A light-hearted competition for the most widely popular form of poem — LIMERICKS.

We are having this competition in celebration of the life of a dear friend, Katrina Ellis, who never lost her sense of humour even during the last months of her short life. Her mother, Annie, is proud to donate the prizes in memory of Katrina, and will be judging the competition.

All entry fees will be divided equally between Riding for the Disabled and wildfire words.

Cash prizes for the winners are £50, £25, and 3 of £10.

All prizewinners, shortlist, and longlist poets, along with audio of their work, will be included in an online anthology. Audios of each poet reading their work will be recorded at an online celebration event on 22 July.

(Any poet who doesn’t wish to read can ask for a wildfire words volunteer to read for them.)

Click here for rules and entry

Will your limerick be a saucy play on words?

Two playmates who met in Aberystwyth
United the lips that they kystwyth.
But soon they grew older
And very much bolder
So played with the things that they pystwyth

give a nod to science?

mosquitos declaim
A million mosquitos declaim
“Vile humans cause nothing but pain!”
They lay the blame for their sorrow
On Para-dichloro-

or be good for a groan?

A foolish young poet named Peter
Once tried to adjust his gas heater
Touched a leak with his flare
Burned off all his hair
And, as everyone who knows absolutely anything at all about poetry will tell you, he completely ruined the meter.

We’re looking for limericks that are deft, daft, cheeky, powerful, and that make us laugh out loud, think, cry, or groan. Hilarious, pseudo-science, raunchy, or tongue-twisters. In short, five lines of fun that demand to be shared with wildfire words readers.

Will you be original?

As always, we’re looking for originality, but that’s hard to gauge for limericks, which have been written in huge quantities for hundreds of years. However it’s easy to search for any limerick key word, or whole lines that have been copied. If you can find an interesting limerick, or part of it, on the Internet, then so can a judge to check for originality.

The poem on Aberystwyth, above, includes rhymes that have appeared in many versions, the earliest of which is by Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837-1909). Our version has a new androgynous story with inclusive implications, but exactly the same rhymes. So it as an update, not an original limerick.

One safe way to be original is to choose a word to end the first line that you can’t find used in a limerick before, then create two rhymes for it. After that the writing is relatively easy.

The judge for the competition is Annie Ellis, who will have backup on research for originality from Marilyn Timms.

Will you enter audio?

Limericks, possibly more than any other type of poetry, are mainly shared by speaking them rather than reading text on the page. At wildfire words we’re audio-friendly. You might say audio-loving. If you want to submit with an audio, we’ll listen as well as read. You have the option of submitting audio with your poems text by uploading it into the browse files box.

All entries presented to the judges are anonymous. Our entry system automatically sends only the actual poems to the judges. Details of author and payment details will be stored in a separate administration database, filed under the title of each limerick. The administration database is locked until after all judging is complete, when the names of successful poets are linked with their limerick titles.

Rules for Limerick competition

Opening date: 1 June Closing date: 30 June 2023

  • The contest is open to all poets, except those who act as volunteers for Wildfire Words/Frosted Fire.
  • All poems must be entirely the entrant’s own, unpublished work.
  • International entrants are welcome, but entries must be in English. Translations are not allowed, unless the poet has translated their own poetry into English.
  • You may submit as many limericks as you like, in batches of up to 4 limericks. Each poem must have a title which is the last word of the limerick’s first line. An entry fee must be paid for each limerick..
  • Each limerick can be uploaded into the ‘browse files’ on the entry form as a Word file which is named with the limerick’s title. Also, if you do not have Word, you can copy and paste all of your limericks into the entry box at the bottom of the form.
  • Do not put any identification on the work. We will match your limerick’s title to your email address after the anonymous judging is complete.
  • Simultaneous submissions are accepted, but an entry must be withdrawn in the event of it winning a prize or publication elsewhere. Entry fees are not refundable once an entry has been received.
  • Work will not be returned, so please keep a copy.
  • We are unable to give feedback on individual entries or on the results of the competition — the judges’ decisions are final.
  • Results will be emailed in July to all who entered, and published on this website and social media.
  • The entry fee is £2 per limerick, or £6 for 4. Entry fees are not refundable once an entry has been received.
  • Entries must be paid for on the entry form, and your entry file uploaded, by the closing time of 11.59 pm on 30 June 2023.


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