Small books have a charm of their own, and when they’re well designed and printed, you want to own a copy just for the pleasure of holding it in your hand. Such are the attributes of Gregory Betts’s latest small book, The Others Raisd in Me: 150 Readings of Sonnet 150 (Pedlar Press), with the added benefit that one keeps opening it up to read more of what’s inside.
What’s inside is a series of poems created by “crossing out words or letters in William Shakespeare’s Sonnet 150” and arranging what remains on a page.
Here is number 84, chosen at random: “sway me to sigh / that right grace / this deed // and kill in my mind / all that won’t shelter / my fear.” There are many wonderful surprises to be found in these meticulous “texts,” and one can only imagine the labour of picking and plucking that went into their discovery (a project identified on the cover as plunderverse).
Here is number 112: “Frame my / symmetry // tiger, tiger // regulate / my shame.” The only stumbles in this consistent and rewarding work are two cautionary adverbs in the prefatory note, which claims that the book, appearing exactly four hundred years after the original sonnets, creatively misreads its subject text: these are protests too much.
As Stephen King, having repented his own adverbial sins, once wrote: “the adverb is not your friend.”
Read an excerpt from The Others Raisd in Me in Geist 77.