So, maybe the sonnet is not your favourite poetic form. Maybe you love free verse. Maybe you love free verse so hard that you cannot fathom any constrain on your words. Sure, sonnets are scary. You have to put time and effort into them. You want to say something but you don't think it will fit into the line. And what happens when you have a line and it isn't finished. A line break? Weird.
There has been some confusion over the jackpine sonnet. The explanation has some people saying that's not a sonnet, this is a sonnet. To make it more confusing I respond back with, "that's not a sonnet, this is a sonnet" as I hold a spoon in my hand. Click here to understand this pop-culture reference.
Pop-culture references aside, let's say that you wanted to write a jackpine sonnet and didn't know where to start. Well thankfully poet extraordinaire Sina Queyras, otherwise known as Lemon Hound, has helped us discuss and understand the form of sonnet. Her recent blog post at Harriet discusses the multiple variations of sonnet. From erasure sonnets, to compression sonnets, to—yes—jackpine sonnets. The blog post is a short summary of sonnets, but it gives a quick glance at all of the forms that come from it. (It also proves that the comment section of any blog is a death match of egos.)
Now there is something looming within the jackpine sonnets that has poets running in the opposite direction. Is it a young ghost hoping to steal your soul in the middle of the night? Nope, just somewhat opposing ideas. The jackpine sonnet asks the poet for a sonnet, but says, don't constrain yourself to the form.
As Ms. Lemon Hound, the bad-ass poet of the internet, can tell you:
"So yes, the Jackpine Sonnet. “The fiddle’s incomplete without the dance,” Acorn writes, “Let’s hook fingers to complete.” Without some kind of constraint, verse Acorn suggests lacks luster, and in general, I would agree. There is little sign of a struggle, perhaps. Form or constraint puts pressure on the idea behind the poem, on the original gesture. The sonnet form, Acorn argues, is “realisant.” It’s an organic, not fixed form. “It grows to any shape that suits the light, suits the winds, suits itself.” The Jackpine is a tree that grows in all sorts of conditions. It is resilient and as Acorn appreciates, each tree grows and looks very differently." – Sina Queyras, Harriet Blog
So here is one final image for your to consider in writing a jackpine sonnet. Imagine a pot, not the Canadian pot but a flower pot. Each plant is put into the same pot, over and over again. Each flower that grows is beautiful in its own way. Now imagine one flowers' roots grow through the pot and break it. The image is different, beautiful in its own way. This, is the the jackpine sonnet. Where not only are the poems different, the form is as well. Slight alterations to the point that each poet is creating their own form each time they write a jackpine sonnet. Scary. A world where apposing ideas collide to make art.
Now, my friend, become the sonneteer and imagineer it. And Lemon Hound, if you are reading this, respond to my fan mail.