Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Half Way to the Sonnets

So I’m half-way through the month with this foray into experimental sonnets. What have I gathered to this point? First, it’s my opinion now that one cannot write a single experimental sonnet. And reading something that Jack Spicer once said helped me to that conclusion. It was his opinion that he needed to write books of poems, that one poem would never suffice in and of itself. Hence The Collected Books of Jack Spicer (which I just grabbed off Ebay for a good price by the way). The formal sonnet on the other hand has centuries of tradition behind it. So when you’re writing one, you’re communicating with the ages. That alone is a benefit of that form.

(I appreciate tremendously Annie Finch’s thoughts on form, and her categories of formal and informal deformations, of which I lean more to the formal deformations and maybe just for that communication with the past.)

But there is a small tradition ironically enough for an experimental informal sonnet sequence, and that, to my dim knowledge, begins with Ted Berrigan. I’m still reading his sequence, so my thoughts on this are at best spotty and at worst ill-informed. Still I can appreciate his objectives and his abilities in trying to reach them. What he succeeded in writing, well, I’m not yet sure. But I do appreciate the amusement in his Sonnet XXX.
Sonnet August Fourteen

On the fifteenth day of August in the year of the blog,
dear Skye; I walked into August tonight—it’s wild!
I had planned to walk the beach at the Plum Island Refuge—
black helicopters kept strict surveillance.
I could talk to you about the early morning
I met a lovely couple who live in a houseboat—
heat bugs in August sound electric. This skylight
before the fireworks, the spark and crack—
a train was passing the space where I had been—
from the Rye shore.
P.S. You asked directions to the fair,
dear Skye; I think the gravity of August
in present America, there is—
fish are jumping!

~Son Rivers 2005

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