Prose Sonnet (an experiment)

can it still be called a sonnet if it lacks of fourteen lines, yet has one-hundred-forty syllables? And if the words fit within a prescribed rhyme scheme, so instead of counting lines, syllables were counted and then multiples of ten were all rhymed and broken into lines they amounted to Elizebethan form or they mimed the schemes of Petrarch or Spencer?

Can you call it a sonnet if it reads more like prose than poem, but it still adheres to a few of the rules? Is it a sonnet? Who knows!

Count my syllables, and after each ten, make a line break. Is it a sonnet then?


The above is my experiment in what I would like to call a “prose sonnet”. My idea with this is to do with the sonnet what Allen Ginsberg did to the haiku with his “American Sentence”. If you do count the syllables in my piece, you will find (unless I miscounted), that syllables with a multiple of 10 are rhymed ABAB,CDCD,EFEF,GG as would be the case in an Elizebethan sonnet.

I’m posting this to dVerse, for Open Link Night. Please do go visit, and read the works of some rather fabulous poets!  (This also responds to Bjorn’s Tuesday prompt to write a poem in questions)


14 thoughts on “Prose Sonnet (an experiment)

  1. Interesting idea Bryan – especially to repeat Ginsberg’s experiment with a different form. Ever since concrete poetry captured me as a young man, I’ve always been interested in structural notions and where the boundaries can be pushed and re-invented.

  2. Good for you to experiment Bryan ~ For me this is more like a prose poem, than the sonnet form ~ The formatting in the page is also different. I like the questions that you posed though…maybe, who knows!

  3. I think that it might… though I think I prefer the 14 lines …. and then you have 15 line sonnet like “the death of a toad”… I think inventing forms is one of the best ways to improve your writing.

    Poetry is to write within the boundaries you set your self.

  4. I think the traditional 14-line sonnet forces the ear to hear rhymes that otherwise slip by unnoticed. Somehow the ear and eye working in combination highlight the rhyme scheme that’s buried in this prose sonnet. Since you are the poet who wrote it, I think you can call it whatever you want: prose sonnet or something else entirely. At any rate, I enjoyed it and I did count your syllables. You counted right. 😉

  5. I come lately to the structured poetic world, having been a knee-jerk poet all my life. Often the what seem to me convoluted complicated instructions shut down my simple brain and make me want to run screaming into the night “I can’t dooooo this!” That being said, I do so admire your perpispacity!

  6. Well experimenting is how forms are created so I say bravo to you, Bryan, for your creativity and authentic voice. I’ve yet to write a proper sonnet and have my attempts listed under “not a sonnet.” 🙂

  7. Gerald Stern wrote a book “American Sonnets” which broke all the rules except that they were short poems about a page in size. Anything seems to go for sonnets. Probably the same thing goes for haiku. Is it still a haiku if a poem has only one word of three syllables? Regarding lines, for me, if I can’t hear a metrical line then there is no line no matter where the line breaks are placed on the page. Because of this aural focus, I wouldn’t mind if a Shakespearean sonnet were written without line breaks or had twice as many line breaks as expected. If I am hearing that sonnet, I wouldn’t be seeing any line breaks anyway. I can hear a near iambic pentameter rhyming couplet in the last sentence of your prose poem.

  8. An interesting series of questions Bryan and I personally feel that poetic forms which originated in centuries, countries and languages other than the one you are living and writing in are ready to be adapted ;o)

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