Monday, August 15, 2005

Ted Berrigan Lives the Sonnet

I’ve been reading Ted Berrigan’s sonnets, which are informal deformations of the form (in Annie Finch terminology.) They’re also amazingly creative if sometimes stubbornly obscure. But there is blistering talent behind each line.

I’ve tried to find Berrigan on his own sonnets, and haven’t been too successful. Of course I haven’t done real research. But I did find this in All Poets Welcome (actually quoted in that book from Talking in Tranquility):
Well, The Sonnets as a book is to be heard rather than simply to be read off the page—should be being heard at the same time—for I am speaking all the lines, it is my voice and where it’s coming from is—is—I am literally standing up in fromt of an audience and reading the sonnet sequence…there was a performance element in it then.
Obviously Berrigan was more concerned with perFORMance rather than FORM, an interesting approach (and considering the 'sampling' in his sonnets, a complex one that requires historical performance as well). There’s that and the sonnet is not dead.

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