Write You a Sonnet? My friend, I’m On It! (pt. 1)

Celebrating William Shakespeare’s birthday a day late….

I like sonnets. Here’s the famous one that inspires me: https://poets.org/poem/shall-i-compare-thee-summers-day-sonnet-18

I once wrote a proper sonnet about my teeth for my mom because my sister challenged me to.

To be clear, I’m no poet or expert on poetry, but exposure to a few of Shakespeare’s 14-line works of art leads me to stand in rightful awe of his skill with words and use of structure,

REAL POETS! Please feel free to correct me or elaborate on something that’s more important than I claim.

A Shakespearean sonnet is 3 quatrains, each quatrain is four lines, each line is ten syllables, and every other line rhymes. At the very end come two final rhyming lines, also ten syllables.

That seems like a lot

of work for any poem

Even the haiku.

To be creative, structure can be a good thing. Rules to follow or rules to break.

Anyway, as far as my teachers know, I read Shakespeare in high school (Romeo and Juliet) and college (Hamlet and … some other ones?) but I really learned to like sonnets when learning about advertising and ad writing. It became one of my favorite brainstorming activities to use personally and in my classroom.

Specifically, I may ask students to come up with a slogan or tagline for a client or product. We’ll work hard but it’s too tempting to latch onto the first idea and ride that one home and call it a day.

Another approach is to make the assignment in multiples, like “come up with 10 slogans.”

That number might seem intimidating but it’s also, to me, more like starting over 10 times.

So I’ll ask students to write a sonnet about the assignment or client. Instead of starting over 10 (or 14) times, there’s continuity and flow to the process.

Perhaps more importantly, there is serendipity. Serendipity is an unplanned happy discovery and I found on many occasions that the best slogan or tagline would be discovered in line 4 or 6 or 13, brought about because we needed something to rhyme with “package” or “retail.”

How about you? Do you bring The Bard into your life in some way?

More on this tomorrow!