Announcing Our #CMEpalooza Pursuit Winners

We had a record number of entries into our Sponsor event, #CMEpalooza Pursuit, this spring – who knew that people liked free money?

I’m also pleased that our audience learned so much about our 21st president, Chester Alan Arthur. Derek tells me that he is planning to grow muttonchops like Our Most Forgotten President just in time for Wednesday’s live broadcast of CMEpalooza Spring. I think it’ll be an improvement.

Anyway, we gathered a roomful of our trusty interns this morning to witness the highly anticipated drawing for the winners of our Sponsor event, each of whom wins a $100 Amazon gift card. Here are the champions, my friends:

  • Jayzona Alberto, EdD, MS, Education Development Specialist, Continuing Medical Education, Stanford Center for Continuing Education
  • Judith Orvos, ELS, President, Orvos Communications
  • Stephanie Staggs, MHA, CHCP, Program Coordinator,Graduate & Continuing Medical Education, College of Medicine, Texas A&M University
  • Allyson Baer, MA, Senior Program Administrator, Data Analysis and Reporting, CE, Education, Science, and Professional Development, American Society of Clinical Oncology
  • Katie O’Connell, Senior CME Event Coordinator, Continuing Medical Education, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

For anyone interested in the right answers for the full quiz, here they are.

Don’t Forget: CMEpalooza Pursuit Entries Due Friday

A quick reminder for those of you who like free money: Entries for CMEpalooza Pursuit, our annual Sponsor event, are due on Friday, April 12 at 11:59 p.m. ET. You can get all of the information you need to enter by reading last week’s announcement available here.

Here is what some of the early entrants have been saying about CMEpalooza Pursuit:

  • “What a great way to learn about some of the companies who develop CME programs. I wasn’t familiar with a few of these companies, and it was a fun way to learn about them.”
  • “A good excuse to stop doing real work for a few minutes. And American history? Wow.”
  • “I got some good ideas for our future programs just by looking through what other providers are doing.”
  • “You suck” (this was Derek’s entry, which was disqualified for many, many reasons)

CMEpalooza Pursuit: Money (for You) for Free

About 2 weeks ago, I got one of those pesky automated emails in my Inbox:

Your mailbox is at 99% capacity. Please delete unwanted messages to free up space for future emails.

So of course I stopped everything immediately to make sure I didn’t miss that email from the producers of Wheel of Fortune inviting me to be a contestant on that show (I’d dominate for reals, yo).

I went back a week, 2 weeks, 3 weeks, 1 month, to see what I could delete. And wouldn’t you know it, but it seems like at least 50% of the “unneeded” emails came from our adoring tolerating public asking rabidly, “When is the next iteration of CMEpalooza Pursuit coming?” I guess people really, really enjoy it. Or maybe they are just greedy. Whatever.

Anyway, we’re happy today to announce the launch of CMEpalooza Pursuit 2019, our annual Sponsor event.

Here is how CMEpalooza Pursuit works:

  1. Click here to download the list of questions
  2. Click here to download the entry form
  3. Use the Sponsor tab of the CMEpalooza website to get links to all of the companies involved in this event. You’ll need to visit the Sponsor sites to get the answers to all of our questions. We promise there is nothing that can’t be found within a click or two.
  4. Complete the entry form by coming up with a correct response to one question in each category. That’s six questions/answers in all. Now, we have had some brown nosers who have tried in the past to answer more than the required amount of questions, which is fine. It just won’t help you win.
  5. Send your completed entry form to me via email at scott@medcasewriter.com by 11:59 p.m. ET on Friday, April 12.
  6. Cross your fingers.

We’ll be giving away $500 in Amazon gift cards this Spring – there will be 5 winners of $100 each.

Here’s a little secret that may convince you to play – there aren’t thousands of people expected to complete CMEpalooza Pursuit. If you play, your chances are reasonably good of winning a prize. Better than my odds of one day calling out vowels and consonants to Pat and Vanna, for instance.

And…go.

 

Your (Ha Ha) #CMEstory

A few years ago, I tried to talk a few colleagues of mine into presenting a session at a live conference entitled something like “Humor in Medical Writing.” They laughed me off. (Insert rimshot).

