two rules for sonnet essays: #1 no cussing. #2 don't call me shirley.

The sonnet has become the poet's self-imposed glass ceiling. Surely we can appreciate the irony that the form whose best feature is that it encourages a poet to think through the challenges of form, rhetoric, and syntax has become the easy alternative to thinking through new ways to meet the challenges of form, rhetoric, and syntax. Surely we can see how a fervour for sonnets stunts an adaptable poetics that responds to those standard old sonnet traditions of love, time, and death, but also to the alienation of digital communication, the shallowness of social networking, dystopian echoes of G20s and G8s, or science's assault on the fundamentals of the way we understand the universe - in other words, the full challenge of investigating the immediate in an art almost as old as language itself. When our response to that challenge is to take the sonnet with all its many virtues, raise it on a pedestal, and stop thinking about how else the lessons of the sonnet - rather than the sonnet itself - might be applied, adapted, explored, and expanded, preferring instead to churn out more fucking sonnets? Well, that is a sad and tragic decision. Me, I say fuck that. And fuck the sonnet.

- Chris Jennings, breaking all the rules in his demurely titled essay "On the Sonnet" in the Winter 2011 issue of Arc.

It's a great issue in general, featuring long essays on Robyn Sarah and Don Coles (by Carmine Starnino and Amanda Jernigan, respectively), and new poetry by Steven Heighton and Elise Partridge, among many others. Check it out at an independent bookstore near you, yo!

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