Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Brief Reactions to "High Wire Acts"

   [I thought I'd lost this post; it was written before the one just before this one; and I was sort of glad for its disappearance; but I'm happy too to see it still exists and have added a bit more] 

     For the most part, I find this roundtable dull/repeating the same old mid 20th to 21st century truisms about the sonnet.  I have a hard time taking seriously discussions of sonnets that don't involve rhyme whatsoever.  From 1350 to 1950, sonnets largely rhymed--so the form lived and, inevitably, changed, morphed, for those 600 years, but rhyme wasn't tossed.  For around sixty years it's been, in America, tossed.  The sonnet has died and been replaced by 14 lines.  Or a few more or less depending: Gerald Stern, etc.   Why, why, why won't poets just embrace that they write 14-line poems but that they're not sonnets!  Poets--shuck the residual glamour/cultural capital of centuries past!
     Sure, someone could do some extremely sophisticated alluding to sonnets without end-rhyme--I agree.  But I can't think of any poem/poet in the past thirty-plus years who has.  I guess this would constitute the topos of the almost dead but still being revitalized stage of the sonnet, not its for sure death-----OMG, I am so dumb: Karen Volkman's Nomina is so sonnety, as in end-rhymed, and with Petrarchan schemes, but totally 21st century!  
     I do like this bit from Michael Robbins: "The sonnet is as adaptable as capitalism."  This partly sings/zings me, but also seems a bit off: in all its adaptations, Capitalism never seems to get lost, only scrimmed.  The sonnet is now so lost it will never be regularly found.  And I feel bad for largely dissing this exchange: I think Sandra Simonds is terrific--as electronic correspondent and POET!  And her Sonnets have inspired me to write Noncenets: 14-liners which are decidedly not sonnets.

Note: from around 1960 to the present, there's a clearly demonstrable tradition of the unrhymed sonnet.  At this point, it is very much its own deal, a mode (form doesn't quite strike me as the right term) which whether I dig or gripe at totally exists and is very much more alive than what I believe sonnets are.  My beef is totally losing.  I am cheerleading corpse form not living nerves.      

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