Henri Cole’s Best of Both Worlds

Although many of the poems in Henri Cole’s Middle Earth are single-stanza free-verse sonnets, some of the moments I found most technically interesting involved indented lines. Take, for example, the opening poem, “Self-Portrait In A Gold Kimono:”

Born, I was born.

Tears represent how much my mother loves me,

shivering and steaming like a horse in rain.

My heart as innocent as Buddha’s,

my name a Parisian bandleader’s.

I am trying to stand.

Father is holding me and blowing in my ear,

like a glassblower on a flame.

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Tactics for Contemporary Sonnets

Contemporary sonnets are not easy to write.

Yet some have done it surprisingly well. Of the poems I liked best toward the latter half of this anthology, there seemed to be three general types of poems that employed either dense music to drown out the form; an “absurd” subject matter juxtaposed against the intricate, labyrinthine turns of the form; or a very faint adherence to the form, giving a vague echo or nod to the tradition while also breaking free.
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