Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Sonnets: a Progress Update

It's been a ridiculously long time since my last post on this blog - three months! I vow to mend my ways.

In particular, the last sonnet I posted was no.76, the Leigh Delamere sonnet which I guerrilla-published as a Trip Advisor review of the eponymous service station. This sonnet, and what I did with it, has made a few people laugh, which is exactly what I hoped for it, it being quite a light-hearted affair.

Since Leigh Delamere, I've written a further 60 sonnets, so I'm now 155-136=19 sonnets from my Shakespeare-rinsing target. Here are a few examples:-

The first one's about Ed Victor, the literary agent.

Sonnet 77
Old Mr Victor’s robbing graves again,
but shall be back anon in Bayley Street
with shrivelled gonads of Amartya Sen
sewn into his exquisite trouser pleat.
Inside his office, on his trophy shelf,
Woolf’s womb, formaldehyded in a glass,
floats next to smirking shrunken head of Self,
wordless for once (and thankfully). Stuffed arse
(a buttock each of Amis père et fils)
does duty as a very tasteful pouffe.
A Welsh oak desk’s mounted on limbs (MacNeice);
and Eliot’s eyeballs stare in mute reproof
from collage painting made of choicest cuts
of Malcolm Gladwell and Kurt Vonnegut.

The next one was written as a good-natured piss-take of colleagues in one of the writing groups I've joined.

Sonnet 85
At tables, separate, in anoraks
we hunch, composing as we decompose,
each skull ballooning with its poison sac,
hatching the tapeworms through each mucoid nose.
Here crouch the fifth rate novelists, and there
the memoir mis’rab’lists. Unclean! Unclean!
The poet, paranoid, balefully glares,
at filth accumulating on her screen.
Abruptly back the playwright scrapes his chair,
stands up and flees crying, “Obscene! Obscene!”
Occasioned now is shift of adipose,
a grunt or two, scratching of bum or back.
We hunch, composing as we decompose
at tables, separate, in anoraks.

This one is about some chaps with huge beards going to the gym.

Sonnet 91
The oarsmen, grunting, heave; and now they row.
Nietzschean Vikings, later on the necks
of monks to whet their blades, erstwhile must go
meek ’mongst the elderly of either sex.
These do not pander to the outward forms
of sage, being garrulous and in the way.
Now Eidur frets and Sven inwardly storms.
They find, downstairs, a fjord. Whereof, coins pay
for heroes, whom its cubits twenty-five
Urd heedlessly, or Skuld, propels along
and back anon. ’Tis writ: we’re not to dive.
Nor are the tunes like Volga Boatmen’s Songs,
but jangling fuckery played far too loud
for Aquaerobic’s geriatric crowd.

The last one is what you might call a meta-sonnet, i.e. it's a sonnet about writing sonnets. Meta-sonnetry can feel a bit self-indulgent, but I still think I got a pretty decent piece of verse out of it. Another curious feature is that the rhyme scheme is what might be thought of as reverse Wyatt; in that the Petrarchan sestet typical of Wyatt comes before the Shakespearean octet also typical of Wyatt..

Sonnet 109
You reach a stage, even with stuff like this
(which some take for an elevated thing),
when it becomes routine and workaday.
Grasp you your speculum. Look into quis
and quod. You’ll find that a canary rings
the change. Marsyas at this point is flayed,
and Najibullah afterwards unmanned.
Habitually, reference is made
to time, involving hour glass and sand,
and how beauty is truth and yet shall fade.
Some guff about doubloons to bevel off.
Lastly, the dedication; this made trite,
as if to mask a snigger with a cough:
“My Lord of Bristol, and his catamite.”

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