As yet untouched by any writer’s thought
you’re still pristine and perfectly unspoiled.
Just like a botox-frozen face that ought
to pull and stretch, from life you have recoiled.

Expressionless, your stare does challenge me
to get the better of my writer’s block.
Hypnotic blankness prohibited shall be;
my creativity I will unlock!

Your icy soul I’ll stir and then transform,
till staring blankness blank shall be no more.
You’ll glow with meaning, rhyme and metric form,
no longer frosty and fearful as before.

What’s this I see now, scrawled all over you?
As well as three quatrains, a couplet too?

 

M. P. Lauretta lives in the UK. She is a humanities graduate and first became acquainted with prosody while in higher education in London. However, it wasn’t until several years later that she decided to take up the challenge of writing formal poetry with rhyme and meter, quickly developing a special predilection for the exacting but elegant form of the Shakespearean sonnet. Her first collection, entitled To a Blank Page and Other Poems, contains twenty-eight original poems, fifteen of which are Shakespearean sonnets. Her book is available from Amazon, Apple iBooks, and Barnes & Noble.

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27 Responses

  1. Monty

    Good day, MP.
    Were ya trying to maintain metrical or syllabic equality . . or both?
    I ask in view of line 12; which could be remedied by, for example, swapping ‘frosty’ for ‘cold’.

    Reply
  2. C.B. Anderson

    Dear M.P.,

    You seem to have mastered the form. Just one little hiccup: Line 12 has an extra syllable, but since it doesn’t really ruin the rhythm, it’s probably unnecessary to exchange “frosty” for a monosyllabic word — similarly for line 7 (“disallowed” for prohibited?”). Also, you have given me a timely nudge, as I have been in a dry spell the past six months

    Reply
    • Jack Durak

      If slight grammatical errancy is allowed, I would go with “froze” in place of “frosty,” since it retains the alliteration. For “prohibited,” perhaps “proscribèd,” because I’m fond of the bilabial consonants implanted into that line, which give it a dull rapping sound, as if a pen is beating against the blank page.

      Reply
  3. M. P. Lauretta

    Thank you all for the comments, and thank you James Sale for the compliments. As I’ve only started writing sonnets this year, I can certainly use the encouragement!

    Regarding the controversial line 12, it has exactly 5 feet if you I read it like this:

    no LOnger FROsty and FEARful AS beFORE

    Personally I wouldn’t change that “frosty and fearful” because that’s exactly how I see the blank page in this poem: pale, cold and lifeless, and also frozen with fear (plus the alliteration emphasises the point).

    Sadly, here in the UK it almost feels as though formal poetry is actively suppressed, so I am really enjoying reading both the Society’s latest anthology and other poems I have found in various formalist books and websites, including Joseph S. Salemi’s (and by the way, it should not have escaped him that I have a Sicilian surname too).

    Reply
    • C.B. Anderson

      That’s exactly as I read line 12, and the problem (a small one) is that “-sty and” is two consecutive unaccented syllables, which breaks the iambic meter into something that doesn’t scan — not that perfect scansion is the be-all and end-all. If the editor is interested, I have a number of sonnets about writing sonnets, which I would be happy to submit at some future date.

      Reply
    • C.B. Anderson

      M.P.,

      I’m sorry to hear of the suppression of formal poetry in Great Britain. I have always thought that British appreciation of same was a bit better than what goes on here in the USA. I’ve published quite a number of formal poems in British journals over the years, but perhaps I’m behind the times. I’m sure that there are several writers on this stage who lament the demise of Candelabrum and possibly other poetry journals. Strangely, there are journals from India and other places around the world where formal English poetry is still welcomed. Meanwhile, I’m glad to have you aboard the SCP ship. Write on!

      Reply
    • James Sale

      Yes, Laura, we all need encouragement; for as GM Hopkins put it, ‘Lord of Life, send my roots rain’. And I share with you your despair about the UK poetry market; it is far worse than the USA for a number of reasons, so let us thank God for the SCP and like minded individuals across this great country. And it is, incidentally, why I especially dislike spats between ‘formal/classical’ poets when the real enemy is elsewhere.

      Reply
  4. M. P. Lauretta

    Oh, and this is how I read line 7:

    hypNOtic BLANkness proHIbiTED shall BE

    Reply
    • C.B. Anderson

      The same problem here. “-ness pro-” is another example of consecutive unaccented syllables.

      Reply
  5. David Paul Behrens

    Personally, I believe substance and meaning are more important than syllabic count or meter, but the ideal poem should have it all.

    This poem was conceptually clever, and I enjoyed it.

    Reply
    • C.B. Anderson

      D.P.,

      To your first point: exactly so. To your second: I tend to agree.

