Welcome back for the ninth day of Na/GloPoWriMo, fellow poets!
Our daily participant is To Create . . . where Day Eight’s “twenty projects” prompt resulted in a breathtakingly claustrophobic family memory. But I also want to give a shout-out to all of you who stuck with the prompt! I know that it was a lot.
Today’s poetry resource is UbuWeb, a vast repository of the avant-garde. You could get lost for days among the films, audio recordings, PDFs of small press publications, and other oddities here. If you’re looking to have the top of your head screwed off (figuratively), check out the “365 Days Project.”
Finally, here’s our prompt for the day (as always, optional). We’re calling today Sonnet Sunday, as we’re challenging you to write in what is probably the most robust poetic form in English. A traditional sonnet is 14 lines long, with each line having ten syllables that are in iambic pentameter (where an unstressed syllable is followed by a stressed syllable). While love is a very common theme in sonnets, they’re also known for having a kind of argumentative logic, in which a problem is posed in the first eight lines or so, discussed or argued about in the next four, and then resolved in the last two lines. A very traditional sonnet will rhyme, though there are a variety of different rhyme schemes.
Today, sonnets are probably most commonly associated with Shakespeare (who wrote more than 150, and felt very little compunction about messing around with the form, at least to the extent of regularly saying “who cares” to strict iambs). But poets’ attention to the form hasn’t waned in the 400 years or so since the Bard walked the fields around Stratford-upon-Avon and tramped the stage-boards of Merrie Old England. Take a look at this little selection of contemporary sonnets by Dennis Johnson, Alice Notley, Robert Hass, and Jill Alexander Essbaum. You’ll notice that while all of these poems play in some way on the theme of love, they are tonally extremely different – as is the kind or quality of love that they discuss. Some rhyme, some don’t. They mostly stick to around 14 lines but They’re also not at all shy about incorporating contemporary references (the Rolling Stones, telephones, etc).
Today, we’d like to challenge you to write your own sonnet. Incorporate tradition as much or as little as you like – while keeping in general to the theme of “love.”