A Review of James A. Tweedie’s Mostly Sonnets: Formal Poetry in an Informal World The Society March 3, 2021 Beauty, Essays, Poetry, Reviews 13 Comments Mostly Sonnets: Formal Poetry in an Informal World by James A. Tweedie, Dunecrest Press, July 2019 by Theresa Rodriguez As a fellow sonneteer, I felt like I was reading the words of a kindred spirit when I read James A. Tweedie’s Mostly Sonnets: Formal Poetry for an Informal World. Tweedie is a very fluid writer with a clean, clear, expressive style, which grabs ahold of you with its immediacy and beauty of execution. What is most striking is the mixture of Christian belief intermingled with an honesty of thought, never coming across as sermonizing, but expressing a faith-filled wonder and appreciation for the natural world and the place of the intelligent believer within it. In “For My Beloved,” the closing couplet summarizes a sonnet on communion, or the Eucharist: . A sacramental mystery divineTo taste that I am Yours, and You are mine. . In “Love that Lasts” we are treated to such phrases as “flame-impassioned kiln of lust;” “Incendiary fireworks of heart / And thigh;” and “faux-felt, fickle love” which is “temporal and ephemeral at best.” The closing couplet brilliantly summarizes the contrast of lust versus true love: . True love is not based solely on the thrill,But reaffirmed each day by force of will. . In Poem IV of the “Poems of Hibernia and Caledonia” (“To the Unknown Scribe of the 8th Century Book of Kells”), we learn of the scribe: . He transcribed scripture and illumed each textWith intricate designs infused with prayer;Forsaking this world’s kingdoms for the next. . One of my favorites is “When God dies,” which is a powerful antidote to atheism: . The silent echoes of a stillborn sunPortend the doom of uncreated day,As once-knit atoms come unspunAnd time implodes in random disarray. Now-soulless life unbreathes its final gasp,Unsuffering in meaningless distress,As darkness holds the cosmos in its grasp—Imbued with mindless, vapid pointlessness. Abandon hope, all ye who enter here,For separated from eternity,Love, truth, and beauty fade and disappear,The hapless victims of Modernity. A universe that’s empty, formless, void,Is all that’s left when God has been destroyed. . In Mostly Sonnets we are also treated to a set of three love sonnets “In an Antiquated Style;” a pair of sonnets about the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World; a sonnet about treading “The Pilgrim Path,” where “We must cross our daily Rubicon;” a sonnet about humpback whales; and a powerful reflection in “On Regret,” where the author is reflecting on his life and the choices of the past: . Although I have regrets, it’s far too lateTo undo what I did so long ago.Perhaps it’s best to bless and consecrateThe past to God, and then just let it go. And yet how nice it would have been, somehow,To know back then the things that I know now. . What I appreciate most is Tweedie’s honesty when it comes to dealing with matters of his own faith. In the sonnet “What If” he asks a series of rhetorical questions about the possibility of “faith proven false,” opinions possibly “found to be in error on review,” and the chance that “…all that I’ve held certain [is] turned unclear.” The final couplet sums up his believing heart perfectly: . Take note: My faith in Jesus remains strong,But as for all the rest I could be wrong. . I have found throughout the book that his closing couplets are very strong and have a truly musical flow to them—as do the poems themselves, full of lyrical beauty and many well-articulated truths. Other topics such as a rural Christmas, the Black Death, a winter thunderstorm, a whale watch, and issues of faith provide a variety of reading pleasure. This was a truly enjoyable reading experience. I would recommend Mostly Sonnets to anyone who loves the sonnet form and would enjoy the combination of finely-written poetry with an honest, religious aesthetic sense. . . NOTE: The Society considers this page, where your poetry resides, to be your residence as well, where you may invite family, friends, and others to visit. Feel free to treat this page as your home and remove anyone here who disrespects you. Simply send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Put “Remove Comment” in the subject line and list which comments you would like removed. The Society does not endorse any views expressed in individual poems or comments and reserves the right to remove any comments to maintain the decorum of this website and the integrity of the Society. Please see our Comments Policy here. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window) 13 Responses James Sale March 3, 2021 A sonneteer on a sonneteer: wonderful! I think James Tweedie’s sonnets are first-rate, and I agree with Theresa that his concluding couplets can be incredibly powerful – James really is somebody who understands the sonnet form. I strongly recommend his book and I am really pleased I have a copy!!! Reply james A. Tweedie March 3, 2021 Thank you, James. I appreciate your kind words even as I appreciate the help you offered when I was preparing this book for publication. Reply James Sale March 4, 2021 Well, it’s a beautiful collection James, so it was a pleasure!!! Theresa Rodriguez March 3, 2021 Thank you to Evan for publishing this review, and to James Tweedie for writing such an excellent book! Reply C.B. Anderson March 3, 2021 Yes, James Tweedie is a national treasure, whose work fairly overflows with concinnity and profound thought. I think that everyone here knows that, though James himself might be too modest to love hearing such an accolade. Reply James A. Tweedie March 3, 2021 C.B. While I do not yet consider myself old enough to be designated a “national treasure” (although when I turn 70 in May–as Joe did this week–I may reconsider) I am, nonetheless, enjoying basking in the warmth of your accolade. Also, I believe this may be the first time the word “concinnity” has ever been employed on my behalf. It is not a word I would ever chose to describe myself but, modest though I am, I feel compelled by gratitude to accept, embrace, and savor it. Especially since I doubt I will ever have the opportunity to do it again! Reply Susan Jarvis Bryant March 3, 2021 Theresa, this is a beautiful review for a worthy and engaging poet. Thank you for bringing James Tweedie’s accomplishment to our attention. Bravo James! Reply Sandra Ginn Keeney March 3, 2021 Is Mr. Tweedie’s Mostly Sonnets available anywhere besides on Amazon? Reply James A. Tweedie March 3, 2021 Sandra, In addition to Amazon, my book is available in several bookstores in my corner of south-west Washington. It is also available directly from me at the same cost, including shipping, charged by Amazon. If this interests you feel free to contact me through Evan. Reply Sandra Ginn Keeney March 17, 2021 Contacting Mr. Mantyk for 2 copies of your book, Mostly Sonnets… @ $ 9.95 each. I will need postage since I was a Prime Amazon user. S. Keeney Corey Elizabeth Jackson March 4, 2021 The imagery in the sonnet “When God dies”, quoted in this review, is uniquely rich and powerful in pointing to a universe devoid of consciousness. “Stillborn sun”, “uncreated day”, “once-knit atoms”, “time implodes”, “now-soulless life”, “vapid pointlessness” . . . all these stark, entropic concepts place in razor-sharp relief the effervescent faith of the conscious human heart. This sonnet, by its sheer and evocative contrasts, is a spellbinding testament to the truth of a God that can never be, as the final couplet says . . . “destroyed. “ Reply James A. Tweedie March 4, 2021 Corey, You have captured my intent with precision. It pleases me greatly that this poem spoke to you so clearly and convincingly. The words and phrases you cite were wrested from my soul by a power greater than my own. I may “own” the poem but in truth it belongs to God who, I firmly believe, brought it into existence through me. It is, regardless, a poem offered in praise for the glory of God. Reply Andrew Benson Brown March 4, 2021 Just ordered a copy. Excited to read it! Reply Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYour email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.