Tuesday, 18 December 2007

'Sonnets, in Plain English' are now sent to Wet Ink for consideration. It's the same title I used to submit four different sonnets to the Sydney Uni Anthology editors last week.

A week! What unnumbered events have taken place in that seemingly short span of time!

Submitted on 9 December were 'The Castaway (14 November)', 'For those Who Wrote the Book: QT & WH (17 November)', 'Reading Ugresic (18 November)', and 'The Parkville Motel (9 December)'. All of them are what I call 'concept' sonnets. The last of these is extremely erotically-charged, in the wake of an event I attended at the Mitchell Library (but unfortunately didn't post on), 'Writing Sex'.

The event, which featured a panel of eminences, included Kate Holden. This author ties in with the poem furthermore as she was mentioned by a girl from whom I bought The Sex Mook (reviewed here) while in Melbourne for a conference.

It was during the conference, in the hotel room, that I had the experiences detailed in the poem. If it gets published you can read it then. If not, then when?

Maybe some day.

And submitted today are three more 'Sonnets, in Plain English': 'How many years have passed in your absence? (13 December)', 'Cracked polish on your fingernails gives me (16 December)', and 'In the lag twixt sighs wretched aforetime (16/17 December)'.

The dates of these, which are most definitely 'love' sonnets, are the only thing that differentiates one item from its neighbour.

For the Sydney Uni book, submission guidelines specify 12-point Courier (double-spaced). You must also include your name and the title of the work on each page. For Wet Ink you must use 12-point Times New Roman (double-spaced). But you must not include a name or title on pages containing the poems.

I always use 10-point Verdana to type a poem. It is certain that someone, somewhere, has written an elegant little piece on the joys of word processing. There may even be a poem about it for all I know. In my case, a WP is essential. Especially for a sonnet, where the ten-syllable line and the strict rhyme scheme demand the ability to rapidly alter words.

The process of writing a sonnet may involve a day. For example, the sonnet titled with 16/17 December was completed in a first draft on one day but, on the next, I radically altered it. In fact, I removed the entire first quatrain and added a new, third, quatrain.

It may also happen that the terminal word changes. This is not as common as a change to a word within a line, since establishing the terminus of a line allows you to make the one after the following line (a b a b, c d c d, e f e f, g g is the rhyme scheme). In a sense the fact of having written a quatrain reduces the alternatives significantly.

But I do think that rhyme possesses a value not otherwise present in poetry. Rap, for example, describes a state of mind characterised by aspiration. It exploits the elegancy commonly attributed to rhyme, in order to presuppose its author a member of an elite.

Ad-hoc rhyming is disturbingly common in otherwise free-verse poetry. Occasionally a poet known for his or her free style (which means every poet currently producing with the exception of me) will insert an ad-hoc rhyme, in his or her striving for the elegance rhyme bestows. Here's the few verses in a poem ('Diana' in 1994's The Monkey's Mask) by Dorothy Porter:

The door reads
Dr Diana Maitland

I knock twice

she's thirtysomething
maybe forty

her hair honey-blonde

falls in her eyes
she pushes it back

with a fidgety
nail-bitten hand

she's got eyes
that flirt or fight

she's gritty
she's bright

oh christ help me
she's a bit of alright!

The rhymed elements are in bold text. Note that this is a 'love' poem: where the hard-bitten, dyke private investigator meets the elite doctor and falls in love. They soon ("my hands and heart/aching/for blossom/for wild wild risk" in 'Spring', and "this time/will we just talk?" in 'Driving to her place') get around to turning it on ("her perfume/her eyes/he hot tip/of her tongue" in 'First move').

Other than that, there are no rhymes (I'm at page 72 at the mo). Which proves that, for Porter, rhyme means something different, something extra. This is, after all, the point in the story (there are two major plotlines: the love story and the search for a girl, then the killer of the girl, aged nineteen) where Lizzie first meets Diana.

No comments: