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I have made myself a promise to tell you all about my two most recent poetry readings, which will appear in a separate post. Today's sonnet, however, is related to the most recent one, which took place this past Sunday in Princeton, New Jersey at the launch of the U.S. 1 Worksheets: 40th Anniversary Issue launch party. I read my own poem, "Stuck Doing Chores on a Summer's Evening", as well as the marvelous sonnet I'm featuring here today. It's by Anna Evans, one of the finest local poets of my acquaintance, who is a master of poetic forms. (And you all know how I love my poetic forms!)

Anna was featured this past Sunday in an article in The Courier Post, a rather large paper here in South Jersey. The title of the article is "The life of a modern poet: Poetry is a passion, but pursuing it seriously isn't as romantic as it sounds." Here's how it starts:

Anna Evans won’t tell you she’s a poet — unless she knows you — though a poet she is to her marrow.

She won’t say she’s a poet because no one, save fellow poets, knows what to make of a modern poet.

Not a cloistered poet a la Emily Dickinson. Not a tragically dead poet like Sylvia Plath, better known now for her suicide than her work. Not a best-selling “poet,” like the songwriter Jewel.

No, Anna Evans is a modern poet: A serious, committed, award-winning — though obscure — writer who cobbles together a living with poetry at its core, though her passion does not provide her a living.

As the rest of her life allows, she steals time to write because “there’s no money in poetry.”

You can read the rest online, if you're so inclined - it includes four pages of content, photos of Anna, three of her poems, and links to her web presence, including her website.

Since the focus here at Writing & Ruminating is on the sonnet this month, here's Anna's wonderful Shakespearean sonnet, "Only Human".

Only Human
by Anna M. Evans

When troubles strike us first, an aunt is failing,
say, or something our hard work has built
is stolen from us, we react by railing
at Fate or God. And then, of course, the guilt
is not too far behind. If we'd been better —
visited more, perhaps, or if we'd read
with greater care that last important letter,
or gone to church, or prayed, or even said
something, anything . . . then maybe Fate
would not have been so cruel. But this is wrong.
Death comes to everybody soon or late;
hard work and even love aren't worth a song.
The choices we're allowed are how to grieve,
and in a marriage, stick it out or leave.

Form: As mentioned before, it's a Shakespearean sonnet, rhymed ABABCDCDEFEFGG, and written using iambic pentameter (5 iambic feet per line, ta-DUM ta-DUM ta-DUM ta-DUM ta-DUM).

Anna's use of a so-called "feminine" ending in lines 1, 3, 5, & 7, is lovely, and helps to disguise the iambic nature of the poem, even though using such an ending is entirely iambic. Heck, Shakespeare himself used them on occasion, as I remarked in this post about Shakespeare's Sonnet 56. If you count up the number of syllables in a typical iambic line, you get 10, but if you read the first line of Anna's poem, you get 11, thanks to the extra, unstressed syllable at the end of "failing". (So the line goes taDUM taDUM taDUM taDUM taDUMta.) Naturally, the line ending in "railing" does the same thing, as do the lines ending with "better" and "letter".

The turn, or volta comes a bit late in Anna's poem - not at the ninth line, really, but more at the end of the 10th, where she writes "But this is wrong." She's set the entire poem up based on usual conduct or expectations, and has just announced that she's turning it on its head, which she proceeds to do with (in my opinion) devastating effect.

I hope you will check out more of her work. Her collections are available from Barefoot Muse Press and from Maverick Duck Press. A big thank you to Anna for her permission to use her poem here.

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Apr. 10th, 2013 03:33 pm (UTC)
She has a lovely British accent. And her work is spectacular.
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