura Poole (@lepoole), scholarly copyeditor, 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

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 choice of exciting products from organizer Mark Allen’s little-used CafePress site ($25 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.

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.

2 Responses to “Leap in to haiku before National Grammar Day”

  1. Mark Allen

    Judge Laura Poole pointed out that this story does not give the deadline. But all things must come to an end, and we stop accepting haiku at noon Thursday. We’ll need about 20 hours to carefully sort through the entries in a secret location in rural Berlin.