Sonnet Bake-off: One week to go!

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Catherine Chandler's picture

In one week, I'll be posting the first two bake-off sonnets, with Mr. Turner Cassity's comments and a few of my own.

In her Introduction to The Penguin Book of the Sonnet, Phillis Levin states that the sonnet is " . . . a mode of introspection, a crystallization of the process of thought, of a self arriving at self-consciousness.”

This seems to be borne out in this year's bake-off, as no less than 72% of the sonnets submitted were written in the first person, 82% of which were in the first person singular.

And yet, the finalists' sonnets are not self-indulgent rantings or navel-gazings, but rather exemplify the soul of the sonnet, i.e., the attempt to give voice to seemingly irreconcilable differences (passion and reason, faith and doubt, life and death); to "put chaos into fourteen lines" as Millay put it. In doing so, the finalists have taken what may seem to be isolated incidents, random vignettes, or everyday observations, and made them transcendent.

I cannot wait to post them and begin our discussions!