Every columnist is a bard at heart, so I'm happy to help pay tribute to the Bard who earned his capital "B": William Shakespeare.

If he hadn't worked so hard, Shakespeare would have been 419 years old on April 23. To commemorate that occasion, the Folger Shakespeare Library up on Capitol Hill is sponsoring a contest.

To enter, all you have to do is to write a sonnet, a soliloquy or a dramatic scene that imitates Shakespeare's style. A panel of three judges is standing by. Entries are due on April 15. They should be mailed to Carol Herman, The Folger Shakespeare Library, 201 East Capitol Street, Washington, D.C. 20003.

Carol reminds entrants to heed the words of Shakespeare's buffoonish boozer, Falstaff, who said, in Henry IV: "I will imitate the honorable Romans in brevity." Translation: keep your entries to 100 lines at most.

Almost forgot: Grand prize for Best Overall Parody is two tickets to a Folger performance, and two more to hear the Folger Consort, the theater's resident early music ensemble. Special gifts from the museum shop also will be awarded to the best sonnet, the best soliloquy and the best scene.

But the real ego-booster is this: The winning entry will be read aloud in the Folger's Great Hall on the 23rd. As Shakespeare might have said, that'll take the slings and arrows out of outrageous fortune every time.