Periodically, I like to take readers behind the designs of some of our products. Meet Ogden Nash’s Porpoise Paperweight, our 3-D tribute to an American icon of humor. I’ve asked Mim Harrison, the editor of Levenger Press, to take you behind its design.
As so often happens in the design world, we were tootling down one road and found it led us to another.
In their introduction, our authors, Jan and Hallie Leighton, explained how they were adapting a verse form known as the clerihew to help explain the meaning of many of their rare words. Clerihews are whimsical rhymes that an Englishman named Edmund Clerihew Bentley (1875-1956) created. One of my favorite adaptations in Rare Words II is the rhyme that Jan and Hallie fashioned to describe perpending, which means to ponder:
the evil king to kingdom come,
but finally he killed the bum.
But clerihews weren’t our authors’ only inspiration. As Hallie wrote, “Many of our rhymes are written with a nod to the Nashian spirit.”
And we at Levenger found ourselves nodding as well and saying, “Yes! Ogden Nash. We love Ogden Nash.”
Abandon spell-check—Nash is back!
For the boomers among us, Ogden Nash (1902-1971) was the funny poet we recalled our parents laughing about when we were kids. So we started down our rediscovery road, helped enormously by the collection of poems that Nash’s daughters, Linell Nash Smith and Isabel Nash Eberstadt, compiled in The Best of Ogden Nash.
It made us appreciate all over again why it was that Ogden Nash so captivated. He had a singular gift for not only rhyming words but bending them to his playful wishes—turning oughtn’t into ortant to rhyme with important. Only a master of the English language could do what he did with such grace and grin-power.
A healthy mind in a healthy corpus.
He and his cousin, the playful dolphin,
Why they like swimming like I like golphin.
We hope it also gives you a reason to smile.
Sometimes by sheer serendipity the timing of a product is right. In these tough economic times, having Ogden Nash to lighten our mood can be a happy respite. Comments? I’d love to hear your thoughts about Nash’s poetry or a favorite line or two. Just click on the Comments link below. (If you’re reading this as an email, click here and you’ll connect to Comments).
Ogden Nash poem “The Porpoise” Copyright © 1941 by Ogden Nash.