|by Sir Phillip Sidney|
William Carlos Williams didn't like them. He famously said, "Forcing twentieth-century America into a sonnet--gosh, how I hate sonnets--is like putting a crab into a square box. You've got to cut his legs off to make him fit. When you get through you don't have a crab anymore."
But sonnets, and poetry forms in general, do something to our thought process, no matter where or when we write. They ask us to slow down, mull over the words we choose, and find ways to say what we want that fit the recipe of the form.
Putting aside the first words that pop into our heads for new words—synonyms, parallels, other examples—that fit the form can even unveil surprising associations and directions and ideas that we might have otherwise discovered in the free flow of free verse.
To review, a sonnet has:
- 14 lines
- typically the same number of syllables in each line
- often, a meter, such as iambic pentameter
- a rhyme scheme
- a "turn," or change of perspective, occurring around the beginning of line 9
- often, a subject related to love
This week, you might discover new ways to tweak, subvert, adapt or supercharge the sonnet form. Consider the recipe and consider your creative impetus. Combine, mix, bake...
keywords: sonnet, poem, your name
some rhyme schemes:
- abab cdcd efef gg (Shakespearean)
- abab bcbc cdcd ee (Spencerian)
- abba abba cde cde (Petrarchan)
- take fourteen small pieces of paper and write the letters A through G, two times each, on these. Shuffle and deal your rhyme scheme. (Angele McQuade showed me this).
- aaba bbcb ccdc dd (I made this up just now)