Humorous Hemingway parodies: winners


Beginning in September, all KO junior English classes read a work of Hemingway and wrote a parody to enter into the Hemingway Parody Contest.  After diligently working on their entries for the contest, the results were announced at a Tuesday assembly. Alma Clark won the grand prize, Juliana Kulak took second, and Julia Kanaan, Matthew Marottolo, and Kush Kataria all tied as second-runners up.

The assignment, to write a couple pages of humorous writing that imitates Hemingway’s style, is harder than it sounds. English teachers Heather Wayne and Catherine Schieffelin, who were on the judging panel this year, both agreed that Hemingway can be difficult to imitate. “He’s a very dark writer so it’s kind of hard to make that funny,” Juliana agreed. Ms. Wayne said that Hemingway’s writing is great to parody because of its distinct style. “He has a lot of short declarative sentences,” she said. “Very minimalist so not a lot of in depth description, and pretty simple language.”

Alma’s parody, which followed the plot of “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber,” was set at a middle school band concert with a lethal tuba “accident.” To mimic Hemingway’s style, Alma varied sentence lengths. “[I] alternat[ed] a lot between short and long sentences,” she said. “I made a lot of sentences run-ons by just deleting all the periods and making it end.”

Along with with her mocking of Hemingway, Alma’s jokes and humor are what set her parody apart from the rest. “It just had like her quirky humor in it too.” Ms. Schieffelin said. “She called [Francis Macomber] Francis Wet-Cucumber which I thought was just hilarious.”

Juliana said she enjoyed the creativity of the assignment. “I really liked just coming up with my own take on a Hemingway story,” she said. “I really liked ‘A Clean Well-Lighted Place,’ which is the one I chose to parody, so I really enjoyed following it closely.” Julia, whose untitled parody about children on a playground included interviewing her little cousin, said she liked the process of getting information to write about.

Prior to writing their entries, each junior class read either a novel or short stories by Hemingway to get sense of his themes and style. “Hemingway has a very very distinctive style, so if you read a wide enough range of Hemingway you start to get a sense of his patterns and rhythms,” Ms. Wayne said. Ms. Schieffelin said that she likes that each class reads different works, since they get a larger variety of parodies.

Overall, the guidelines are pretty loose and there’s a lot of freedom with the assignment. “What we’re looking for is a good understanding of what makes Hemingway work, and then looking for clever ways that the students then play with that and make it funny,” said Ms. Schieffelin.