Holiday poem parody: UW prof gets New York Times notice for best health care ‘doggerel’
A University of Washington professor did the best job of rewriting “The Night Before Christmas” to fit the health care reform debate for an informal New York Times contest.
Steve Harrell, a professor of anthropology, won the contest — and nothing else, a reflection we can only suppose of the sad state of newspapers these days — put on by a Times’ blog on the health care debate, Prescriptions.
His parody began:
Twas the week before Christmas and all through the Hill
Not a solon dared say they would soon get a bill
Amendments were hung with meticulous care
In hopes that the 60 votes somehow were there
After being notified of his win, Harrell promptly penned — OK, entered on his keyboard — this witty explanation to the Times of taking the “2009 Health Care Doggerel” honors:
“I am not a poet by training or any other route but come from a long family tradition of doggerelists. I love Gilbert and Sullivan, whose songs I have frequently used for parodies of anthropology, academic pretense, and other easy targets. Maybe when I retire and have more time I can start doing this regularly on a bloggerel.”
Harrell’s biography on the UW web site says that he has taught there since 1974 and has focused on China and Taiwan. In recent years, he has taken a particular interest in environmental sustainability and educational exchanges, heading the university’s UW Worldwide Program. It offers an exchange program with Sichuan University in the city of Chengdu.
The Times has Harrell’s full parody and excerpts from a few other entries here.