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Can You Write a Ruthless Rhyme?

Are you a budding writer or a keen poet? Would you like to see your work published on-line? We are running a competition to find the best short poem in the style of a Ruthless Rhyme, a humorous verse form invented by Harry Graham.

Ruthless Rhyme Competition

We are looking for a Ruthless Rhyme on the subject of New Year’s Resolutions. An example of a Ruthless Rhyme can be found below, and more are included in When Grandmama Fell Off The Boat, a preview of which can be seen here. A Ruthless Rhyme should follow these guidelines:

1.    It should be between four and eight lines long.

2.    Ruthless Rhymes always rhyme, but not necessarily with the same rhyming scheme. Examples can be seen of ABAB and AABB rhyming.

3.    The poem should consist of two elements: a gruesome action by one character followed by a nonchalant response from another.

4.    The secret to a successful Ruthless Rhyme is the ability to relate commonplace situations with a sardonic twist. The poem should be a combination of lightheartedness and callousness.

Sample Rhyme

L’Enfant Glacé

When Baby’s cries grew hard to bear
I popped him in the Frigidaire.
I never would have done so if
I’d known that he’d be frozen stiff.
My wife said: “George, I’m so unhappé!
Our darling’s now completely frappé!”


The winner of the competition will have their poem published in our soon-to-be-launched blog. A selection of poems by runners-up may also be published on-line. The winner will then be invited to write further Ruthless Rhymes on seasonal themes throughout 2012, for publication in our blog. If suitably qualified, the winner will be favourably considered for a six-month internship at Sheldrake Press, to start in 2012.


Entries must be received by Sunday 4th March 2012, sent to with your name, contact details and the subject heading Ruthless Rhyme Competition. The competition will be judged by our editorial staff, chaired by Simon Rigge, and the result will be announced at www.sheldrakepress.co.uk on Monday 19th March 2012. If you are a graduate or are graduating in 2012 and wish to be considered for the six-month internship prize, then please also attach your c. v. to your entry.

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