September 9, 2020
Merriam-Webster’s definition of a limerick is: a light or humorous verse form of five chiefly anapestic verses of which lines 1, 2, and 5 are of three feet and lines 3 and 4 are of two feet with a rhyme scheme of aabba. The origin of the limerick is unknown, but it has been suggested that the name derives from the chorus of an 18th-century Irish soldiers’ song, “Will You Come Up to Limerick?” To this were added impromptu verses crowded with improbable incident and subtle innuendo. Read more about this history of limerick poems on Britannica.com.
The “Limerick Laureate” of The Admiral at the Lake, Ms. Bindy, sat down with me for a Zoom interview to share her story and her love of writing limericks, the role they’ve played in bringing her joy throughout her life, and to do a reading of one of her “pomes” she wrote specifically about COVID-19. When I asked her how long she had been writing limerick “pomes” her response was quick and without hesitation – “All my life!“
Bindy shared with me that all her young life she wrote limericks, right up until the day she was married, became the mother to her husband’s three young children plus one they later had together, worked at running her antique shop for 35 years, modeled the jewelry her husband designed, and “just got too busy doing other things.” It wasn’t until she came to live at a Kendal community that her love and passion for limerick writing was rekindled.
She said she always wrote limericks and nonsense verse and doesn’t follow “the rules” when it comes to writing limerick poems, which is why she uses the term “pomes” instead of poems. The term poems seemed too formal. Bindy shared many experiences along her journey that kept her engaged and finding joy in this hobby, as well as her desire to share this joy with others.
Bindy spoke of meeting a gentleman after moving into The Admiral (he lived at another community) who also wrote limericks; how they would email each other every night with new limericks and that’s what got her back in to the groove of limerick writing. She shared how a retired librarian reached out to her as a result of a newspaper article written about her works, how they became good friends and partnered to bring limerick writing to children in Poland as part of a summer camp program to help them learn English.
The children all wrote limericks and her librarian friend took their limericks and combined them with the limericks Bindy had written for the children to learn with and created a book that she gave to Bindy as a gift. This partnership, summer camp program and book were the impetus for her website – bindysverses.com. You can see the entire book online, as well as many more of Bindy’s versus.
Bindy talked about the writer’s program she started at The Admiral called “Literary Lockers,” that prior to COVID-19 was very popular. About every month and a half, a theme would be chosen and residents would write between 50-60 words in prose or verse which would be mounted in a hall and shared for all to see. She looks forward to the day when the writers’ program can get up and running again. “The visual artists have their exhibitions,” she says. “We writers should have ours, don’t you think?”
In talking with Bindy, it was crystal clear how much pure joy writing limericks, sharing and talking about limericks, reading limerick books, and making others aware of limericks brings to her life. When reflecting on why she thinks limericks are such a source of joy for her, she recalled something one of her religious school teachers said – “You are happiest when you are your most creative.”
That comment surprised her coming from a religious school teacher but it rang true to her and that statement has stuck with her. She lights up and says she “feels really, really good when I like what I’ve done” and if you aren’t happy with what you’ve written you can always delete it and start over and strive to do better next time. “If it’s in you, you do it.“
Bindy shared with me the rhythm, the pattern, and the need for emphasis in the right places when reading limericks. Personally, neither the rhythm, pattern, nor proper emphasis came naturally to me as I read her limericks and pomes on her webpages. It wasn’t until I heard Bindy do a reading of one her pomes that it clicked. Bindy has agreed to share this reading with you today and I hope it makes you smile the same way it made me.
“If it’s in you, you do it.” Find what makes you happiest and brings you joy. Then, share it with others and spread that joy.
Bindy reads: How it all started (COVID-19)
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