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Old 07-14-2018, 08:24 AM
Andrew Szilvasy Andrew Szilvasy is offline
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Boston, MA
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This does something that a certain type of good poetry does: baffle me in a few successive readings, but keep calling me back. It is, on an emotional level, completely comprehensible even if inexplicable; it demands readings and thought, but rewards them.

I think you want to work on the title. First, I don't think "American Sonnet" as it is will do. I don't think it gives enough for the reader to get the "clue," if you will. Second, "American Sonnet" seems to have a set meaning, more or less canonized by Wanda Coleman and now barnstorming with Terrance Hayes, of a 14 line free-verse poem that jazzily riffs on the traditional form (sometimes multiple "volta"s, for instance). Because of that, I think the title is distracting.
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Old 07-14-2018, 02:29 PM
Rick Mullin's Avatar
Rick Mullin Rick Mullin is offline
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Northern New Jersey
Posts: 7,722

Thanks folks.

Hi Martin,

I guess I’m hoping that the reaction you convey in your last comment works as an entrée for the one. In short, there is no answering questions such as you’re asking as you go along.

As Mark notes, this poem does, indeed, fall within the treacherous category of the sonnet about the sonnet.

It was initially written as a series of impressions, more or less trying to describe inspiration. The Superman theme was not on my mind at all, and would likely never occur to me for a poem without the process of rewrite within the form. There are lines from the original draft, such as the run on chickenpox/emphysema, for which I cannot answer a question about precise meaning. My hope is that it gives the reader enough to play with within the context of the full poem to arrive at some level of objective/subjective resolution. The bit about Nantucket, which I still like, was in the first draft. The word “Ictus” came up in a step too far in the third draft as I tried to disguise what shouldn’t be disguised if anyone is to get anything out of this. Great word, though, given its two meanings.

Thanks Mark,

First, I’m encouraged that this came across. And I like that you mention the spirit of it first off and that you actually like the cryptic chicken pox and emphysema, which is the line I like the most for its tone and very ambiguity. Yes, the Super Heroes came up as I leaned into the American nature of the drive to respond to an inspiration on a river. And, yes, the clockwork in a box is, I guess, what I was working with trying to shape the initial drafts up. In the end, the poem stayed with my initial intent (see below) but took me on a different journey.

Thanks Andrew,

In addition to hoping the subject is clear, I also was concerned that the reader would enjoy rather than be put off by the baffling quality and that he or she would actually be encouraged to stay with it long enough to pick something up. Certainly many are put off, but the trick is getting at least one onboard~,:^)

I have been going back and forth (obviously) on the title and may come back to it. I’m actually reading the Hayes collection and will be writing a review of it for the Raintown Review. This poem was launched as a flat-out response to Hayes and a lot of the initial draft was my explanation of why I employ conventional elements in a style of sonnet I write (which is usually 15 lines long and savagely American!). I obliterated that apology, and in doing so it seemed less a response to Hayes. Thus I removed the “after Terence Hayes” note under the title.
Cultural note: The first draft made a reference to Levon and the Hawks at line 10. An Americanism too far, I decided, and not such a good rhyme with box and pox.

Thanks again.
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