3rd Annual SymmyS Awards

“Spidy Spit,” lazy cat palindromes win SymmyS Awards

Celebrity judges W. Kamau Bell, Ron Funches, Myq Kaplan and Will Shortz laud new reversals

PORTLAND, OR – 5/10/2015

A silly “Spider Poem” was the grand prize winner at the annual SymmyS Awards for Outstanding Palindrome Achievement in Portland, Oregon Sunday night. Peter Sabra’s winner combined two palindromes to form a children’s verse that rhymed and scanned:

Tipsy, dipsy spidy spit.
Till lips I lap, a lisp ill-lit.

Sabra, a relative newcomer who won a first and two seconds last year, also scored twice in the Short Palindromes category. He took second place with a crime mystery involving a land mollusk:

Did Mike kill Ian's snail like Kim did?

Sabra, who works at the Cary Memorial Library in Lexington, MA, also tied for third place among Short Palindromes with popular cartoonist Jon Agee, who placed third at the 2012 World Palindrome Championship. Agee’s medalist was shorter than its title:

A River Runs Through It (the giant spider), by Jon Agee

Beware, kayaker. A web!

Sabra’s winner was a riddle for children -- presumably very young children.

Sunday School Puzzle, by Peter Sabra

Dog I made.
Man I named.
Am I God?

All of this year’s winners are planning to compete in the second World Palindrome Championship, a live competition organized by Will Shortz that will be held in March, 2017. A documentary film crew led by Vince Clemente and Adam Cornelius will be producing a feature length film about that battle and the preparations of the competitors. The duo recently released a short version titled “A Man, A Plan, A Palindrome,” and completed a successful Kickstarter campaign to raise funds.

It was another dominant night for Australian computer programmer Martin Clear, who won 3 of the 5 categories --Short, Long and Word-Unit palindromes -- along with two 2nd place finishes and a 3rd. In the first 3 years of the SymmyS Awards, Clear has had 6 first place wins and fully 27 of the 127 nominations, over 22% of the total in all categories combined. His short winner was a warning to drunken cooks:

Set in gin, a potato pan ignites.

Clear, who is also writing a science fiction novel, won the Long Palindrome category with “A Cozy Meal”:

'Til a virtuoso cat snores in a warm lap and a lasagna fed it,
I defang a salad: napalm, raw anise, Ron's tacos outrival it.

Clear’s Word-Unit winner was not very uplifting, but may fit the mood of a world beset by ISIS and ebola:

Gentlemen, despair not: is there no justice? ...
No, there is not. Despair, gentlemen!

Lori Wike, the Principal Bassoonist of the Utah Orchestra, took second and third place in the Long Palindromes category, and second in Word-Unit. In this Internet age, though, her 321-word epic “From the Diaries of Salvador Dali” couldn’t knock off Clear’s lazy cat. Wike’s third place Long Palindrome was shorter and more focused:

Santa seeks the Lord of the Rings

Cross a pyre? Cross sad abyss? Ask, sir! Beg Rudolph! Plod? Urge brisk, sassy, badass sorcery: pass Orc!

Wike took third place in the poetry category as well, with a palindrome that is also a limerick. Readers under 40 should know that Pan-Am was once the name of a major airline, and that Pacer was a car as well as a member of Indiana’s professional basketball team.

Palimerick #4, by Lori Wike

Maria, I kayak on Spam
Pacer, am I on Pan-Am?
Gin enigma nap?
No, I'm a recap!
Maps? No, Kay, a Kia I ram!

Other notable works included an elegant short poem titled “An End to Flight” by Britain’s Steven Fraser, last year’s Long Palindrome winner:

Sexy lacy moths arc, crash to my calyxes.

Previous winner Anne Tenna offered a sultry short titled “Harem Queen”:

Hot Sultan, I win! I win at lust. Oh!

And then there was this:

Cat Detective at the Crime Scene, by Jon Agee

Woe. Medic! I'm O'Hara, homicide. Meow.

The Symmys are produced by The Palindromist Magazine, the world’s leading palindrome periodical.

Hundreds of entries were assembled from direct submissions to the magazine as well as a worldwide search for new talent. Competitors hailed from Australia, the United Kingdom and the U.S.

“The SymmyS awards showcase the great new palindromes being written every year,” explained Palindromist Editor Mark Saltveit, who was recently featured on NPR’s “All Things Considered.” “Many people think all the good palindromes were written years ago. These great new works show how wrong that is.”

This year’s panel of judges featured several of the nation’s most popular comedians, including Ron Funches (star of NBC’s hit sitcom “Undateable”, and currently in the movie "Get Hard" with Kevin Hart and Will Ferrell), W. Kamau Bell (host of the late great “Totally Biased” on FX), trained linguist Myq Kaplan (Letterman, Conan, Tonight Show, Last Comic Standing and his Comedy Central special), and Zach Sherwin aka MC Mr. Napkins, best known for the smash hit “Epic Rap Battles of History” on YouTube. Other judges include rising literary star Margaret Malone, whose debut collection “People Like You” comes out this fall, puzzle master Will Shortz, journalists Jack Rosenthal and Ben Zimmer, and palindromists Tim Imit and Jeff Grant.

The Palindromist is the world’s greatest palindrome magazine, since 1996. Issues are $5 in North America, $10 elsewhere.

----------------WARNING: ADULT MATERIAL FOLLOWS----------------
Statistics professor John Connett, who placed second at the 2012 World Palindrome Championships, ruled the Nasty Palindromes category with both first and second place entries, and an honorable mention:

Clearly Not the Promised Land, by John Connett

Stare, Moses, in a fog - a bare dick, limp - it is ass I kiss as I tip milk, cider, a bag of anise, some rats.

Connett’s winner was more to the point:

Tino: "’Tis not limp, Milton. Sit on it."

Connett continued the theme with his second place entry, “Good News”:

O, give it a pull –
It's stiff!
It's stiff!
It's still up!
A tie, Vigo.

Don Cagey took third place in the Nasty Category with his “Practical Threesome”:

Mr. Alan ate Stan's ass as Nat set an alarm.
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