Tag Archives: Barbara Hamby

What Profit Is There In Being Marlene Dietrich

For this month’s Famous People poem, Barbara Hamby’s “What Profit is there in Being Marlene Dietrich

What profit is there in being Marlene Dietrich

if you don’t rip the intestines out of some dummkopf
who adores you? […]

This sonnet starts off with a roar — I admit I’m a sucker for poems that use sound combos like “intestines” and “dummkopf” in a single line. It’s a great setup for the attitude of the poem, and a really turn after the line break. Continue reading

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Sonnets, The Gritty Ones Especially

The soufflé cliché feels apt for sonnets, the cliché about them falling down a lot, and even though I’ve never made a soufflé, or even watched someone make one, and can’t remember the last time I ate one, I’m going to go with it.

So. The sonnet is just like the soufflé. All are made with the same ingredients, but only a few turn out right. Most collapse. It’s all in the technique and the quality of the ingredients. I’ve been working my way through The Making of a Sonnet (eds Hirsch and Boland), a pretty thorough anthology divided mostly by century (Sixteenth – Twentieth), with sections also for sonnets about sonnets (‘The Sonnet in the Mirror’) and sonnets of lengths other than 14 lines. And I don’t like most of them.

Which isn’t saying much — percentage-wise I probably don’t like most of any type of poetry. Like all the other arts, for every shining peak of a poem there’s a ginormous iceberg of crap poems waiting to sink you. And sonnets have been written around for 500 years now, so that’s a big iceberg.

However, the sonnets I like I tend to love. Broadly speaking I feel more strongly, I think, about the sonnets that I like, than, for instance, the ghazals that I like. Continue reading

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