Friday, October 19, 2012

A young woman from South Carolina

Photo courtesy of Cieleke at stock.xchng.

Asimov? Dirty limericks? BRB…Okay, book in hand (gotta love the internet!), let’s go!
There was a young woman named Susan
Who found it completely amusin’
To make love to three men
Although who did what when
Was frequently rather confusin’.
Brilliant.

Asimov published Lecherous Limericks in 1975 at age 55. Over the next decade, he created five additional collections (see the complete list at the end of this post), three in a “limerick duel” with poet John Ciardi. 

I thoroughly enjoyed Lecherous Limericks - they’re funny and clever and, well, charmingly dirty! For each limerick, Asimov also included a page of commentary:  where they were composed, the inspiration, the reactions when he recited them aloud. A  fabulous insight into the mind of one of the most unique individuals of the twentieth century. We find out about trips he took, people he spoke to, his wife’s opinions, club memberships, even his thoughts on women’s rights in the 1970s*. 

Utterly captivating. 

Asimov took the art and philosophy and mechanics of limerick-writing very seriously. If you care to give it a go, here are his suggestions:

1. Use proper metrical form, with close attention to rhythm and rhyming. 

2. Focus on content. In particular, a good limerick should, according to Asimov:

  • Tell a complete story
  • Be humorous; ideally, in a vulgar way. Says Asimov, 
“Clean limericks…lack flavor, like vanilla ice cream or pound cake. They are perfectly edible, but, to my taste, are tame, flat, and unsatisfying.”
  • Have clever or unexpected rhymes 
  • Include, generally (although not required), a proper noun (name or location) at the end of the first line

 3.Think about recitation - where to pause, where to speed up, etc.

Here’s another one - this was one of Asimov’s all-time favorites, although Nik doesn’t care for the rhyming (or lack thereof, he says):
A young woman from South Carolina
Placed fiddle strings ‘cross her vagina.
With the proper-sized cocks
What was sex became Bach’s
Toccata and Fugue in D Minor.

Although the Asimov limerick books are largely out of print, you can find them on eBay, Amazon, and various used books sites. Here’s a complete list with ISBNs and links to Amazon:

Lecherous Limericks – ISBN 978-0449028414

More Lecherous Limericks – ISBN 978-0802705150

Still More Lecherous Limericks – ISBN 978-0802771063

Limericks (Asimov and Ciardi) – ISBN 978-0517208823

Limericks: Too Gross (Asimov and Ciardi) – ISBN 978-0393045307

A Grossery of Limericks (Asimov and Ciardi) – ISBN 978-0393331127


*Wrote Asimov, “I think that the women’s liberation movement is going to make lots of demands on masculine stamina. It’s going to be put up or shut up, I’m afraid.” 

Right on, brother!




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