Playset: The Sonnet as Enabling Constraint
This talk focuses on the sonnet as a vehicle for feminist virtuosity and expression of attendant outrage in various registers: witty, channeled, and spitting mad. I will discuss the sonnets of two 20th-century American maestros of the form, Gwendolyn Brooks and Sylvia Plath, along with contemporary feminist practitioners including the collaborative poems of Simone Muench and Jackie White, examining how each poet deploys the sonnet’s intricate intertwinings of meter and rhyme. I’m interested in how the sonnet’s rigorous requirements impel and release each poet to speak to misogyny, racism, classicism, and sexism among other subjects, and how each author harnesses the sonnet’s compression for maximum velocity, torqueing the form in each instance to suit her needs, while reveling in the sonic booms that she—alone and together—creates.
Anna Maria Hong is the author of Age of Glass (Cleveland State University Poetry Center) winner of the Poetry Society of America’s Norma Farber First Book Award and the novella H & G (Sidebrow Books). Her second poetry collection, Fablesque, won Tupelo Press’s Berkshire Prize and is forthcoming in September 2020. A former Bunting Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, she is an Assistant Professor at Mount Holyoke College.