“What exactly is funny about medical writing?” they asked. “Wouldn’t this session last like, I dunno, 20 seconds or so?”

Instead of grumbling and arguing, I let those crumbums burst my bubble and shelved the idea. Temporarily.

But dammit, there have been too many funny things happening to me lately professionally to simply let it go forever. And so today, we step aside from our usual veiled promotion for CMEpalooza Spring (it’s coming up in about a month for those of you who care, on Wednesday, April 17) so that we can all share a recent (ha ha) #CMEstory.

There were about 3 or 4 I had to choose from, but this is the one I settled on:

A few months ago, I flew down to Florida to oversee the filming of a series of enduring activities. For one of the broadcasts, our faculty – a pair of rheumatology nurse practitioners – were discussing a case involving a new patient that had recently come to one of their practices. Let’s listen in.

“Today’s case involves a 15-year-old male who presented with joint pain of approximately 1 year’s duration that has recently worsened. He is in good general health overall and had no unusual childhood illnesses to speak of.

During our initial exam, the patient noted about an hour of daily morning stiffness in the fingers, elbows, toes, knees, and back. He specifically emphasized decreasing strength and flexibility in his right wrist that prevented him from enjoying certain activities.”

The case went on for another 10 minutes or so as the faculty discussed the possible diagnosis, how they would approach treatment, and so on. When the discussion ended, I went up to them with just one general comment.

Me: “So you do realize which sorts of ‘certain activities’ this patient was talking about having trouble enjoying due to impaired grip strength in his right wrist, don’t you?”

Pause for a second. Here comes a quizzical look.

Two seconds. Trying to figure out what I’m talking about.

Three seconds. Light bulb goes on.

Four seconds. Blushing begins.

Five seconds. Uproarious laughter.

Them: “Oh my God, I hadn’t even thought of that. But you are absolutely right.”

Put that in your differential diagnosis file, people.

So that’s my recent simple (ha ha) #CMEstory. Add yours in the Comment section below. Everyone could use a laugh.

Participation is recommended but totally optional for everyone but Derek (it’s about time he supported one of my ideas).

As long as it’s not another of his hilarious, “You’ll never guess what happened in last week’s Grant Review Committee meeting” anecdotes. I swear if I have to hear one more story about the multi-hued sweater that Gary the medical director wore, I’ll… well, I won’t be happy.

Revisiting the Past with CMEpalooza Redux

Back when CMEpalooza started, Derek and I were both in a funny place professionally.

His most recent employer – a medical education company (MECC) whose name you can probably find on his LinkedIn page if you are really interested – had gone under, and he was trying to figure out the next step in his professional career. While the career of “Derek Warnick – CME Consultant” only lasted a short while before he realized he’d be better off with, you know, a job with a regular paycheck and health insurance and all, that stretch plays a very important role in the history of CMEpalooza.

Consultant Derek was, as usual, sitting alone in the corner during an “audience participation” session at the annual Alliance conference thinking deep thoughts.

“Why can’t I put together a conference like this (only better)?”

“Who can I convince to buy dinner for me tonight?”

“Did ALF ever make it back to Melmac?”

We’ll ignore the last two questions for the time being, and focus on the first one, which was obviously the seedling from which CMEpalooza grew. With lots of time on his hands (alas, the life of a newbie “consultant”), Derek was able to go home and think more about his idea of a CME “free-for-all” conference. He bounced the idea off a few colleagues who presumably responded, “Great idea” (or at least that’s what Derek tells me. I have my suspicions) and off he went.

Derek heard from someone that there was a person in the CME world (i.e., me) using this newfangled, and most importantly, free platform called Google Hangouts to live-stream certified education, and he thought, “Huh, maybe this is what I can use.” From there, the pieces fell into place. He came up with a catchy title for the conference, used WordPress to develop a website – this very website we still use today — and basically said to anyone who wanted to present at the inaugural CMEpalooza, “Go for it. I’ve got nothing better to do.”

What, you were expecting a story that involved a business plan, heavy-hitting investors, and accomplished advisers? Surely you know us better than that.

