4th Annual SymmyS Awards

“Dame Noon,” JFK palindromes win SymmyS Awards


Best-selling children's book author Jon Agee and Australian Martin Clear each won two of the seven categories outright and shared a third at the 4th annual SymmyS Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Palindromes, held in Portland Oregon Friday. New Zealand's Jeff Grant took the Grand Prize with his long palindrome titled "JFK Talking Tough."

(A buck cat, tall)
“I will act now.
I won’t call.
I will attack Cuba."

Agee, who took third place in WIll Shortz' World Palindrome Championship back in 2012, won the short category with the punchy "Tribute to a Fashion Icon":

"No one made killer apparel like Dame Noon."

He also penned the champion long palindrome, which was titled "The things you see in West Angola." (Each entry is given a title, which often provides a context for the wacky words.)

"Spacy Mr. Owen, in West Angola, saw old Nadia, my poor droopy maid, and low-as-a-log Nat, sew nine wormy caps."

Agee's "West Angola" and "Dame Noon" finished second and third, respectively, in the Grand Prize voting.

This year included two new categories, Medium Palindromes and Visual Palindromes. To no one's surprise, popular cartoonist Agee won the Visual category in a collaboration with Clear for a cartoon titled "Tim Must Summit."

Clear, a Sydney computer programmer who won six SymmyS in the first three years of the competition, also won an YmmY outright in two additional categories this year. (SymmyS is the plural of YmmY, the name for a single award. Both are, of course, palindromes.)

Clear's winning Word Unit Palindrome , where entire words are reversed rather than individual letters, is titled "Still Life":

Can it still be life if life be still? It can!

He also wrote the runner-up, a more elaborate effort titled "Gothic":

Wind the only clock. Alarm the silence that in brooding menace sets ... what?
What sets menace brooding in that silence? The alarm clock? Only the wind.

Clear's other YmmY was for best Palindromic Poetry. His six-line rhyming verse beat out several "palimericks."

We Freer Few, by Martin Clear

We few, we few, we freer few
We nag nine ponies, net nine too!
Zanier after cesspool - pooh!
A hoop loops secret fare in a zoo
Ten intense in opening anew
We freer few, we few, we few.

Biostatistics professor John Connett, the runner up at the World Palindrome Championship, won the new Medium Length category:

The Wrong Order, by John Connett
Barclay ordered no pie, sir. Arise! I pondered royal crab.

Live entertainment at the awards ceremoney was provided by comic Dax Jordan, live via satellite from the famed Hollywood Improv comedy club in Los Angeles, and by Michael "Shoehorn" Conley, who played saxophone while tap dancing. Conley also won the Ymmy in the Nasty category for "Urgency":

Now sore, too rigid, I harass Sarah - I dig, I root- Eros won.

Other notable new palindromes are listed below. Video and audio of the ceremony are available to qualified media outlets on request, via the documentary film crew described below.

Coming Up: World Palindrome Champioship II

Agee, Connett and Clear will compete against reigning titleholder Mark Saltveit and others in the second World Palindrome Championship, a live competition organized by Will Shortz that will be held on March 24th, 2017 in Stamford Connecticut. A documentary film crew led by Vince Clemente and Adam Cornelius are producing a feature length film about that battle and the preparations of the competitors. Last year the duo released a short version titled “A Man, A Plan, A Palindrome,” and completed a successful Kickstarter campaign to raise funds.

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. “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 Myq Kaplan (Letterman, Conan, Tonight Show, Last Comic Standing and his Comedy Central special), Suzy Soro (Seinfeld, Curb Your Enthusiasm), 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, author of the award-winning debut collection “People Like You," rapper MC Paul Barnam, puzzle master Will Shortz; journalists Jack Rosenthal (NYT), Ben Zimmer (WSJ), and Australia's David Astle (Sydney Morning Herald), and palindromists Tim Imit and Mike Maguire.


The Palindromist is the world’s greatest palindrome magazine, since 1996.
Issues are $5 in North America, $7 elsewhere.

Other Notable Palindromes from the 4th Annual SymmyS Awards

Palindromic Statue of Liberty poem (Martin Clear)
Meek, ill, lewd - we'll like 'em.

If You Meet the Buddha On the Road (part 2) (Anne Tenna)
I murdered Rumi.

Taking the Cure (John Connett)
"Mash Tums," I beep, "I pee bismuth, Sam."

Spicy Salsa (Martin Clear)
Do gym-hot asses salsa as lasses sat? Oh my god!

Someone I don't want in my chemisty lab (Martin Clear)
"Won't I burn acid?" I call, "It's still acid ... I can rub it now."

Finally, He Speaks (Peter Sabra)
"Lo-ord! I sit, ode, nip." (Otis is a dog. Sit, Otis!) "God, as I sit," opined Otis, "I drool!"

Medical care? (Jon Agee)
Dr. Gong! Get ale to my motel – at Egg-nog Rd!

Feel the Bern (Anne Tenna)
Flowery, pale Bernie "LaLa" Sanders is red, nasal. Ale in rebel? A pyre wolf!


The Worst 12 Days of Xmas (Lori Wike)

Sir, bed Parrot, Partridge, Leg-dirt Raptors, Droll Ladies rap, tacet: a design,


I sedate Cat, dare Piper ere Drummer, ah!
Our Hens tend no Maid, Bird rib,
Swan gnaws weak Dove so deep,


Panini, Geese, whoopee!
Dose vodka, ew! Swan gnaws Bird rib,
Diamond nets Nehru,
O Harem murder, ere Piper ad, tacet: a design,


I sedate Cat, parse id, all Lords rot, Partridge leg dirt,



What Dreams May Come? (Martin Clear)

He peels, all a-fret, sister ...
Animal I assay amid a most ego-tossed ire, he rams selfless I.

He, both sure yet - oh! - animal again ...
I, a gal, am in a hot-eye rush to be his selfless mare he rides.

So to get so mad, I may assail a minaret ...
Sister, fall asleep, eh?