Paul Ingram


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Legendary and recently retired Iowa City bookseller Paul Ingram opens this On the Fly interview with a few of his clarihews—comic (often cheeky) verses about famous people made up of two rhyming couplets with lines of unequal length. Ingram’s poems have been collected as The Lost Clarihews of Paul Ingram. He compares the writing of the clarihews to “making wise cracks” and reveals that he comes from a family of rhymers.

Ingram discusses his discovery of a community of clerihew writers on social media (gently suggesting that fellow poets contact him more than he might like). He also discusses how he selected books for Prairie Lights over the years.

Asked “Who is a writer?” Ingram replies, “I believe frequently it’s just who wants to call themselves a writer badly enough, they get to do it.”