I loved sonnets before I knew they were sonnets; they were the first poems that reached deep inside me and made me less alone, less afraid. It took me a long while to realize how these poems I loved were related. They came from different centuries, from poets in many walks of life, and dealt with a wide range of subjects in various styles. I was too caught up in the depths of emotion and the beauty of the words themselves to notice the structure.
Had I seen Geoff Page’s “The Recipe” way back when, I might have caught on sooner. I’ve been cooking even longer than I’ve been loving poetry, and the analogy seems an excellent pairing. Making a sonnet is like making stew: you start with a basic recipe – stock, meat, vegetables, maybe starches, and seasoning. But working with that standard base, you can combine unexpected tastes and textures, vary the strength and intensity of flavors, experiment with spices and savories, serve it up and top it with an unusual garnish, making an ancient comfort food new and fresh.
So it is with sonnet-making: the form provides a freedom to combine and re-combine elements, to make something at once familiar and brand new.
Becka Choat is a reader, a writer, a lover of the printed word, dedicated to bringing people books to nourish mind, soul, and spirit. Her website is www.booksbybecka.com.