Harriet

Categories

Follow Harriet on Twitter

About Harriet

Blogroll

Interview with the Sonnet

By A.E. Stallings

Our special guest today is the sonnet. No stranger to controversy, gender bending, political debate, the tug-of-war between the avant garde and the retrograde, the sonnet again finds herself a topic of discussion.
Her Sophia Loren Italian incarnation is top-heavy and wasp-waisted. When showing her English-rose side, she can seem a little more logical and four-square, her Barbour jacket and wellies obscuring her shapeliness (not to mention the Elizabethan ruff). On closer look, though, her graceful measurements, approaching the Golden Ratio, put you in mind of the human face or the Parthenon. The sonnet takes some time out of her busy schedule (she is in the midst of a revival, with talks of a movie deal, hot on the heels of Epic) to speak with Harriet blogger, A.E. Stallings.


AE: Some say that you’re oppressive—you have “rules”—
S: Games have rules, and who do they oppress? The children that are playing them I guess! Rules are the engine powering so much play.
AE: But something we associate with schools…
S: But here there is no punishment. You say, “I’ll break the rhyme scheme, I’ll rough up the meter”—(Measuring by the gallon or the liter)—So what? At least there are rules to transgress.
AE: I thought you had a rigid lust for order—
S: Paradoxically, I tend to thrive by testing every limit, every border. I do what I must do to stay alive.
AE: So rumors exaggerate? You aren’t dead?
S: That’s right. I’m like the phoenix! Build my pyre, and I’ll emerge renewed out of the fire, without a single hair singed on my head…
AE: Perhaps because you’re balding—some have said…
S: I’ve heard it all before. Some never tire of saying that I strum a rusty lyre. They don’t see I’m the instrument instead, play me whatever style you please, or can. You pick the melody.
AE: Some say you chime.
Some say you’re artificial, that you scan.
S: Proportion should not be confused with plan. It’s true that unlike silver I can rhyme. I’m guilty there…
AE: I’m afraid we’re out of time.
S: I was going to say, if pleasure is a crime.

Comments (9)

  • On December 14, 2007 at 12:55 pm Mary Meriam wrote:

    Pardon my undignified response – LOL!!!
    I had a chance to interview Ms. Sonnet myself (this is from several years ago), and here’s what she told me:
    I’m scared of my own life. I should be dead,
    not sonnetizing morning, noon, and night,
    upsetting avant-guardians, well-fed,
    able to smile and even laugh, eyesight
    and teeth intact. Or could it be I died
    and found a second wind? One thing I know,
    my death was very close—it was inside
    of me, beginning funeral plans. My slow
    return took centuries to understand.
    It seems I’m back, though still a bit unsure
    of what to do, because I hadn’t planned
    to last this long. Sometimes I take a tour
    of every happy humming poem part
    and bless my little feet and every fart.

  • On December 15, 2007 at 3:31 pm Steve Mackin wrote:

    I seek terrains by Paul Cezanne,
    and tremble under Van Gogh’s moon.
    I see a god by Paul Gaughin
    as red Picassos fill the room.
    A girl, white with bright red lips,
    stands snared in ivy that is blue.
    She sings a lullaby to ships
    that makes the starry sky change hue.
    There is a white shark in the garden.
    What drove it from the woven seas?
    There is a Dali in the garden.
    Pluck its gypsy eyes like posies.
    Be cautious of its mouth of thorns.
    Like the mid-wife, pay heed to bees.
    SPM

  • On December 15, 2007 at 3:36 pm Steve Mackin wrote:

    An otter eats sea urchin.
    It loves it above all other food.
    Watch an otter wrap itself
    in broad leaves of kelp,
    bob on the sea upon its back
    to crack spiny urchin upon a rock
    it laid upon its belly:
    if it was human I’d say it’s rapture
    lighting its saucer eyed whisker face.
    Once I thought I’d an affinity with otters,
    but then I ate uni
    and felt I’d licked
    the rotting bottom of the sea,
    and now the otter is foreign to me.
    SPM

  • On December 15, 2007 at 3:49 pm Steve Mackin wrote:

    Okay, that’s all, only the three, I promise. These are all sonnets, two playing with the rules in different ways (thank you Robert Lowell), but sonnets none the less, and all recent. Rules! What good is a rhythm unless you syncopate it? What good is the key unless you add that one note to create that unique chord, those chords of longing? Just wanted to show that the sonnet good bad or indifferent is very much alive and thriving at the center of my practice. And why doesn’t it surprise me that the Sonnet speaks with an Italian accent?!
    On the other side of the window
    the crab-claw crawl of easting clouds
    spun north and scudded straight at me
    filling the sky above the muddy
    green horizon of the Park.
    The sky grew old. The sky grew dark.
    The air grew thick, and rubbing skin
    the hair became electricity
    and fingers delivered boldly charges,
    then windows rattled under wind tossed rains.
    Last night I heard a story of
    a fisherman who stirred a sea;
    What Prospero disturbed this cauldron
    into this reality?

