Saturday, March 21, 2009

Episode 180: This Post Is Obviously A Sonnet

Woke up just past noon. Pottered around for a bit on my laptop before I finally made a late lunch, where I used up that can of curry and that packet of gnocchi that've been lying around for ages. Finished reading Small Favor last night, and it was awesome! Between the two wizards named Harry, Dresden could totally take Potter down in a fight. Can't wait for the next book in the series to come out now! Have now moved on to reading The Reality Street Book Of Sonnets, edited by Jeff Hilson, which is the book I'm meant to be reviewing. Having read the introductory essay, I have just one, albeit important, bone to pick, and it will be blindingly obvious to any moderately discerning reader. If this volume is intended to serve as an overview of 'linguistically innovative sonnets', why has no attempt been made, somewhere in all of Hilson's ranting about the deficiencies of other sonnet anthologies, to define what exactly qualifies everything in this anthology to be a sonnet? Some of it is recognisable as such, but at times, Hilson's inclusions call for a suspension of disbelief that I'm reluctant to concede. I really want to like this book, and I'm sure that once I've read it through I will be more forgiving in my actual review, but for now I can't help but feel that by marketing itself as a compendium of 'the myriad ways poets have stretched, deconstructed and re-composed the venerable form', somehow it's trying to have its cake and eat it too. Case in point: What the hell is a 'free-verse sonnet'? To label something as such, surely one must have some sort of standard against which to judge if the poem qualifies as a sonnet. I'm not saying we have to be completely reactionary and define the sonnet as only 14 lines of rhyming iambic pentameter, only that there must be some criteria. Otherwise, what's to stop me singling this post out as one of the 'prose sonnets' that Hilson so clearly approves of in his introduction?

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