Some Sonnets edited by Tim Wright
(Tim Wright, Winter 2010)
The other day I was looking for some work online by Slovenian poet Tomaz Salamun. I found a reading at youtube.com under the auspices of U.C. Berkeley. The reading series is called Lunch Poems. Salamun was introduced by Robert Hass. There was nothing wrong with the reading and I thought Salamun was a very good poet. And yet the whole thing seemed so polite, so mannered, so official and, for me, so boring. So I shut the reading off about mid-way and went looking for something else to do.
Thank god for DIY publishing and for blogs. If I can make an analogy, the Lunch Poems reading series is like AOR rock&roll of the 1970s while blogs and publications like the one under review are like a night at CBGBs watching the Ramones play. Nothing wrong with a radio-friendly band like Boston but I prefer the raw vitality and DIY attitude of the Ramones.
A few weeks ago Prague-based aussie poet Ryan Scott sent me a home-made anthology of sonnets composed by Australian poets. It was like a breath of fresh air. Most of the poets are bloggers and all attack the form of the sonnet like it was just invented by them. This is my sort of poetry and my kind of publishing. Don’t wait for someone to recognize your genius. Just go and get the work out yourself whether digitally like in blogs or in paper form like this book.
What I find both fascinating and enervating is the way in which the publisher and editor, poet-blogger Tim Wright, ordered the pieces within the two covers. They are randomly shuffled and printed without names attached. Thus if the reader wishes to know the author of a particular sonnet then she’d have to keep her finger on the table of contents and scan for the title and the name of the poet. I like names and I like names attached to the poems I’m reading. But then I gave in to my reading immersing myself in the experience of reading like I was exploring newly formed peaks and valleys. The topography yielded some surprises. A few poets are brand new to me while others I know fairly well. I tried matching sound and style to the names of the contributors and I got maybe half of them right. Here’s a taste of what you’ll find inside by the wonderful poet Michael Farrell:
sonnet for nick whittock
that love like a bat can tap a balls weakness
send it filthy & red to the fence,
result, you sweat, say nice words, isnt irony;
its what mostd expect an opener to make,
with wristy perfection; until the next singing
loves a chucker, & theres times id walk.
the selection was in the news before i knew;
gulls squawk, lbw, the ball separated itself from me;
i disdain the box, let love do its worst.
A few of these sonnets are in traditional form while the majority are experiments, like the nine-line poem quoted above, of the kind began by Ted Berrigan and even, might I suggest, John Berryman and with more than a dash of Gertrude Stein and a pinch Jackson Mac Low. I loved the lot of them. A few of the contributors are Ted Nielsen, Ryan Scott, Jill Jones, Tom Lee [whose piece ‘FOURTEEN‘ had my blood pumping], Stu Hatton, Derek Motion, Corey Wakeling and Kate Fagan. If you’ve read a few poems by contemporary aussie poets or recognize some of the names above then you know there’s some high-quality, high-powered writing inside. Some Sonnets come highly recommended and might even cure what ails you if your malady is like mine as I described it at the beginning of this review. I’m not sure how to get a copy of this book and it appears there’s only 100 printed. I suggest going to Tim Wright’s blog, http://swimswam.wordpress.com/, and leave a comment asking for a copy. Then click thru Wright's links and read the blogs of many of the contributors of this excellent collection.
richard lopez writes poems and reviews. drop him a line and say hey at reallybadmovies.blogspot.com