Don’t try to write like Shakespeare

Text: Solveig Hansen, 2017

NaPoWriMo/GloPoWriMo (National/Global Poetry Writing Month) is here again. Challenge: Write one poem a day in April. I wonder what daily prompts Maureen Thorson, the creator of this annual project, will throw at us this year. Cinquain, ottawa rima, tanka, pantun, tritina. I have tried them all, but none of them made me sweat like the sonnet we were asked to write last year.

There I sat, trying to come up with 14 good lines, each with 10 syllables, and a rhyme pattern of a-b-a-b c-d-c-d e-f-e-f g-g — those are the rules for a sonnet. Today’s sonnets should have a contemporary tone and natural rhymes, I read on the Internet. “Don’t try to write like Shakespeare.”

My 1/3 finished sonnet was called Reassembly: I look at my mirror image and she looks coldly back. With one swift look at me, she calls my bluff and sees that I am not living my life to my fullest potential. I scream, she screams, and the mirror breaks. “Scattered fragments of myself all over.” I cannot “piece them together as they used to be.” I have to find my real purpose in life to be able to “glue me back to life.” I am not the only one inspired by Dylan Thomas’s Do not go gentle into that good night. My sonnet was supposed to end with this reference to Thomas: “No, Dylan T, I will not rave and rage, / but gentle go through life towards old age.”

Clichés, I know. “Don’t try to write like Shakespeare.” Indeed.


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