Patty Limerick reflects on her firing with a few limericks


In the last three weeks, I have been reading statements that characterize a controversial public figure. Some of these statements have made me wonder if I will ever have the chance to meet this CU professor named “Patty Limerick,” who seems to be creating quite a stir.

Thanks to the steady commitment to free expression held by the editors of The Denver Post Perspective section, I now have a chance to tell you who I actually am.

I am an individual who can find hilarity and merriment in experiences that would break the spirit of a halfway-normal person. In truth, that capacity — to see the world around me as at once very serious and very funny — arose directly from my experience as a public intellectual.

Despite every effort to speak carefully and forestall misunderstanding, the public intellectual is sure to make someone mad. When that happens, there is only one course of action: you must contact the angry person and ask for help in figuring out what went wrong and how you will avoid missteps in the future. And then you invite the now-somewhat-less-enraged person to join you in laughing about how the two of you mistook each other for antagonists.

In truth, the compatibility of humor with serious reckonings is familiar to everyone who has ever attended a memorial service. Listening to stories about a person, who is at once beloved and departed, the mourners will laugh and cry. Humor and sorrow do not conceal their compatibility at a funeral.

And this recognition leads us straight to the limericks I have written as places for humor and sorrow to cohabit.


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