Sonnet Poem Written By Shirley

Fujita-Sato, Gayle. "'Third World' as Place and Paradigm in

Cathy Song's 'Picture Bride,'" MELUS (spring 1988): 49-72. Lim, Shirley. "Picture Bride." MELUS (fall 1983): 95-99.

Kenneth Speirs

THE SONNETS TED BERRIGAN (1964, 1967, 1982, 2000) Ted berrigan's The Sonnets was first published by Berrigan's C Press in 1964. The book (and Grove Press's 1967 edition) contained 65 sonnets. Reissues of The Sonnets by United Artists Books (1982) and Penguin (2000) have respectively restored six and seven previously omitted sonnets. Perhaps the most "traditional" aspect of The Sonnets is that it can be read both as a cohesive book and as a collection of discrete poems. Thus the book belongs to the tradition of sonnet sequences stretching back to Shakespeare's sonnet sequence and Petrarch's sonnets to Laura.

Similar to Shakespeare's sonnets, Berrigan's are addressed to various characters. And yet, as Alice not-ley comments, "where Shakespeare's plot is patterned chronologically [Berrigan's] is patterned simultaneously, and where Shakespeare's story is overt [Berrigan's] is buried beneath a series of names, repetitions, and fragmented experience that in this age seem more like life than a bald story does" (v-vi). Phrases, including "I like to beat people up" and "feminine, marvelous, and tough," are repeated throughout, lending a sense of consistency to the otherwise highly fragmented work.

The Sonnets also works to threaten conventional definitions of authorship and originality. Lines from other authors, without attribution, are made a part of what, in effect, is a collage—one half of "A Final Sonnet," for example, is a word-for-word selection from Prospero's final speech in Shakespeare's The Tempest. The Sonnets is particularly noted for its references to new york school poets, and thus The Sonnets is a work in conversation with select predecessor poets. By inserting other writers' works into his own, Berrigan reestablished the practice of collage as a technique in the writing of poetry. Libbie Rifkin explains that collage can be understood as collaborative, insofar as Berrigan conceived of "collaboration as an encounter between any number of different writings, set in motion but not controlled by a single writer" (130).

Poems in The Sonnets are significant for their lyrical beauty and their assault on sonnet conventions. No single poem conforms to the rules of established sonnet structure. Elevated language typical of traditional sonnets—for example, "o let me burst, and I be lost at sea!"—appears throughout The Sonnets, yet Berrigan combines it with a street-smart and wholly contemporary rhetoric: "fucked til 7 now she's late to work" (sonnet LXIV).

Altogether The Sonnets radically extends the possibilities of the traditionally conservative sonnet form, as it continues to evoke 1960s ideals, including community-building and democratic redistribution of wealth—particularly the wealth of predecessor poetry.

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