November 8, 2022

NOV 8, a brief saga: Leigh Mercer's palindrome workshop



"A man + a plan, a canal

Panacea: A palindrome, pal?"

My friend Leigh seemed contrite —

"No! The ending's not right.

Zeus sees Suez — that seems less lame, Mal."

"A man, a plan, IF final, Pan-

works, (like Name male pipe, lame man!)"

My friend Leigh looked uptight,

"No! It lacks enough bite.

It's ambiv'lent, like Nab, rob or ban."

"Amen + a pit, Ipanema"

(Voiced in Portuguese, with no disclaimer).

Leigh: "No! Tip-top pot pit

Is a much better fit,

But Amen! Icy cinema's lamer."

"A mar on a pan — a panorama:

Has poor scansion, but not such bad grammar".

Leigh groaned, "Dammit, I'm mad;

Stuff those phrases so bad;

No sir, prison — that warrants the slammer."
Dr G.H. and Giorgio Coniglio, 2019

Authors' Note: 
Ipanema: (pronounced ee-pah-NAY-muh in Portuguese): trendy neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro, known for its marvellous beach and for its bossa nova music
Leigh Mercer (1893–1977) was credited with the iconic palindrome, A man, a plan, a canal — Panama. Mercer, an isolated British eccentric who worked at low-level jobs with frequent turnover, occasionally communicated with journals and contest organizers about wordplay and mathematical puzzles. After his death, notebooks filled with unique palindromes were discovered.
This early workshop conducted by Mercer, during which the iconic canal palindrome is almost invented, is fictitious, but with the exception of the first, all the italicized phrases in the 'workshop' session are legitimate palindromes.

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