Anyway, while Derek was toiling away at the inaugural CMEpalooza, my employer – a different MECC – was also going under. In a few months, my self-employed career took launch and I too was left with a little too much time on my hands. I sat down with Derek one afternoon and agreed to come aboard as co-producer/co-director/co-something of CMEpalooza (actual transcript of the negotiation: “Me: Do you want help with CMEpalooza?” “Him: “OK.”).

The first order of business for us was to come up with an agenda for our first Fall meeting. Unlike the inaugural CMEpalooza where Derek allowed everyone with any semblance of an idea onto the agenda, it was deemed that we should tighten the reins a little bit for the future and come up with some topics people in the industry would be interested in. With our recent professional history, one of the first sessions we hit on was entitled, “Death of the MECC: Fact or Fiction?” Yes, it was somewhat of an autobiographical topic that hit close to home for both of us, but there was legitimate concern in some MECC circles that our days were numbered.

Jan Perez of CME Outfitters gratefully agreed to moderate this session and recruited a panel from a cross-section of providers to delve into the current and future state of the MECC. As with every CMEpalooza throughout our history, you can watch the session in our Archives (or just click here). To this day, it’s one of my favorite sessions in our history.

Five years later, the MECC model is facing a whole new set of challenges, although fortunately things overall seem to have stabilized since Derek and I had our career crisis (wait a minute, were we the reason our respective MECC employers failed? Let’s not dwell on that too much. Moving on…). As we celebrate the 5-year anniversary of CMEpalooza, we thought it’d be a good idea to revisit that session from our inaugural Fall meeting with a new spin. We’re calling it “The MECC Reborn: Our Present and Future.” It’s on the Spring agenda. There will likely be a “redux” session or two in the Fall as well.

Jan Perez graciously agreed to moderate this session once again (actual transcript from the email invite, “Me: Will you moderate this again? Her: Do I have to?” I kid, I kid). I think it’ll be fascinating to get a sense of where some of our industry leaders see the future of the MECC world heading.

Probably not to Melmac.

The CMEpalooza Spring Agenda (Phew!)

Big day for our team of crack interns. They have put in dozens of hours of unpaid overtime over the last few weeks categorizing and collating the many, many abstracts submitted for our Spring event, routing everything to the appropriate team of judges for evaluation, tabulating results, and then inputting everything into a very intricate spreadsheet.

I think I saw Derek pop his head into the interns work area one afternoon just after lunch last week and say, “Good job boys and girls. Extra credit for all of you,” before ducking back out into the game room for another marathon session of Frogger. He’s quite the motivator. (Side note from Derek: I will kick anyone’s butt in Frogger on the Atari 2600. Challenge extended.)

Anyway, we tapped the kegs, cued up a little Digital Underground, and let out a massive “Huzzah!” around 10 p.m. last night when we finally slotted the last session into the Spring agenda. The website was then quickly updated with all of the information so that our adoring (yes, you love us) public can stop with the phone calls, emails, and faxes telling us to, “Get off your lazy butts, and give us an agenda!”

So here is the official Agenda for CMEpalooza Spring (or click on the Spring 2019 tab). There is some good stuff from some new faces (and some old ones too) that we think you’ll enjoy.

Remember, Wednesday, April 17. Highlight it on your calendar.

A few things to note:

  • After experimenting with dividing CMEpalooza Spring into two half-days last year, we’re back to a full day this year. While people told us on surveys that they would be more likely to watch our sessions if they were split into two days, the actual viewership didn’t bear that out. Numbers don’t lie. Plus, it makes our lives a bit easier mushing everything together in one big lump.
  • There is a open slot at noon ET for the first time in a long while. Is it because Derek and I want a break to grab some lunch? While yes, that would be nice (my lunch usually consists of a scarfed down bowl of Corn Chex between sessions on our broadcast days), the truth is that we’re still looking for a Gold sponsor who wants to claim that session. Anyone? Anyone at at all?
  • Because this is a fifth anniversary of CMEpalooza, we will be having a “redux” session in both the Spring and Fall meetings where we revisit a topic from our first year of Palooza-ing. This spring, we’re bringing back Jan Perez from CME Outfitters to moderate a session looking at the business side of the medical education company (MECC) and how things continue to evolve. More on this in a later blog post.

