H&N Poetry Challenge

Do you have something that needs to be expressed in poetry? Post your sonnets in the comment section, below.

And it doesn't have to rhyme, in honor of our recent guest, Gail Mazur, we're asking for "American Sonnets." Gail coined the phrase to describe an unrhymed, free-verse 14 line poem, of the sort that Pulitzer Prize winning poet Robert Lowell wrote for years.

Professor of English at UMASS Boston Lloyd Schwartz had this to say in a posting for the Poetry Society:

"Gail Mazur has coined the term 'American sonnet' for the kind of unrhymed, free-verse 14-line poem Robert Lowell wrote for so many years. The freedom to write a sonnet without rhyme or meter, that consciously reflects a departure from these as well as from the traditional structures of Shakesperean or Petrachan sonnets, yet is also determined to think in 14-line units seems a uniquely American way of dealing with tradition"

This poem comes from Danielle Fontaine, a student of UMASS Boston English professor Lloyd Schwartz.

It Started With a Screw
spliced into our door frame.
I removed it, slipping
it into my right hand
pocket, before I left
you. In our bedroom,
the windowsills warped, knots
tangled up in wood. Unraveling
flannel, the screw catches corners.
The star branded into its head
is chipped, its threads, too worn
to grip. Still, I drive the point
into fresh drywall, dusting
the blue carpet, twisting up
new window dressings.
- Danielle Fontaine

We also heard from listener Kay Dolezal, who sent this sonnet.

The Kindness of Strangers

Three urban red tail hawks were growing up
in a nest on an office building on a nearby Parkway.
Birders gathered and named them, calling one Larry.
My father was called Larry by friends and coworkers,
although he was Lawrence to my mother and Daddy to me.
I didn't want to, but the hawks made me remember
the unfamiliar distance that grew between us
with the bitter dementia of his last months
and the dark, beaked mask of his dying.
And they helped me see across a longer distance,
somehow shared their telescopic vision so I could see him living.
Now I can picture my father as his young hawk namesake,
launching a feathered body into currents of the air
again and again as watchers below call out to him and cheer.

-Kay Dolezal

This program aired on June 8, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.


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