  • On December 19, 2007 at 9:53 am Don Share wrote:

    And who can forget the immortal “Sonnet,” by Edwin Arlington Robinson?
    Sonnet
    Oh for a poet—for a beacon bright
    To rift this changless glimmer of dead gray;
    To spirit back the Muses, long astray,
    And flush Parnassus with a newer light;
    To put these little sonnet-men to flight
    Who fashion, in a shrewd mechanic way,
    Songs without souls, that flicker for a day,
    To vanish in irrevocable night.
    What does it mean, this barren age of ours?
    Here are the men, the women, and the flowers,
    The seasons, and the sunset, as before.
    What does it mean? Shall there not one arise
    To wrench one banner from the western skies,
    And mark it with his name forevermore?

  • On December 20, 2007 at 7:14 am Don Share wrote:

    And who can resist this sonnet to end all sonnets by E.A. Robinson?
    Sonnet
    Oh for a poet—for a beacon bright
    To rift this changeless glimmer of dead gray;
    To spirit back the Muses, long astray,
    And flush Parnassus with a newer light;
    To put these little sonnet-men to flight
    Who fashion, in a shrewd mechanic way,
    Songs without souls, that flicker for a day,
    To vanish in irrevocable night.
    What does it mean, this barren age of ours?
    Here are the men, the women, and the flowers,
    The seasons, and the sunset, as before.
    What does it mean? Shall there not one arise
    To wrench one banner from the western skies,
    And mark it with his name forevermore?

  • On December 20, 2007 at 11:44 pm Mary Meriam wrote:

    I can neither forget nor resist, Don. That is one helluva good one. Here’s a “beacon bright” sonnet in response.
    The Market-Place
    BY WALTER DE LA MARE
    My mind is like a clamorous market-place.
    All day in wind, rain, sun, its babel wells;
    Voice answering to voice in tumult swells.
    Chaffering and laughing, pushing for a place,
    My thoughts haste on, gay, strange, poor, simple, base;
    This one buys dust, and that a bauble sells:
    But none to any scrutiny hints or tells
    The haunting secrets hidden in each sad face.
    The clamour quietens when the dark draws near;
    Strange looms the earth in twilight of the West,
    Lonely with one sweet star serene and clear,
    Dwelling, when all this place is hushed to rest,
    On vacant stall, gold, refuse, worst and best,
    Abandoned utterly in haste and fear.
    Correct spacing can be seen here:
    http://www.poetryfoundation.org/archive/poem.html?id=177822

  • On December 22, 2007 at 4:24 am Alicia (AE) wrote:

    Thanks for these nifty sonnets in conversation with sonnetude….
    Another, by EA Robinson
    The master and the slave go hand in hand,
    Though touch be lost. The poet is a slave,
    And there be kings do sorrowfully crave
    The joyance that a scullion may command.
    But, ah, the sonnet-slave must understand
    The mission of his bondage, or the grave
    May clasp his bones, or ever he shall save
    The perfect word that is the poet’s wand!
    The sonnet is a crown, whereof the rhymes
    Are for Thought’s purest gold the jewel-stones;
    But shapes and echoes that are never done
    Will haunt the workshop, as regret sometimes
    Will bring with human yearning to sad thrones
    The crash of battles that are never won.
    I especially love the octave–Sonnet Mastery=Sonnet Slavery, and vice versa, as further elaborated in Ange’s recent post on the Malice of the Sonnet.

  • On December 22, 2007 at 3:10 pm Steve Mackin wrote:

    Sonnetude – quality or condition or degree of the sonnet, sonnetness. I’m not sure if that’s the right name for her. How about Sonnetella, She of the sonnet? Merry Christmas and a snappy blue beer!


Posted in Uncategorized on Friday, December 14th, 2007 by A.E. Stallings.