Thursday, 4 December 2014

learning about iambic pentameter with Shakespeare's Sonnet 116.

I go to a writing group, which I love to do, because it pushes me out of my comfort zone.

My comfort zone is a messy place, so it's best to get pushed out from time to time.

I am definitely not comfortable just now.

At our most recent writing group we had a great workshop on writing poems. 

I was really into writing poems as a child, and especially as a teenager, but I don't do it now. Although I am pretty pleased with my poem on Google+ which I did for the writing group last year. It's not that I don't like poetry, I just have so much other stuff that I want to read, and write, more.

However, we have been set a competition, and I think it's good for me to attempt to do it, so I've been looking at the poems we were given to provide inspiration, and I've chosen Shakespeare's Sonnet 116.

It's not that I like it. I have heard it too many times, recited unloved, thrown into the pot of a wedding, maybe even our wedding. I don't remember. When I saw that this was one of the inspirations on offer, I groaned, but...

I'm taken by the edge of doom, and a vision of Kit Harington. It feels like a story, a great big, epic quest of a story, but I'm trying to fit it into 30 lines of poetry. Or maybe 14.

Because following an interesting discussion about maths and poetry, I am taken with the concept of fitting my poem into iambic pentameter.

For those of you, like me, who know that iambic pentameter is a thing, but have no idea what kind of thing it might be (other than something to do with Shakespeare), I have looked it up (mainly here), so you don't have to.

Shakespeare wrote in iambic pentameter. This means that every line has five two-syllable feet (think of them as da-dums), giving a total of 10 syllables.

It might surprise you to learn that Sonnet 116 is a sonnet, which is an Italian form of poem, 14 lines long. Shakespeare didn't follow the Italian rhyming scheme though, instead creating the English or Shakespearean sonnet, which follows the rhyme pattern ABAB/CDCD/EFEF/GG.

So far so do-able (ish), but then there is the 'volta' or turn, a great bit BUT which arrives between lines 8 and 9. Well, I like big BUTS and I cannot lie, so I reckon it could be fun to attempt to write a sonnet for Kit at the edge of doom.

It will probably suck though.

UPDATE: I have 14 lines of ten syllables. I fear I am a million miles from the rhyming schema!