Writing Exercise - the sonnet

Saturday 20 June 2015

As some of you may be aware, I’m currently compiling an anthology of poetry, Coming Together: In Verse.  The call for submissions is listed here: http://ashleylisterauthor.blogspot.co.uk/2015/05/call-for-submissions-coming-together-in.html

For those of you wanting to submit, but lacking inspiration or ideas, below you’ll find one of the poetry writing exercises I’ve previously shared on the blog for the Erotic Readers and Writers Association (http://erotica-readers.blogspot.co.uk). I'm going to try and share them here on a weekly basis until we reach the deadline date.

I figured it was time to look at the sonnet. However, the sonnet is not a simple warm-up exercise to be tackled before writing a day’s worth of prose. The complexities of the sonnet can steal an hour from the most talented writer, and maybe take a month from the rest of us. I offer this as a project to pick at over the next month, whenever you’re between bursts of inspiration.

The Rules:
All sonnets contain 14 lines. 

There are three main styles of sonnet: Petrachan, Spenserian and Shakespearian. Each one of these forms is made distinctive by its rhyme scheme.

Sonnets are usually written in iambic pentameter (that is, ten syllables made up of five unstressed/stressed pairings).

Because this month celebrates Shakespeare’s birthday, I figured it would be appropriate to consider the Shakespearian form. The Shakesperian sonnet usually follows the rhyme scheme of abab cdcd efef gg.

Sonnet 18
Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date:

Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimmed,
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature's changing course untrimmed:

But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow'st,
Nor shall death brag thou wander'st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow'st,

So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
   So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.
W. Shakespeare

In the example above we can see the poem divided into the three quatrains (abab cdcd efef) and a final couplet (gg).

We can also see the volta or turn on the ninth line. The volta of the ninth line is a traditional turnaround in opinion from the poet. Note how, in the first eight lines, the persona of this poem has been telling us that the addressee is lovelier than a summer’s day. Summer is crap in comparison to the addressee. In the ninth line the direction changes. Shakespeare moves on to discuss the summer that the addressee will be facing in future years.

The final couplet, usually, brings all this together.

How can we apply this to erotic poetry? Let’s try the following:

Sonnet 18+
Shall I compare thee to a porno star?
Thou art more lovely and more sexy too:
I’ve yearned to have you naked in my car,
And I would really love to service you:

Sometimes you let me glimpse your muffin tops,
Your shorts reveal your sweet and cheeky cheeks,
The view’s enough to make my loins go pop,
And make me long to have more than a peak:

But I know you’re no exhibitionist,
You’d never ever play games of team tag,
Not even if I got you truly pissed,
Because, I know, you’re really not a slag,

So long as I can hope there’s half a chance,
   I’ll dream about what’s there inside your pants.
A Lister

If you do want to submit to the current anthology, information can be found on: http://ashleylisterauthor.blogspot.co.uk/2015/05/call-for-submissions-coming-together-in.html

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