Mark Saltveit, a damn funny local comic who performs regularly at Helium, is also a palindromist. Which, he insists, is not only an actual word but also the title of his website and zine for palindrome enthusiasts. (For those playing at home who don’t know what a palindrome is, it’s a word or phrase that’s spelled the same forward and backward. Just watch the clip above.)
“The correct term,” Saltveit said, “is palindromy (pronounced like polygamy, so puh-LIN-drummist, not palin-DROME-ist).”
On March 16, the first-ever World Palindrome Championship was held in Brooklyn, NY. Seven contestants competed in front of about 600 audience-members-slash-word-nerds, and the thing was so legitimate that it was hosted by Will Shortz, the New York Times’ crossword puzzle editor.
Each contestant had 75 minutes to come up with up to three original palindromes, within three different constraints. Saltveit’s winning palindrome was: Devil Kay fixes trapeze part; sex if yak lived.
I asked Saltveit what’s next, now that he is the world champion.
“More palindromes, of course. (Recently, Babe Kate's pudenda had Ned upset. A kebab?) I have two books I'm finishing up; Write Your Own Palindromes! (based on a workshop I give to 4th and 5th graders), and a palindralmanac with an original palindrome for every day of the year, tied to an historical event on that day. For example, August 16th is Charles Bukowski's birthday. The palindrome is God damn! I—evil asserts—impugn a bastion of rabid id. I barf. O, no, it's a bang-up mistress, alive in Maddog.
And that’s all impressive and stuff, but we’re kind of partial to his Mercury palindrome:
Stan, get a Mercury! Tramp, martyr, u cremate gnats.