Rejoice, everyone, rejoice. And join Derek in the game room at 3 p.m. today with a pocket full of quarters, ready for play Burger Time into the wee smalls of the evening.

 

Yes, You Too Can Be a CMEpalooza Sponsor

Like me, I am sure you get annoyed when you open your morning inbox and see another email reminding you that “The deadline for submitting an abstract for Meeting XYZ is next week. Don’t miss your opportunity to share your knowledge with colleagues and further your career!”

So no, this isn’t a post to remind you one last time that the deadline for submitting an abstract for CMEpalooza Spring is tomorrow (even though, well, yes, it is. Derek is counting on you).

Today, I’ll be telling you about something of potentially monumental importance both to you and the organization you represent — sponsorship opportunities for CMEpalooza! Whoo-hoo!

OK, OK, settle down now. That’s enough whoo-hooing for one day. You’ll hurt yourself if this goes on any longer.

Since we introduced sponsorship opportunities prior to CMEpalooza III (it’s Super Bowl week, so Roman numerals are acceptable), more than 40 companies have come aboard to support one or more of our events. Every year, we tweak the goodies offered to sponsors, especially at the higher levels. Our initial batch of sponsors for CMEpalooza XI (that’s this year’s Spring meeting) were put up last week, but there are still many opportunities available at every sponsorship level.

Here are some little known facts about a CMEpalooza sponsorship:

  1. You can have a session of your very own. That’s right, if you want to take the ultimate leap into a Gold sponsorship, you get the honor of working with Derek and I to plan your very own CMEpalooza session. Now I know what you are thinking – “In what world is working with Derek and you considered to be a ‘honor?'” OK, OK, maybe I’m exaggerating a bit, but at least it’ll be less painful than a mortgage/rent payment! I had a conversation with a colleague last week who works with a prior Gold sponsor. She told me, “We were going to do it again, but we didn’t have any good ideas for a session.” Hogwash, I tell you, hogwash! We have lots of ideas. They might not be good ideas, but they are ideas. We’ll figure something out.
  2. Derek will write you a haiku. You all know how much I love CMEpalooza haiku. I have written about it before. It’s one of Derek’s favorite blog posts. He cozies up on the sofa with a giant bag of Cheetos, gets that orange cheese dust all over his keyboard, and bangs out what the New York Times literature reviewer calls, “Eh, something.” For the first time this year, all Silver and Gold sponsors of CMEpalooza get your very own customized haiku written by the esteemed Mr. Warnick. He is extremely excited about this opportunity to further advance his pathetic — I mean, poetic — career.
  3. You will get tremendous exposure. Whenever sponsorship time rolls around, we always get the question of, “But, why sir, why?” Look, I can’t promise you that your company’s revenues will double if you decide to sponsor CMEpaloooza (though if they do, I will take full credit). But I can tell you that we have a lot of people read our blog (nearly 500 subscribers who get an email with every post as well as those who simply come to the website every hour), view our sessions (a record 644 unique visitors watched 1 or more sessions in CMEpalooza X last fall), and participate in our special sponsor events like CMEpalooza Bingo!! or CMEpalooza Pursuit!!. For some reason, people seem to like us, and by extension, they will like you if you sign up to be one of our sponsors.
  4. You will have money left over to buy many, many “4 for $4” deals at Wendy’s. While I haven’t actually been to a Wendy’s since, I don’t know, the 10th grade, I won’t argue that their food is expensive (whether or not it is actually good, well, you can be the judge). The point is, CMEpalooza sponsorships aren’t terribly expensive. They start at the low, low price of $600. You probably have that much in your couch cushions right now! OK, maybe you don’t (but if you do, seriously, lift up those cushions more than once a decade). Regardless, you get the point.

If I’ve done enough to convince you to climb aboard the Sponsorship train, well, bully for me. Just send me an email with some very basic info, and we’ll get the process started. If you remain on the fence and want more info, you can check out the full Sponsorship prospectus. If you are laughing uproariously at this post’s shameless plug, the Pit of Despair is just over yonder.

