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The Sonnet

The Sonnet


From 13th-century Sicily to 21st-century Brooklyn, the sonnet has remained one of the essential poetic forms for 800 years. Just a few decades after its first use by English poets, Shakespeare was already satirizing it for invention’s sake (see Sonnet CXXX.) But even now, despite inevitable love-dove clichés and hackery, poets keep finding new ways to finesse meaning and tonality from its simple, if challenging, constraints. In this five-week online workshop, we’ll write toward a greater verbal, formal and imaginative resourcefulness, in hopes of producing real live poetry in this short, fixed verse form. To that end, we’ll read groundbreaking sonnets from every period and in various modes, including traditional sonnets and nontraditional rhymed, blank and free-verse variations. A primary aim of the workshop is to move beyond the idea of the sonnet as a poetic formula and toward a deeper grasp of it as a surprisingly versatile means to a huge variety of expressive ends. Readings will include sonnets by Petrarch, Wyatt, Shakespeare, Sor Juana, Keats, E.B. Browning, Rimbaud, Borges, Auden, Gwendolyn Brooks, Margaret Walker, Stephen Edgar, A.E. Stallings, John Murillo, Terrance Hayes, Deborah Paredez and others. Class sessions will meet synchronously via Zoom every Sunday, and assignments, poems and critiques will be shared via Wet Ink.


Workshop Details

  • Professor: Joshua Mehigan
  • Dates: March 25–April 22, 2021
  • Time: Thursdays, 6:30–9:30 PM (EST)
  • Location: online via Zoom
  • Cost: $345
  • Class size: 5–10 students
  • Registration deadline: SUN, MARCH 21, 2021
  • Earlybird discount: $15 off by SUN, FEBRUARY 7