Will we see ‘Sonnetto Poesia’ again?
by Marie Marshall
Shortly after I posted this item, I heard from the Editor-in-Chief that he had decided against the re-launch mentioned below. That’s his prerogative, and I respect his decision.
Well, it has been some time since the last print copy of Sonnetto Poesia was seen. Officially the magazine closed more than a year ago, but of course the editorial team has been involved in producing The Phoenix Rising from the Ashes anthology, which is due out in June. But the whisper now is that the magazine may well be re-launched on line. It’s early days, but I’ll let you know for definite as I get more news – probably by late July.
Meanwhile, what would readers want from a magazine devoted to a traditional verse form like the sonnet? Where does formal verse stand in the twenty-first century? As you know, I cut my teeth on formal verse – it gave me an appreciation of technical power in poetry and has informed my writing of free and experimental poetry – and I regard the Chinese walls between styles of poetry as being unhelpful and in need of demolition. Is it a contradiction, therefore, for me to be involved with and concerned about publications dedicated solely to one poetic form?
I would be interested to hear your views.
*wistfully* Do you think my Easter Bonnet Sonnet would qualify? 🙂
To my thinking, poetry and music without definite form and structure are not poetry or music. The best disciplines for starting are rhyme in poetry, and rules of harmony in music. Without mastering those, more adventurous works will probably wind up as a meaningless garble – whether such garble meets with popular acclaim or not. The ‘Emperor’s New Clothes’ syndrome is very strong.
My preference is for the classical forms, anyway. In poetry, what resonates in the mind as being wonderful concepts does so with even greater impact if it also engages one’s innate sense of rhythm, and plays with that at the same time. Take the force of a sudden contrasting thought introduced into a poem at the same time as a jarring break in an established rhythm, for example.
In essence, anyone who dismisses the formal forms can hardly claim to be a serious lover of poetry.
It would really be interesting to have a challenge to poets to present the same idea first in a traditionally formal format, such as a sonnet, and then as completely free verse, and then to have a vote as to which version had the most impact.
I think you are arguing from the standpoint of your own aesthetic taste here; a valid standpoint of course, but also possibly limiting. Before we look at the argument you are advancing, I think it would be worthwhile asking, you what do you believe poetry is for?
Doesn’t everyone argue from that standpoint? Otherwise there wouldn’t be one to argue from.
On could write an essay on that. What is music for? What is literature for?
The short answer is that it is to please or challenge – or both – the senses. What do you believe it is for?
The answer to your first question is no. Any artform is too broad for it simply to be appreciated or understood on the basis of personal taste. Not for nothing does the axiom run – de gustibus not est disputandum. When I see a work of art, or specifically read a poem, I know that there is so much more going on than an attempt to please me. That’s something I have to be acutely aware of as an editor.
Yes, one could write an essay on the subject of ‘what is poetry for?’ and whilst I don’t really like short answers (thank you for yours, by the way) I would give the following as mine: Poetry exists to express in words what prose might struggle to express. That might include the aim of pleasing or of challenging, but does it stop there?
Another question, therefore, seeing as the issue is the place of formal verse in the 21c – what is free verse for, from the point of view of both the writer and the reader?
Your idea of a vote, by the way, is interesting, but it would be difficult to level out a suitable playing-field.
By the way, you will see from my amendment to the blog entry that no sooner had the idea of a revival of Sonnetto Poesia been floated than it submerged again. I might be tempted to start my own sonnet e-zine. You never know. It’s a thought for the future.
Personal taste, granted. Consensual taste is another matter – and that can as easily be mistaken, influenced or biased as that of individuals.
I do believe that one needs to keep the possibility in mind that even if an artist is regarded as a genius, there may be absolutely nothing worthy of analysis going on in some of that person’s productions. This applies far more to those of the untalented – who may, nevertheless, produce the occasional gem.
Free verse is a game for experts played with no rules by numerous amateurs who have no poetic talent but delude themselves into thinking that the division of lacklustre prose into staggering stanzas turns it into poetry.
Why confine it to sonnets? Widen the scope to include all more ‘formal’ forms.
btw a definition of all art I put forward in the insert to my first Quests album was that it is the manipulation of expectations in sensory perception One builds on those existing and creates new ones, after which meeting and/or failing to meet them.
You’ve answered the question “What do you think of ‘free verse’?” rather than the question I actually asked, which would limit any discussion to a simple matter of personal taste. Nevertheless, thank you for your perspective.
On the matter of why confine any future e-zine to sonnets, I can give more than one answer. Firstly because it would replace a publication which existed for some time. Secondly because there are already publications which specialise in formal verse in general. Thirdly because I am not a neo-formalist, nor a promoter of neo-formalism; rather I am a writer and editor who appreciates the position of formal poetry within the ‘spectrum’. Fourthly because I have been and still am interested to see what modern poets can do in this specific form…
I rather like your definition of art as “… the manipulation of expectations in sensory perception One builds on those existing and creates new ones, after which meeting and/or failing to meet them.” I think I would add to this that every time I have contemplated a work of art of any form, mode, or genre, I have been struck by its statement of priorities (most easily appreciated in visual art, I would say, but this applies as much to music, poetry, etc.).
interesting and very informative discussion to me.
i have no knowledge or experience with poetic form and structure, but certainly admire those that do. any three year old can make avant garde sounds with pots and pans but only a ________ can remember and organize those sounds into a ????
I have met very few people who identify themselves as poets, but tributes to their courage and warm spicy personality continue long after they are gone.
poetry to my untrained gut is unpredictable language sending reader’s a subtle nuclear implosion to see with slightly altered eyes, nose, mouth, ears.