A Special CMEpalooza Offer

We’re big fans of free here at CMEpalooza headquarters. Just ask our trusty interns, who constantly ask about things like “back pay” and “overtime” and “bonuses.” Ha ha, keep dreaming people!

But anyway, we know that a slice of the CME/CE community is decamping to the Alliance meeting in National Harbor, MD, this week, so we figured we’d come up with something special for our friends and fans in attendance.

Find Derek (he’s the tall guy with the goofy grin and the faraway look in his eyes) and utter the simple phrase “Shake Milton” to get a free — yes, free! — registration to CMEpalooza Spring (offer limited to the first 500 participants).

Even better, this simple utterance will serve as an ice breaker to talk to Derek about any number of topics about which he is passionate. For instance: Cocoa Puffs, synchronized swimming, supply-side economics, the War of 1812, archipelagos, and postmodern architecture. He’s a fascinating guy.

What Makes a Good CMEpalooza Abstract?

We work in a strange industry.

Where else can you spend days/weeks slaving over an intricate document (ie, the dreaded grant proposal) with a total inability to talk to the party that will receive your work and get a sense of their general expectations? And then have absolutely no idea whether the “denied” request was “good, but not enough,” “just OK,” or “absolutely dreadful”?

Take the following scenario for example:

Little Derek W. (I have de-identified our “fictional” subject to protect his identity) is assigned a book report by his 4th grade teacher, Mrs. Mathewson. He is allowed to pick a book of his choosing and then must write about the topic of “I would/would not recommend this book to a friend because…”

Derek W. is an avid Nancy Drew fan, so chooses the classic, The Secret of the Old Clock. But Derek W. is confused. He goes up to Mrs. Mathewson to ask for her help.

“Is my ‘friend’ supposed to be a kid or an adult? And what if there are some reasons I would recommend the book, but other reasons why I wouldn’t? How long is this report supposed to be? Does it need to be handwritten or can I type out my response?”

Mrs. Mathewson completely stonewalls him. She ignores him as if he doesn’t exist (just like the girls on the playground). Derek W. asks his parents if they can help. “Sorry son. This whole book report thing is a mystery to us, too.”

So Derek W. does his best, trying to figure out what Mrs. Mathewson is looking for. A few weeks later, he gets a crumpled up note passed to him after class.

“You failed.”

Derek W. is apoplectic. Tears are streaming down his face. He goes up to Mrs. Mathewson, asks her, “Why did I fail? What was wrong with my book report?”

She said, “Sorry. I can’t tell you. It could be that we had too many reports on the same book, it could be that your report didn’t align to the criteria of our grading committee, it could be that we had already given out too many other passing grades.” That’s all I can really say.

Seems rather familiar to many of us, right?

Today though, you are in luck my friend, because I am about to unlock every secret to a successful abstract submission for CMEpalooza Spring. Perhaps you noticed last week’s Call for Abstracts where we provided basic information on how to submit an abstract for our upcoming Spring event (Wednesday, April 17) and you are noodling over an idea or two.

Well, just so you don’t waste too much time, I am going to tell you exactly what you need to do to guarantee* that your abstract gets accepted by our esteemed abstract review committee (* – not guaranteed):

DO – Read the guidelines carefully before you submit and follow all of the instructions
DON’T – Think to yourself, “Eh, they probably don’t mean this. I’m just going to submit for a boring, 60-minute, PowerPoint heavy presentation on a topic that is pretty dull and drab.”

DO – Recruit colleagues from a variety of professional settings. We love having a variety of viewpoints for our sessions. CMEpalooza veterans, CMEpalooza rookies – doesn’t matter.
DON’T – Only include your friend in the cube next to yours as a co-presenter. You certainly can only include people from your own organization, but there should be a reason for that beyond, “I am feeling lazy.”

DO – Submit a fresh idea that has never been presented before.
DON’T – Recycle a session that you have presented in the past at another venue. If you give it a fresh twist, great. But if you are simply submitting the same idea to us that you are presenting at another venue before CMEpalooza Spring, we can usually tell.

DO – Pay attention to the February 1 submission deadline
DON’T – Submit something on February 2. We don’t look kindly upon tardiness.

DO – Check your spelling and grammar before you submit your abstract.
DON’T – Submit an abstract written in a foreign language. Por favor.

