Oulipost, Day 12 – The Sonnet

I have really been looking forward to this Oulipost.  I love sonnets, and there are over seventy of them, just waiting to be read, on the FPR Oulipost page!  I’ve not yet had a chance to read all the sonnets which are posted, but I’m going to recommend this one by Ouliposter Andrea Dickens.   Talk about grabbing the reader by the title!  And the sonnet rocks too.
Of course, we all immediately think Shakespeare when we think sonnet, and his Elizabethan sonnets are the standard, but they are not the only type.  You can explore the basic sonnet forms at               http://www.sonnets.org/basicforms.htm           Sonnets are still very much in use, in modern poetry, but they are often in disguise.  You probably won’t find the sing-songy, end-rhyming beasties that you had to read in high school.  Instead, poets will use more typical speech rhythms, they may make the line break mid-phrase (enjambment) instead of using an end stop, and subtle slant rhymes are more commonly employed than hard rhymes.  You don’t even have to do any of that, though.  In contemporary poetry, if you have 14 lines, you have a sonnet.  It would be nice if it had a turn of subject/mood/focus (a volta) in it somewhere that matched up with turn placement in a classic form, but this is not strictly required. Oulipo sonnets might consist of only one word per line, or of endlessly long lines.
I have really enjoyed the centos that we’ve done thus far, so my sonnet is also a cento, with parts lifted from anywhere in the paper my heart desired.  I made free with the lines, though, cutting words, stealing a verb or article from another place, or changing the ending or plurality of the word.  Knowing that tomorrow’s prompt is a wedding song, I elected to make today’s poem a parting song.   I meant it to be an anti-romantic poem, but there are many kinds of parting, so you will no doubt take from it what you want – as well you should. Enjoy!

Parting Song

Days after a heart is retracted
we only have the ability to do certain things.
We can go looking for answers in the blaze –
who is at fault, what the problems are,
the integrity used in two sets of images,
the skittish equation encompassing who we are –
the hardest battle when you’re working on
the fringe, they’re on view, at once stiff and florid.

Or, despite widespread public longing, we
can do things that are fun and whimsical: give
kisses to families handing out orange slices,
examine the regenerative capacity of the heart.
Unspeakably taboo, the unexpectedly beautiful
terrain of your life after a death.  Beginners welcome.

Bibliography: Boston Globe, April 12, 2014

Beite, Thea: Tuite, Lisa. From the archives

Durkin, Alanna. Maine health plan vetoed

Irons, Meghan. US Agency to probe deadly Back Bay fire

Johnson, Carolyn. Troubles in their field; cardiovascular researcher at Brigham faces more questions

McQuaid, Cate. Staying true to her “Selves”

Ross, Casey. A vision to put more waterfront on the map

Teitell, Beth. Texting Tragedy

Wallenberg, Christopher. Whistler will let its stage go dark


3 thoughts on “Oulipost, Day 12 – The Sonnet

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