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Thursday, April 5, 2012

A Sonnet for a Message Board

I was a poet once.  My first piece of 'creative' writing was a poem about a horse (what else?  I was a girl in third grade).  It rhymed.  I still know it by heart.  No, I'm not posting it here.  My teacher was wise (and charitable) enough to praise it and encourage me, and I was hooked.  I wrote a lot of poetry through the years, with rhyme and meter (usually).  I've lost a lot of what I wrote, though just now I found some pieces in an award-winning fine arts magazine published by my university since 1897. 

I started participating on a message board set up by a large concern that publishes and sells books of all sorts (among other things).  There is a board about electronic books, boards for all types of writing - Young Adult, Mystery,  Historical...  Not surprisingly, the explosion of self-publishing has caused something of a tsunami of authors who have read that they must push themselves every chance they get with the result that message boards all over the place were swamped with people advertising their writing, proclaiming that they are writers, urging people to buy!  buy!  buy!  (and arguing publicly - embarrassing for the rest of us - with those people who have the tastelessness to give them a review of less than five stars).  Not surprisingly, such promotions were banned from the boards both at that specific site but also around the web.

The boards are full of comments about obnoxious authors, and those of us who aren't, cringe.  To counter this and provide some humorous relief, one person set up a thread that encourages posts to be submitted in haiku form.  It went for a while (I enjoy haiku), then morphed into Tanka, another Japanese form that has a beat of 5:7:5:7:7

I went along with it for a while and then upped the ante by posting a sonnet:

I wandered through the threads upon this board
Read frenzied boastings from the wannabees
Counter'd by the sneering of the hordes
Who fought to keep the threads promotion free.
I drew a breath, put up my feet and sighed
Why should my muse have led me to such grief?
Class'd with the rabble, scorned and vilified -
Seeking desp'rately to find relief?
"Alack!" said I, "To be so misconstrued!
"Grouped with Neanderthals who have no couth!
To wish both groups in hell would be too rude,
And heaven help the soul who tells the truth!"
Yet leap I must - So listen, everyone!
I'm off these boards until the squabbling's done!

That's a Shakespearean sonnet, which is the most common.  It has the following rhyme format:

I upped the ante by writing it in iambic pentameter, which is as easy to slip into as riding a bicycle after a break of several years, once you've learned how.  Is it great poetry?  Well, no.  I'd have to really polish it and, frankly, it isn't worth it.  I may do some more sonnets, however, when I have some time.  I did enjoy them.

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