DO – Take a chance. “I don’t know if this is going to work, but we’re willing to try” is good for CMEpalooza
DO – Think about the nuts and bolts of your session before you submit. “We think this is going to work and it’s going to be really cool” is even better
DO – Propose some sort of wacky format that is going to be fun for you, your co-presenters, and our audience. “We are super excited about this. It’s weird, but it’s going to be awesome” is even better still!

There, that should do it. A guaranteed* acceptance (* – not guaranteed).

Perhaps you have other questions for us. Great! We can answer every single one. If you are going to the Alliance next week, feel free to corner Derek and fire away. He loves talking to people for hours! (note from Derek: I do not.) Here are some topics he loves discussing to help you break the ice: fashion, tennis, Asian cuisine, dominoes, the Punic Wars, crocheting. And, of course, the Nancy Drew series.

Whoops, I just de-de-identified our “fictional” student, didn’t I? Oh well.

The Controversy of CMEpalooza Haiku

DISCLAIMER: It’s not always easy in this era of “right vs. left” animosity to laugh about anything. This is my attempt at satire. Hopefully it works.  

For every great event, there is a history. Sometimes, this history is written down for the record. Sometimes it is told in story, passed down from generation to generation. Sometimes, this history is buried deep and eventually wiped away, never to be discovered by the general public.

So yes, there is history to CMEpalooza, some of which Derek and I have hidden to both protect ourselves and to cover up some of our shameful past.

In light of recent political events, though, there is one moment that we feel we need to speak up about, and we’ll do that here, today, so that you can judge for yourselves.

It occurred early in the days of CMEpalooza, just as Derek was preparing to unleash his first batch of CMEpalooza Haikus on his adoring fans. You may now know CMEpalooza Haiku as one of our most revered (or pathetic, depending on your perspective) traditions, but like many traditions, CMEpalooza Haiku had a bumpy launch.

As he prepared the first batch of 5-7-5 verses, there were accusations levied against Derek from deep in his past, accusations that both surprised and flummoxed him. These accusations were serious, serious enough to bring into question his ability to share his poetic “skills” to the world of CMEpalooza. He was asked to testify before a group of CME/CE leaders to address these accusations.

Here is the transcript of his testimony, with no judgement or snarky asides added:

Ms. Chairman, members of the committee, thank you for allowing me to make my statement. I wrote it myself yesterday afternoon and evening. No one has seen a draft of it, except for my dentist, who won a poetry contest in 10th grade. This is my statement.

Less than two weeks ago, Mr. Richardson publicly accused me of writing a haiku with the improper number of syllables in the second line during our 10th grade English class. I denied the allegation immediately, categorically and unequivocally. All 14 of the other students in the class, including two of the accuser’s close friends, have said they recall no such haiku. One of these longtime friends said under penalty of perjury that he does not remember even reading one of my haikus.

The day after this allegation appeared, I told this committee that I wanted a hearing as soon as possible to clear my name. I demanded a hearing the very next day. Unfortunately, it took this committee 10 days to schedule this hearing. In those 10 days, as I predicted, my family and my reputation as a haiku savant have been totally and permanently destroyed by additional vicious and false allegations.

One accuser claimed that I argued as a college junior that “occasionally” was a 4-syllable word.

Another stepped forward to accuse me of reusing the same haiku to win a poetry contest in elementary school.

Finally, and perhaps most disappointingly, my wife’s 2nd cousin claimed that he overheard me on the phone begging someone to dictate a haiku for me that would smooth over one of the disagreements that occurred early in my marriage.

When these allegations first arose, I welcomed any kind of investigation by any member of the CME community. This committee now has conducted a thorough investigations, and I’ve cooperated fully. Listen to the people I know. Listen to the people who’ve known me my whole life. Listen to the people I’ve grown up with, and worked with, and played with, and coached with, and gone to 76ers games with, and had Shirley Temples with. And listen to the witnesses who were in my English class 29 years ago.

