In Competition No. 3230, you were invited to supply a double acrostic poem, the first and last letters of each line, read vertically, spelling out The Spectator and New Statesman in either order.
This fiendish technical challenge, designed to sweep away the cobwebs, drew an entry that was on the smallish side but varied and engaging for all that. Some took the topical route. Here’s Tracy Davidson, who turned her sights on the shenanigans at No. 10:
Taste turkey crown, then trousers down!
Have cheese and wine. It’s work, it’s fine…
Other submissions worthy of honourable mentions came from Basil Ransome-Davies, Hugh King, Bob Trewin, Steven Smith and Josephine Boyle. But the winners, in a keenly fought contest, earn their authors £20 each.
The Staggers had the hots for Joseph Stalin
His Georgian cyclone spun their weather vane
Enlightenment would blow worldwide from Moscow
So never mind him picking Trotsky’s brains
Protect the Empire was the Speccie’s ticket
Europe can go to hell — we’ll rule the sea
Chamberlain is steady at the wicket
Take up your arms but meanwhile bend the knee
Appeasement was the order of these pages
The Red Flag was their cure for Uncle Sam
Our decade’s choice is what to do with China
Reject their way or just not give a damn.
This world: it dulls my wastrel brain
Holding it down like novocaine —
Editors, stir us, make your stew,
Souse our heads with your verbal jus
Printing each week with great éclat
Earning our fanfare’s tan-ta-ra.
Comment at will on the local blight,
Thoughtful and never the least contrite,
And bring us weekly for our centimes
The disturbance of an imperfect dream —
Old mags, nag at me. Don’t be solemn — a
Riot for me, please, every column!
Time for festive folderols again —
Here’s a chance to sizzle as we freeze:
Engineering stanzas that will show
Superior Speccie comp abilities,
Penning lines with limits left and right.
Each contestant starts, his thoughts at sea;
Come halfway through, new inspiration’s sought…
The sound advice of Ray inspires me —
Acrostics double happily; a glass
Transports me when my muse is getting dim.
On such occasions, who on earth drinks tea?
Rioja will produce a winning hymn!
C. Paul Evans
The crazy year that we look back upon
Has seen new names and faces come (and gone).
Each had their moment in the sun to glow;
Some pleased, while some were more malapropos.
Perhaps Joe Biden didn’t show éclat,
Elected after all Trump’s brouhaha.
Could Boris weather omicron’s new threat?
Take Greta for a little tête-a-tête?
And as for Megxit — any more faux pas?
Tom Daley soared in diving to the bottom.
Oh yes — and England v. Italia
Raised Scottish spirits well into the autumn!
Now is my season of good intent;
Embrace new resolutions. (But don’t set bars too high.)
Write more, procrastinate less — just checking my mobile.
Save money. Phew, big night out with friends!
Tell people I’ll volunteer. (Don’t put my hand up.)
Avoid the toxic and unsustainable — I’ll have ten at that price.
Try new, healthy recipes — God, takeaway’s fantastic.
Exercise daily. (Not this week, I need rest.)
Spend less on booze — ooh, cocktails with tequila!
Mindfully meditate (if this gets any more boring, I’ll rot).
Address the housework — room hit by tornado.
No more time-wasting, ever. What’s new on Twitter?
There was a ‘comping’ chap, an Oxford Greats man;
He’d scan each week’s results with avid glee,
Exulting as his winnings grew and grew,
Sometimes a double or a triple win. Success
Proliferated… till the bubble burst.
Enraged, he shakes his fist at cruel fata,
Calls the judges names, the very worst.
‘Those turnip-heads! They’ve got it in for me!’
And, crying out in anger and distress
‘They’ve done me down — not even an HM!
O, why is my persona now non grata?’,
Rips into shreds Spectator and New Statesman.
This poem is twelve lines in length and when
Heard spoken has no end rhymes — it’s blank verse.
Each line is five DEE DUMs; within their flow
Short syllables, unstressed, give way to stress
Prolonged in length to make five metric feet.
Each foot, or iamb, shares phenomena
Conveyed from lyric text that brings delight
To minds ‘as blank as snow’ — the simile!
And metaphors, whose words are driven nails.
To these, alliteration’s ‘sneaky scam’
Oft tweaks and boosts poetic formula,
Revealed by bards, to cause creative spin.
No. 3233: mr and misses
You are invited to invent a new character for the Mr Men/Little Miss series by Roger Hargreaves and submit an extract of up to 150 words from his or her story. Please email entries to firstname.lastname@example.org by midday on 19 January.
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