The Practical Pyromaniac Clerihew Contest

Geek Culture People

Hey Geek Dads, Here’s maybe the best project of the summer. It’s called “The Practical Pyromaniac Clerihew Contest.”

To celebrate the publication of my new book The Practical Pyromaniac, the Chicago Review Press (the book’s publisher) , is sponsoring a contest to see who can write the most creative clerihew about fire, scientists, and similarly geeky subjects. For the budding poet, writer, or wise acre with a scientific bent, it’s a great opportunity for creativity!

Perhaps you’re wondering, just what in the world is a Clerihew and what does it have to do with the book?

Well, young Edmund Clerihew Bentley (pictured to the right) invented his eponymous, erratically metered, four line poems a century ago. Clerihews are more fun than limericks, and more useful than letter mnemonics for remembering things. The Practical Pyromaniac includes multiple clerihews, including this one about the famous English scientist, Sir Humphrey Davy:

Sir Humphrey Davy
Abominated gravy.
And lived in the odium
Of inventing sodium.

Clerihews are easy to compose and help you remember facts about people. For some reason, there have been quite a few written about famous scientists.

Sir James Dewar
Is smarter than you are.
None of you asses
Can liquefy gases.

Here’s one I made up.

Steven Hawking
Has trouble talking.
But in his mind,
The cosmos is defined.

The rules for clerihews are pretty simple:
1) It has four shortish lines of irregular length and meter.
2) The first two lines and the last two lines rhyme, at least sort of.
3) The first line contains, and in fact, may consist solely of, the subject’s name.

Entering The Contest:

Are there prizes? You bet!

One (1) first place winner will receive the Chicago Review Press DIY book pack (Absinthe & Flamethrowers, Backyard Ballistics, Miniweapons of Mass Destruction, and Unscrewed), a $25 gift certificate to ThinkGeek (, and a $25 gift certificate to the Maker Shed (

One (1) second and one (1) third place winner will receive the Chicago Review Press DIY book pack.

To enter, compose your clerihew and visit You’ll find an entry form and complete rules there.

Not too shabby, so get your pencils sharpened and get to writing.

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