Unsonnet:Unsung (1987)

2010/05/01 § 3 Comments

Below is an example of a made-up, rather than traditional, form. This post has been spurred by Jessie Carty blogging about her attempts on the sestina.

The unsonnet form’s basic structure is a reading line length of four words, with each line ending and beginning  with a connotative enjambment (I think I just made that last term up). This ‘enjambment’ is a relationship, between the last word on the line and the first word on the next, which must be connotatively connected, either through meaning, etymology, conventional association/usage etc.

This connotation can include rhyme and traditional poetic connections. And generally the more connotations there are in the meaningful enjambent the better. (This enjambment need not worry about punctuation.)

The tight structure of the form (4 words by 14 lines) then serves to harness the emotional associations of/with a word/concept, there is a balance between the wildness of the connotation as a romantic impulse and the arbitrary structure.

It’s a constrained free verse form I guess, where oral/aural traditions of rhyme, rhythm/meter are deprecated (but not outlawed) in favour of the readers’ ability to read without moving their lips.

It’s optional to connote a connection between the first and last words of the entire poem.

The conceit and the metaphysical poets were a big influence. As was Douglas R. Hofstadter. I only heard of the language poets when I showed a few of these to Rob Finlayson at Mt Oak near Bredbo, NSW, (who showed them to Pete Spence, who them published then in 1987 as A Sonnet of Unsonnet).

Unsonnet 8

Four words per line was decided on because, apparently, most people can chunk or parse, or count, four things at a glance without counting each thing one by one.

This decision then lead to the connotative enjambment described above. Not all the unsonnet strictly employ this connotative enjambent, for as they were being written the form was being developed. They are part of the process that created the form.

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