exploring the sonnet form


I ‘ve enjoyed the pacing of Erica’s prompt. It’s been a change up from the frantic type of writing that sometimes comes from timed writing exercises. The poem I’m including here follows this process of writing and reflection. I looked back over some ten minute free writes for themes showing up in my writing and applied them to the sonnet form. Back in October/November I took a workshop at the Shakespeare center in Staunton where we explored the influence of Shakespeare’s sonnets on the Harlem Renaissance. We were asked to choose a sonnet to focus on. I opened my copy of Shakespeare’s poems and by chance ended up with sonnet 20. One of my classmates commented on my choice in her British accent, “Oh my, he’s landed on the gender-bender sonnet.” The sonnet I submitted to the zine partially follows the structure of that poem. The poem below takes up sonnet 1.

One idea with taking up the sonnet form is that its structure and lyric language challenge you to question commonly held assumptions and beliefs. It’s helping me discover a new perspective on a story I’ve been trying to write.


From alarms to books, to more alarms, books,

Are books the cause of this emergency,

Instead of going to your writer’s desk,

Dare you come back to this rack, envelop me;

But you, you’d rather take the moonlit clouds,

Than bare the joy of your very own flame,

Mistaking that light, to rout out your pride,

For what the sun will soon show, a wasted shame;

Be more like the proud snail whose trail glistens

All the brighter, for its shell is its ark,

A sunin’ slug makes warmth its home, yet listens,

That same hearth comes from snugglin decrep’t tree bark.

            End your journey, at last, I am your scope,

            Oh, to be the name writ in that envelope.