Colleen Sharkey was coaxed by “a friend and fellow goofball” back in her native Ohio to tweet a single haiku as an entry to the National Grammar Day Tweeted Haiku Contest, sponsored by ACES and Grammar Girl.
Her haiku charmed the panel of five judges, taking the top prize in the annual competition.
With a pregnant pause
I calculate periods
Here come contractions
Sharkey is international media relations manager for Central European University, a Hungarian-American liberal arts graduate school. She has been a fan of the Grammar Girl podcasts of Mignon Fogarty, and a friend sent her a link to the contest. Kyle Bush is an early-childhood school principal, and Sharkey said the two of them challenge each other with word play and puns.
“Kyle is a principal in Ohio but, more importantly, he’s a very clever punster and devotee of Weird Al Yankovic,” Sharkey said in an email. “He sent me the Grammar Girl link.”
Sharkey grew up outside Cincinnati, Ohio, and earned an English degree from the University of Cincinnati. She spent seven years as a science writer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. While she was in California, she studied mass communication at California State University, Northridge.
In 2009, Sharkey joined the European Space Agency in Munich as the public information officer for the Hubble Space Telescope. She has been at Central European University for five years.
She is on Twitter in her professional role, and she said she had planned to create a new account for personal writing-related pursuits. The contest prompted her to create an account with the handle @LillaryBlinton, or Lills for the name. That odd name, a photo of the Hollywood sign in Los Angeles, and a caricature of Sophia Loren as a profile photo confounded organizers, who announced the winner without knowing who she was.
“The contest was a great reason to start the new account. I chose the name Lillary Blinton after the 2016 U.S. presidential election. I wanted to pretend there was an alternate universe where Lillary Blinton was the president,” Sharkey said. “I chose the Hollywood sign banner as a nod to LA, where I lived for 10 years before moving to Europe. I just loved the caricature of Sophia Loren. It’s such a silly image of such a glamorous woman.”
Sharkey is not the first National Grammar Day Tweeted Haiku Contest entrant to create an account to enter the contest. The first winner, Gord Roberts, did the same in 2011.