Writing sonnets is not the easiest of tasks. Paring a narrative, idea, philosophy into fourteen lines, 5 feet, metered with a set rhyming pattern can take days and months to produce, and while this may be rewarding, this can also be very restricting in times when one wants a little room to breathe.
Milton Acorn is one who understood this form. He worked mainly in sonnets, but he needed room to play around and push the boundaries that a sonnet cannot sometimes produce.
This is confusing to some. A sonnet is about restriction, discipline and time. While the jackpine sonnet allows freedom and space.
In an interview with James Deahl, close friend of the late Milton Acorn, Mr. Deahl stated, "In Milton’s view, as well as in mine, the Lowellian sonnet allowed Robert Lowell to address topics in a direct and, to a degree, non-poetic manner. Both Lowell’s sonnet and Acorn’s sonnet speak to the public in a way not common in their other poetry."
This is important in understanding the jackpine sonnet. It removes some of the stigma of poetry in ... well ... poetry. It creates a space of accessibility to the public to be let into poetry's normally closed doors. So here is a simple recommendation when writing your jackpine sonnet. Start with the goal of writing a sonnet. Be prepared for discipline and restriction, then, about half way through, have a beer ... or two. Relax, and enjoy the space Milton Acorn has allowed you. Trust me, there is no better pairing than poetry and beer.