What I am writing: sonnets

One of the units I am currently studying for my Master of Arts in Creative Writing is on writing poetry. One of the expectations is that we write at least one poem each week in preparation for the tutorial after each lecture.

The poem each week is usually in a different format. We are expected to print off enough copies for each of the students in the tutorial group. We then take it in turns to read out our poem and it is then workshopped – that is, the other students and the lecturer critique the poem or poems.

While this was a little threatening at first, as I have progressed through the course I have come to appreciate how useful such a process is in developing my poetic skills.

Last week we looked at several sonnets by such classical poets as Gerard Manley Hopkins. We then had to write our own sonnet using one of the traditional forms of sonnet, such as that used by Shakespeare for example.

For readers who are not familiar with the sonnet form I’m not going to explain it here. There are many more qualified people than me who have explained the various forms of sonnet on their websites or in books on poetry. All I will say is that I attempted to write a 14 line sonnet, all in iambic pentameter with the following rhyming pattern: abab cdcd efef gg.

I realised early in the week that this is one form of poetry I had never attempted before. It was going to be a challenge.  I am pleased that I managed to rise to the occasion and produce a poem that my lecturer suggested I send immediately to our major daily newspaper. The theme was very topical. So far it has not appeared, but the lecturer has also suggested I submit it to the college annual anthology for consideration.

I was so taken with my little piece of success that I immediately wrote another sonnet.

I think I’m in love with the form!

Good writing.


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