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An update from our forty-ninth Writing Workshop with Conner Bassett

A summary of the workshop held on Saturday, November 12, plus some of the output published below

"A poet is a liar who always speaks the truth." -Jean Cocteau

"I pulled a chicken's foot from behind the moon." Federico García Lorca

For this week's workshop, Conner taught us the form of the sonnet, focusing on the importance of sound. To begin, he provided us with a vocabulary for literary sound:

  • Exact rhyme: a classical rhyme in which the endings of words sound exactly the same.
  • Slant (off/half) rhyme: a rhyme in which the ending consonants match, however the preceding vowel sounds do not match. Could also just be words that sound similar.
  • Assonance: when you have a repeating vowel sound in two words. "summer" and "fun."
  • Consonance: when you have similar consonant sounds anywhere in the word.
  • Alliteration: the same letter or sounds at the beginning of words that appear close together

Once we had a vocabulary of sound to work with, we discussed the rules of the sonnet:

  • 14 lines
  • Close attention to sounds, especially the end-words of each line
  • has a volta, or a turn, often in the 8th, 10th, or 14th line

We then read four sonnets:

  • "American Sonnet for My Past and Future Assassin" by Terrance Hayes.
  • "God's Grandeur" by Gerard Manley Hopkins
  • "Fairy-tale Logic" by A.E. Stallings
  • "Sonnets to Morpheus ["I know kung fu"]" by John Beer

The Challenge: Write your own sonnet! It should be titled "Self Portrait." It should be 14 lines, have a volta in either the 8th, 1oth, or 14th line, and follow some sort of rhyming pattern.

The Participants: Emma, Savi, Aditi, Arjun, Robert, Anna, Zar, Tate, Josh, Ella, Alice, Benedetta, Allie


Self Portrait

Zar Pavri, 12

With a new day comes new tasks,
Challenges all greater than the last,
Times when you must put on a mask,
Times when you must sit back and relax,
Times when you must watch your back,
Times when you must let them attack,
Times when you must win them back,
Times when you must take a step back.
And in all these there comes a time too,
To return to your home and start anew.
It has been a long day and you are through,
Let the remaining hours wash over you.
Tomorrow has things for you to do,
Today you must prepare for your debut.

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