Recently I boasted to Rob Mackenzie that I could write a sonnet in fifteen minutes. The notion afterwards appeared at some board whose provenance I don't recall, where people timed themselves on the task in public. My effort came in at somewhere around eleven minutes. But the one below, penned yesterday, took only five, likely because the form was the substance.
It's been said that form is an extension of substance. What then if a discussion of form is the substance? What if the form of the form determines the substance of the substance?
I think form should be second nature for any poet. Any poet who can't write a decent sonnet in half an hour should join a slam team. Ah, c'mon Craig Erick, you're a snob!
Damn straight, and we need more snobs in this poetry biz to filter out all the wannabes. Rhyme and meter are basic to the art; at the very least, an aspirant should be able to write decent blank verse. Sadly, many of my former students had difficulty with both. But I squeezed at least one sonnet out of every one of them, even if they whined and sweated blood, though there's one student out there, and you know who you are, who took a hiatus from the course but has yet to cough up a regular sonnet, likely why he's avoiding me.
Some prefer their sonnets regular.
Others like them straining against the bones
Of form. Like this. Or this. The amateur
Knows nothing but a pitter-pat of tones.
I like my sonnets rare, not medium.
I like to break the law. I like to tempt
My readers to a cliff. Tedium
Is all that ever comes from the attempt
Never to show your underwear in verse.
I moon you. I approve I do. I swoon
Melodramatically inside my hearse
Beneath the brittle, voyeuristic moon.
Do what you like—it’s only five beats.
Pound it like abalone or write like Keats.
Kenyon swam his heart out yesterday and has been up the stairs twice this morning without a splint. Kathleen and I plan to get the Sunday paper and drive down to a beautiful beach whose name I won't reveal. There Kenyon will frolic and the unluckiest fisherman in the world will lose tackle, bait, and lures to the greedy ocean with nary a fish to show for it. (I don't like to let fish get in the way of my fishing.)
At two kilobunnies.