We are reading poems in Sonnet form for our summer issue. So far, many submissions seem to echo or mimic Shakespeare in his archaic form. The definitions offered on the submissions page are the basic definitions, but in the hands of a skilled poet, the form can be altered somewhat. We are looking for artistry more than the rigid adherence to the form. That’s not to say the abandon all the rules, but to say that learn the rules so well that you can bend them to suit the needs of the poem. I offer you an article by Annie Finch, “Chaos in Fourteen Lines,” and a few sonnets that can help you in creating your sonnets. This article by Annie Finch cites several modern sonnets. Please, pay careful attention to creating a powerful “volta” in your sonnet.
The one modern sonnet that I would like for you to read isn’t available online and is copyrighted. It is “Therapy” by Kim Addonizio from her poetry collection Tell Me.
In this journal, we prefer poems that technically skilled yet are accessible to a broad audience. Personally, I prefer poetry that resonates emotionally yet retains a logical coherence. In the end, an average reader wants to connect to your poem, and it’s not likely to happen if the poem is obscure. So, clarity of expression is critical. Since the internet is an open medium, I want the poem to reach some isolated soul in a distant land to read your poem and connect with it, be comforted by it, and be inspired by it.
Having said all that, I want to emphasize that we are looking for a variety of styles and themes including traditional style. This post is here to let you know that there are options besides the common styles and themes. Here are the guidelines for submissions.
If We Must Die
— Claude McKay
If we must die, let it not be like hogs
Hunted and penned in an inglorious spot,
While round us bark the mad and hungry dogs,
Making their mock at our accursèd lot.
If we must die, O let us nobly die,
So that our precious blood may not be shed
In vain; then even the monsters we defy
Shall be constrained to honor us though dead!
O kinsmen! we must meet the common foe!
Though far outnumbered let us show us brave,
And for their thousand blows deal one death-blow!
What though before us lies the open grave?
Like men we’ll face the murderous, cowardly pack,
Pressed to the wall, dying, but fighting back!
Remember me when I am gone away,
Gone far away into the silent land;
When you can no more hold me by the hand,
Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay.
Remember me when no more day by day
You tell me of our future that you plann’d:
Only remember me; you understand
It will be late to counsel then or pray.
Yet if you should forget me for a while
And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
For if the darkness and corruption leave
A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad.