Monday, July 15, 2013

Flying the Sonnet Flag?

This summer I've been doing a lot of revisions. Some of it is work that I'm just making, some of it the avalanche of poems from my poem-a-day experiment. I've noticed that shorter poems--12 lines, 13 lines, 15 lines, I'm thinking I could make that a sonnet. Why?

Of course, I know it's because it will indicate that I understand traditional forms, that I embrace traditional forms, that I'm informed. It will give me the appearance of propriety--proper poem-ness. When did I start to care about that?

Can I say that there are certain ways I think the poem should not be groomed? And maybe this is one of them. It's the shape of the poem's throat I should be wondering about, the utterance unspooling from that mysterious dark interior, what I coax (co-ax like a threat?) like an animal out of a cave. (And suddenly it rushes you.)

One of the ways I work as a poet is through refusal. I began in free verse. I refused early lukewarm estimations of my work. I refuse my own bad writing. I refuse writers block. I refuse the low rung of the ladder I'm standing on. I'm thinking I should refuse this, too.  

This is not the same as setting out to write a sonnet or a crown of sonnets, or a ghazal (which is the form that interests me the most right now). Shapeliness is an important element in poetry. But should a poem be trimmed to an expectation unrelated to its being?