Interview with the Sonnet
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.
A. E. (Alicia) Stallings studied classics in Athens, Georgia and has lived since 1999 in Athens, Greece. She has published three books of poetry, Archaic Smile (1999), which won the Richard Wilbur Award; Hapax (2000); and Olives (2012). Her new verse translation of Lucretius (in rhyming fourteeners!), The Nature of Things,...