Bake-off Begins Tomorrow

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Dear Fellow Poets,

In choosing the finalists from the sixty-one sonnets submitted to me for this year’s bake-off, I relied on the wisdom of poets, the expertise of scholars and, of course, my own gut feelings, what I call the “goose-bump factor,” which may or may not be wise, but there it is.

My decision matrix was based on the following four main criteria (weights in brackets), all of which had sub-criteria as well:

(A) craft, sound, mechanics, images, mood (2)
(B) true to the spirit of the sonnet (3)
(C) universality/transcendence (2)
(D) goose-bumps (3)

For each sonnet, I assigned numerical values for each of the weighted criteria on a rating scale where 1 meant low, 5 meant moderate, and 10 meant high. The finalist average was 84.

Not everyone will agree with the decision matrix or concur with my choices for the finalists. All I can say is, I did my best to offer you what I believe to be the best among an embarrassment of riches, the sixty-one sonnets entered in the 2009 Eratosphere sonnet bake-off.

My comments follow Mr. Cassity’s, beginning tomorrow, April 1, with the posting of the first two finalists. I invite you all to discuss, critique and close read each sonnet. There will be a “call for ballots” on April 6 following the posting of the final sonnets.

À demain, et bon appétit, mes amis!

-- Catherine Chandler