My most recent book, There Once Was a Limerick Anthology, was published by Dover Publications in August 2022, and my next book, Acrostic Poetry: The First-Ever Anthology, will be published by Dover in August 2023. There’s no better way to transition from one poetic form to another than by discussing a hybrid of the two: acrostic limericks!
Madeleine Begun Kane, aka Mad Kane, has written myriad limericks for Mad Kane’s Humor Blog, which she founded in 2006, and runs a monthly Limerick-Off contest. She has explored many different directions, including subjects not typically associated with limericks and limericks with multiple verses. Since making her first foray into acrostic limericks in 2011, she has published more than two dozen—and attempted many more.
Kane finds it much more challenging to write acrostic limericks than standard limericks:
Limericks already have several strict rules. And to impose an additional rule tends to interfere with my creative flow, making them much more difficult than standard limericks.
I’ve written so many standard limericks, that complying with limerick rhyme and meter rules is second nature—pretty much automatic. As a result, the act of writing structurally perfect limericks doesn’t interfere with my creative process. There’s no left brain/right brain battle. Clever wordplay and humor are much easier to achieve when the editor side of my brain isn’t interfering and is just quietly doing its job.
On the other hand, when I write an acrostic limerick, my vocabulary is automatically limited by the requirement that each line start with a specific letter. And I find it very hard to be creative when I keep thinking of the “perfect line” and then realize that I can’t use it because the first word starts with the wrong letter. I’ve ended up abandoning numerous acrostic limericks because they’re too stilted or just don’t work at all.
Of course, when an acrostic limerick does manage to be clever and/or funny despite the extra challenge of the form, it can be very satisfying.
A fan of “conciseness in poetry,” Kane enjoys writing and reading other short poetic forms, including haiku, senryu, and quatrains. However, she finds the acrostic form unique for its ability to combine with the limerick form without taking anything away from the limerick:
I consider myself a “strict limerick constructionist.” So I avoid doing anything that alters the purity of its form. Fortunately, despite the extra challenges posed by acrostic limericks, they don’t interfere with the form itself. . . . Combining a limerick with other forms would compromise its purity, so I avoid it.
Here are eight of Kane’s best acrostic limericks. Unlike the classics featured in There Once Was a Poetry Anthology, many of Kane’s limericks are occasional. Some of these selections were written for National Dog Day, National Limerick Day, and Chubby Checker’s birthday. The last limerick includes two verses.
Wedded To Acrostics (Acrostic Limerick) “Enlarging our guest list again? Let me see it,” said bride-to-be Gwen. “Oh no! What a slew! Pa, this simply won’t do! Eloping tomorrow, at ten.” Acrostic Limerick: Hot, Cross Lovers A flexible gal who is spry, Gymnastically gifted, and sly Initiates sex, Leaves her lovers as wrecks— Enticing, entrapping—oh my! Happy Limerick Day (Acrostic Limerick) Edward Lear should be honored—hooray! Lim’rick verses he fathered, some say. Entertained us with wit— A nonsensical hit. Remember his birthday—12 May. Taking Stock Of Acrostic Limericks Seems investments are dropping like flies, Trouncing prices and deals that looked wise. On Wall Street our shares Crash and fall down the stairs— Killed retirement plans on the rise. Operatic Acrostic Limerick Oh that tenor who’s playing the king Pierces eardrums while trying to sing. Easy notes he should reach Really readily screech, As we grab some bananas to fling. Acrostic Madness (Musical Acrostic) Oh the sound of this instrument’s glorious, But playing it’s rather laborious. Out a thin double reed Emerge notes that indeed Sound sweetly intense, or uproarious. Acrostic Limerick Ode To Chubby Checker There’s a dance with a hot checkered past. We grooved on its moves—whirling fast! I still do it today, Shifting weight, as I sway— Twirling waist motion, saucily cast. For National Dog Day, a 2-Verse Acrostic Limerick Canine friends are my subject today, And I love to watch dogs on display, Never letting you down. I can’t see why you’d frown Near a puppy that just wants to play. Ev’ry pooch needs a human to love. (People swear they’re a gift from above.) Always loyal and sweet— Lets you know: “Time to eat!” So line up to adopt and don’t shove.
All of the above poems were written by Madeleine Begun Kane, aka Mad Kane, and reprinted with her permission.