Since I first announced plans for a CMEpalooza Haiku blog post in July, there’s been a frenzy among poet laurates around the United States to come up with something, anything, to prevent CMEpalooza Haiku. Shortly after I announced plans for CMEpalooza Haiku, one individual said he would, “use every limerick, sonnet, and elegy she could write” to destroy CMEpalooza Haiku. Another individual claimed that CMEpalooza Haiku was “childish.” Childish. Think about that word. It means “like a child.” To insinuate that CMEpalooza Haiku could be written by a 7-year-old is well, OK, maybe it’s true, but it still hurts.

I understand the passions of the moment, but I would say to this committee, your words – whether they rhyme or not – have meaning. Tens of CME professionals listen carefully to you.

The behavior of the poetry and CME community has been an embarrassment. This first allegation was held in secret for weeks by a venerable poet until it was clear that CMEpalooza Haiku had overcome previous hurdles and would soon be a reality.

And then – as no doubt was expected, if not planned – came a long series of false allegations designed to put my ability to create three simple 5-7-5 lines of poetry on my own in question.

Crazy stuff. Alleged midnight library raids when I have been accused of destroying Shakespeare plays. Fights on boats in Rhode Island over the merits of Robert Frost. All nonsense, reported breathlessly by my sworn enemies.

This is a circus whose consequences will extend long past the life of CMEpalooza Haiku. The consequences will be with us for decades. This grotesque and coordinated character assassination will dissuade competent and good poets of all genders, colors, and creeds from writing witty haikus.

I’m here today to tell the truth. I’ve never written an illegitimate haiku in my life. Not in high school, not in college, not ever. One of my closest friends to this day writes limericks for his church group every week – he confided me in the 2000s when we were in our 30s that he had been accused as the originator of the “There once was a man from Nantucket” limerick. He sought my advice. I was one of the only people he consulted.

Allegations of poetic impropriety must always be taken seriously, always. Those who makes allegations always deserve to be heard. At the same time, the person who was the subject of the allegations also deserves to be heard.

As you know, I am a child of two of the least accomplished poets of their time. My mother spent hours every Sunday trying to find a word that rhymed with “leprechaun.” My father overcame numerous taunts as the only poet in southern Delaware who focused exclusively on the obscure sestina.

My parents’ trademark line was, “Use your poetic sense. What sounds right to you? What sounds wrong?”

This onslaught of last-minute allegations does not ring true. I am not questioning that Mr. Richardson may have read an ill-constructed haiku written by some person in some place at some time. But I have never written such a haiku. That’s not who I am. It is not who I was. I am innocent of this charge.

Mr. Richardson’s accusation stems from an English class assignment that he alleges was given to us during the spring of 1989, 29 years ago. I have submitted to this committee a list of every homework assignment I was given during that year. Why did I keep such a list? My dad started listing every task he completed during every day of his life in 1978. He did so, well, I don’t why he did so, but he did.

In ninth grade, I started keeping lists of my own. I’ve kept such lists for the last 29 years. When I was a kid, the lists are about what you’d expect – some goofy parts, some embarrassing parts.

But I did have the spring of 1989 documented pretty well. The assignment described by Mrs. Richardson presumably was given in April because I believe we were working exclusively on a term paper about the symbolism of The Scarlet Letter during the rest of the semester.

If it was in April of 1989, my lists show that I had no time to write a haiku on top of the burden of homework that I was required to complete. Let me emphasize this point – if the assignment described by Mr. Richardson happened in April of 1989, my list shows all but definitely that I did not complete it.

One feature of my life that has remained true to the present day is that I have always had a lot of close friends who were poets. This started in high school. Maybe because I have always been socially awkward and prefer to converse in rhyme.

But anyway, I remember writing haikus nearly every night and sharing them with Barry, Jessica, Tom, Mike, Lauren, or Natalie. The list goes on – friends for a lifetime, built on a foundation of 5-7-5. Several of these colleagues left their houses for the first time in many years to be here sitting behind me today.

These friends have rallied around me to help refute these ugly allegations. If these allegations prove to be enough to destroy the life’s work of an aspiring poet, we will have abandoned the basic principles of fairness and due process that define our community.

I will leave you with this thought as you judge these circumstances:

Let the haikus live

For CMEpalooza

Withers without them

CMEpalooza Haiku – coming Wednesday. Judge for yourself everyone.