We love humorous poetry, and what better way to celebrate it than on National Clerihew Day on July 10, the birth anniversary of Edmund Clerihew Bentley, the creator of this poetic form. The main conventions of a clerihew are that it is only four lines and has an AABB rhyme scheme. It mainly talks about a single subject, such as a person or a non-human being, and focuses on a key fact about the subject. It is always humorous, which makes it amusing for its readers.
History of National Clerihew Day
National Clerihew Day is celebrated to commemorate the birth and accomplishments of Edmund Clerihew Bentley, who is known to have invented this poetic form and made it famous through his collections of poetry. E.C. Bentley was primarily known for his novels, but it is his poetry that made him a historical figure in the world of literature.
Bentley was born in London and began his career as a journalist, moving on to poetry some years later. His first book was titled “Biography for Beginners” and introduced readers to the form of verse that became known as the clerihew. Interestingly, he was only 16 years old when he came up with the clerihew. He went on to publish two more collections of poems to solidify his position as the ultimate humorous poet of his time.
Even after his death, in 1956, his poems continued to be published, both in print form and as audio recordings. The clerihew became hugely popular in America in the 20th century as leading poets of the time tried their hand at writing similarly humorous poetry.
Today, the clerihew is celebrated across the country as a specific poetic form with its own conventions, namely four lines of verse, an AABB rhyme scheme, the name of the subject in the first line, and humorous content. Amateur poets, as well as seasoned ones, enjoy writing funny clerihews on this day as well as reading poems written by other poets.
National Clerihew Day timeline
The originator of the clerihew, Edmund Clerihew Bentley, is born in London.
Clerihew’s book “Biography for Beginners” is published.
Ogden Nash becomes a popular clerihew poet.
Clerihew dies at 80 years of age.
National Clerihew Day FAQs
What does Clerihew mean?
Clerihew is a light verse quatrain in lines usually of varying length. It has an AABB rhyme scheme. The endings of the first two lines rhyme with each other, as do the endings of the third and fourth lines.
What is the meaning of quatrain?
A quatrain is any poem or stanza with four lines.
How do you write tanka?
Tanka poems follow a set of rules. They all have five lines and each line follows a pattern: the first line has five syllables, the second line has seven syllables, the third line has five syllables, the fourth line has seven syllables, and the fifth line has seven syllables.
How to Celebrate National Clerihew Day
Attend a poetry reading
The tradition of poetry recitals is one of the oldest in human civilization. On National Clerihew Day, search for poetry recital events taking place in your area and try to attend at least one such event. Listening to poetry that is balanced and harmonious is a delightful experience.
Write some clerihews
If you really enjoy writing poems, then writing clerihews is a great way to start. These poems are short and require a single idea that you play around with. In no time, you can build up a collection of many clerihews that could be published as a book or uploaded online in the form of a blog.
Organize a contest
This can be a fun activity, especially with children since they are highly creative and write with great imagination. You can invite the children in your neighborhood over for a clerihew writing competition. Make sure to put many interesting objects around to inspire their creativity. You can even announce prizes for the funniest and wittiest poems. Parents can also be invited to cheer on their children and to socialize with each other.
5 Facts About Poems That Will Blow Your Mind
The world’s longest poem
The epic of “Mahabharata” is said to be the longest poem, with more than 1.8 million words.
The oldest written poem
The first known written poem was written more than 40 centuries ago.
The sonnet form
The sonnet was made popular by the famous playwright William Shakespeare.
Fear of poetry
Metrophobia is the fear of poetry.
Father of American poetry
Walt Whitman is regarded as the father of modern American poetry.
Why we love National Clerihew Day
It exercises our creativity
A lot of people love to write poems but feel intimidated by the works of classical poets. In comparison, writing a clerihew can be a fun and joyful activity. After all, you only have to write four lines and you do not have to write about anything deep. You can simply select any fact or historical account of any person and make a poem out of it.
It relaxes the brain
Writing poems is a wonderful activity to keep brain cells active and healthy. Research shows that the process of writing a poem helps people to feel mentally free and express themselves without any inhibition. This can be a great way of releasing pent-up feelings about a topic that you cannot talk about with anyone else.
It helps us reflect on life
While clerihews are meant to be funny and humorous, thinking about and writing a poem is a reflective process and gives us a moment to think about our life and our history. It is a good way to see things from a different perspective and analyze our problems more clearly and accurately.
National Clerihew Day dates