      Reply
  6. Amy Foreman

    So glad you’re publishing here, M.P.! I look forward to seeing more of your work. 🙂

    Reply
  7. James A. Tweedie

    M.P. I suspect that a perfect poem would get few comments at SPC because there would be no helpful suggestions to be made lol! In any case, I’ve been in a whimsical mood, lately, and your poem fed into it wonderfully well. I also enjoyed the tight couplet with its well-timed punchline. Nice.

    Reply
    • M. P. Lauretta

      Thank you for your kind comments.

      I’ve only written 15 sonnets to date, and this was my second one. I wanted it to be playful with a twist, and I had great fun writing it.

      It’s just amazing to see established poets commenting on my sonnet.

      Reply
  8. Joseph S. Salemi

    Two unaccented consecutive syllables are generally OK if they can be elided. In this poem, “frosty and fearful” might be read with the /y/ and the /a/nd eliding slightly.

    Formal poetry is certainly being suppressed in the UK, along with any open cultural manifestation of tradition. This is a widespread problem in the arts there, and doesn’t affect poetry alone. Just look at what a disaster the TLS has become since that idiot Stigg Abell took it over.

    Reply
    • M. P. Lauretta

      Yes, the all-important elision (which I forgot to mention)!

      Indeed, the situation is quite dismal here in the UK. I recently took out a membership to the Poetry Society and was really looking forward to receiving my first copy of their quarterly Poetry Review. When it arrived though, I was sorely disappointed – in fact, I was close to tears.

      With the exception of a single villanelle (the token poem in a 140-page publication) everything else was… well, prose – and some of it even plodding prose. Pages and pages of it, some even in chunky, right-justified paragraphs!!

      At first I thought there must be a mistake, but no. The unsubtle hint, the word ‘Poems’ in the page headers, added insult to injury.

      Clearly, it’s reached the point now they are no longer pretending to ‘experiment’ but are openly taking the mickey. They know they can, because for all their purported anti-conformity they are the Establishment.

      Reply
      • Joseph S. Salemi

        And like every Establishment, they have no scruple at all about enforcing their orthodoxy on the rest of us.

  9. Mark Stone

    Ms. Lauretta, Hello. 1. I would put a comma at the end of line 1, since line 1 is a dependent clause and since the end of line 1 is a natural pausing point. 2. In line 5, the “does challenge” is not the way people normally speak, but it is there, I assume, to maintain the iambic meter. When I face this problem, I try switching the verb to the past, future or passive tense to see if that will match the meter. In this poem, you could change “does challenge me” to “has challenged me.” 3. Five of the 14 lines (4,7,8,9 & 14) have inversions, which, unless you like inversions, strikes me as a lot. Most appear to be done to make the meter or the rhyme. However, you don’t need to invert line 9. It could read: “I’ll stir your icy soul and then transform”. That would give you an “st” sound in the second syllable of lines 9 & 10 (vertical consonance). 4. Line 10 has the words “blankness” and “blank,” and for each it is their second appearance in the 101-word poem. Using a word twice in a short poem, to me, is like eating two ice cream cones in a row. The first one is tasty, but the second one is less so. In a longer poem, it can make good sense to repeat a word, such as Edgar Allan Poe’s “Nevermore.” But in a short poem, I see it as a lost opportunity to flex your vocabulary and add vibrancy to the poem. 5. If you choose to rework line 10, I have a suggestion. The poem has a lot of nouns that you can’t see, hear, taste, smell or touch, such as: creativity, writer’s block, thought, life, form and soul. I would put in the line something that the reader can visualize. For example:

    An empty spider’s web shall be no more.

    Or, since you like inversions, perhaps:

    Lie fallow shall the fertile field no more.

    6. I like the consonance in lines 2 & 9, the personification of “the page” in lines 4 & 9, the simile in line 3, the internal rhyme in line 6, and the alliteration in line 12. It’s no wonder the poem sounds so good! The meter is strong, except as noted in the other comments. Most important, the poem is clever, entertaining and fun. I hope you share more poems with us in the future.

    Reply
  10. Jack Durak

    I was playing around with the second stanza for my own amusement, but I might as well share the result:

    Expressionless, your stare does challenge me:
    How much longer will this writer be blocked?
    Nay! Hypnotic blankness proscribèd be;
    my imagination I have unlocked!

    Reply
  11. David Hollywood

    Wonderful and congratulations upon such success at such an early stage in your writing of sonnets. Onward and upwards I sense. Well done and thank you.

    Reply
    • M. P. Lauretta

      Wow, thank you!

      That’s given me the impetus to start writing again. 🙂

      Reply
      • C.B. Anderson

        Go for it! There’s nothing to lose that you haven’t already lost, given the situation in the UK.

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