On writing a sonnet this week

Last Monday morning I told myself that I was going to write a sonnet over the week completing three lines a day ending with two lines on Friday. Each morning I’d write and post them on Facebook with short videos of students of mine in China reciting poems they’d written in English that I liked. That would inspire me and also be a delight for anyone who had the time to watch and listen.

Monday was a favorite by Richard called Passion

and I wrote

A poem is never over, never
Reread. It’s always a new beginning
Another way of looking at a thing

Tuesday Dusk by Riuqi Liu

and me

Think of a bird then think of a feather
Think of furniture in a happy home
When everyone sits down together

Wednesday My Heart by Nicolas.

Who doesn’t like a comfortable dinner?
When what you mean to say comes on its own
And the words and tastes in memory linger

Thursday was the very clear Mirror by Muhammad

Long after the guests have gone. A poem
Is conversation remembered alone
In a mirror: reflection and figure

And Friday a translation of Bian Zihlin’s A Scene by Iris

What has been told is doing the telling
What is understood is understanding.

I call the poem above a sonnet although I know there are those out there who will have at me for it. So be it. I am grateful that I did what I set out to do.

Last night while I was at Pete’s Candy Store in Brooklyn waiting for the poetry reading to begin (Madhu Kaza, Adam Fitzgerald and Stan Mir), I was going over the poem and noticed it could be read backwards, last line first, and not only that, but maybe it was better beginning with the couplet. Anyway it was another way of looking at it which was what it was about. O happy serendipity!

What is understood is understanding.
What has been told is doing the telling
In a mirror: reflection and figure
Is conversation remembered alone
Long after the guests have gone. A poem
And the words and tastes in memory linger
When what you mean to say comes on its own
Who doesn’t like a comfortable dinner?
When everyone sits down together
Think of furniture in a happy home
Think of a bird then think of a feather
Another way of looking at a thing
Reread. It’s always a new beginning
A poem is never over, never

The readings last night was good. Adam Fitzgerald and Stan Mir timed theirs very well (great sounding language in thoughtful exciting images, loud and clear) and left me wanting more. It was nice to find out that Bernadette Mayer is one of Adam’s favorite poets (mine too) and to meet Stan Mir who is from Philly. Philly is kind of my hometown and the poetry scene there, which I took part in during the 70s, is always interesting and diverse: just about any night of the week you can find a good poetry reading. And Stan knew some of my work from a chapbook of mine given to him by Ryan Eckes via my nephew Daniel. That was nice too because when you haven’t been published in a while it’s nice to know someone is reading you. I hardly get to poetry readings anymore and I ought to make the effort because something good always comes out of it.

A poem is never over, never
Reread. It’s always a new beginning
Another way of looking at a thing
Think of a bird then think of a feather
Think of furniture in a happy home
When everyone sits down together
Who doesn’t like a comfortable dinner?
When what you mean to say comes on its own
And the words and tastes in memory linger
Long after the guests have gone. A poem
Is conversation remembered alone
In a mirror: reflection and figure
What has been told is doing the telling
What is understood is understanding.

October 1, 2011

4 Comments

  1. Rob Gunter
    Posted 16 Oct ’13 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    It’s amazing how creative and honest your students are.. no it isn’t. I volunteer teach, and see the same, just not in poetry. I am envious of such an inspiring matriculation, however. Way to go, Don!

    • Posted 16 Oct ’13 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

      I am so glad that you enjoyed their writing.

  2. Posted 11 Oct ’14 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    Nicest sense of aesthetic power in all of your peers who put their ideas in a well arranged manner that bring an amazing picture and style of your sonnet leaving it as a remarkable piece….
    -M.A.Rathore

    • Posted 11 Oct ’14 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

      I am very glad that you appreciated it, M.a. Thank you. It makes my day.

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