WD Poetic Form Challenge: Sonnet

I expect this challenge to be super competitive, challenging and fun! After all, the sonnet is one of the more popular and flexible forms available to English-writing poets.

Click here if you’re unsure how to write a sonnet. (It’s basically just a 14-line poem with a flexible rhyme scheme. There’s a general rule of thumb for meter, but I’ll let you know right now that I won’t be scanning lines.)

As in previous challenges, the poet who writes the sonnet that I like best will be featured in a future issue of Writer’s Digest magazine (the July/August issue to be precise). Poets should paste their sonnets in the comments below; I will not accept submissions by any other means.

Click here to read the general rules for the WD Poetic Form Challenge.

The deadline for the sonnet challenge is March 10, 2011. That means you have roughly 41 days to turn around 14 lines of poetic brilliance. You can do it!


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121 thoughts on “WD Poetic Form Challenge: Sonnet

  1. Taylor Graham


    This is where the wild, toothed and taloned
    words submit to somebody’s agenda.
    Questions with non-negotiable answers
    (always/sometimes/never) about Exercise
    and Diet (how often in the last 30 days…?)
    Blessings on our garden’s chard that lasts
    well beyond its summer promises, but
    slumping now with another frost, seasons
    of swiss-chard boiled, sautéed with garlic,
    chile-stirfried, comfort-soup, or slivered
    into salad – all this, our luscious bounty
    lumped statistically into Leafy Greens;
    and you and I, aging humans in this winter,
    anonymous (never/sometimes/always).

  2. Rosie Pova


    In a tiny drop of dew
    the light of the world is reflected.
    Washed, freshened up and renewed
    this young morning brings peace – unexpected.

    For the storms I was captured by
    now seem so docile and pale.
    Not to cry, not to die,
    but to embark in full sail.

    The sweet time of innocence carelessly wasted –
    accounting for most of my days –
    the freedom of felicity never tasted
    push away my old ways.

    Clear, reborn with a light on my shoulder:
    My morning is wise and my day will be bolder.

  3. Rosie Pova


    To all of you, my fellow contestants,
    trying your pen at this craft,
    I read your sonnets that attest
    you didn’t submit just your first draft.

    You’ve embraced the sonnet and gave it its merit.
    You’ve tickled Shakespeare showing your drive –
    this poetic form is not to be buried –
    if asked to compete we would keep it alive.

    So, my hat’s off to you, but the competitive me
    still strives to find a way to beat you.
    Oh, come on! I’ve never won, let me be!
    As a writer would say, “My break’s overdue!”

    In conclusion, congrats to the winner!
    Hoping it’s me, does that make me a sinner?

  4. Cate Foster

    Growing Pains

    You haven’t shaved yet. The creeping shadow
    has emerged, tracing the line between youth
    and manhood. A fine line I cannot slow.
    It scares me. Should I help you find your truth?
    The little boy I knew, who would take my
    hand without hesitating, now wants to
    stand on his own. And I just have to try
    to step aside, because it’s time for you
    to find your own way. Part of me wants so
    much for my sweet little one to return,
    but even more I want to watch you grow.
    Forgive me if I sometimes show concern.
    I am already nostalgic for your
    future. My dream is for your dreams to soar.

  5. Kit Cooley


    It takes a little effort, it is true,
    to make a thing of beauty from this head,
    so full of fragments, when out of the blue,
    the tangled ball of yarn gives up a thread

    that leads to inspiration, burning bright
    as sunlight cutting through the grey snow clouds,
    I weave the crimson thread through page of white,
    and vein that opened flows, while head is bowed

    in concentration, following the length,
    and patiently, each knot along the way,
    unknotted, now the fabric’s gaining strength,
    to tell the universe what I would say.

    After inertia comes the poet’s flood,
    word-woven cloth, soul-warped, and weft with blood.

  6. Andrew Kreider

    Opening Day (a drunken sonnet)

    The forty thousand starting to arrive
    On Sheffield, Waveland, Clark and Addison
    Seem hardly bothered that they have not won
    A pennant here since nineteen forty-five
    Or that there’s almost nobody alive
    Who still remembers losing only one
    Game in their last World Series winning run,
    A triumph younger players can’t revive.
    These faithful souls bedecked in Cubby blue
    Have numbed themselves to losing every spring
    Through regular consumption of a large
    Amount of Old Style, such a friendly brew
    It lets them drown the score by bellowing:
    Holy Cow! Da-da-da-da-da-daaaaaaa. Charge!

  7. Uche Ogbuji


    Not often round these long-forsaken parts
    Do strangers stroll in seeking formal fare.
    I’ve manned these kitchens, fighting slow despair,
    To serve the rare punter with scrumptious arts—
    Iambs at playful march as apertif,
    Subtle caesura garnishing end-stops,
    A soup of trope reduced from hand-picked crops,
    And salad of the choicest rhyming leaf,
    The entrée and the main served up with beer.
    By fives, by fourteen but in relaxed ranks—
    Variety is the sweet for even cranks,
    The spice dashed from old salt-shaker’s peer.
    But when I greet the patron will he quail
    To find chef ain’t the usual dead white male?

    © Uche Ogbuji 2011

  8. Maxie Steer

    My Soul to Leap

    “Your eyes don’t dream as well as they used to,” she said,
    her voice growing less childlike with each word.
    I blinked, shaking selfish thoughts from my head,
    regarding the gentle flourish of a passing bird.

    “Ah, my dear, I have been deterred,” I replied,
    “Dreaming eyes know less of heartbreak and solitude.”
    “But mama, if you stop won’t your soul just die?”
    Perhaps, I started to say, but sunshine changed my attitude

    “Do you know how to resurrect a soul from waking sleep?”
    Her eyes grew to the size of curiosity as I spoke.
    “You simply shake it awake with a glorious leap
    and the dreams inside will come true and explode!”

    She nodded with faith and jumped up from the grass,
    leading our souls into dancing as the clouds blew past.

  9. Maxie Steer


    With parched regret now I of you do write
    You left too soon, not without love or debt,
    I break my heart and wish for your reply
    For there you lie still and secure in death.

    But pine do I for your thoughts on living
    With claim to your son’s heart, both the prize
    And cause for forced sanity and forgiving
    A treasure I chase like beams of sunrise.

    His recount is fuel to my fantasy
    His memory of you alive with a sigh
    Knowing we will never meet, such vacancy
    Fastens my soul to desire more of life

    I’ll dust your space in the chamber you’d flown
    And prepare his heart for that early dawn

  10. Tracy Davidson

    Shall I Compare You to a Chocolate Egg?
    (with apologies to William Shakespeare)

    Shall I compare you to a chocolate egg?
    Though you aren’t as tasty, I have to say.
    As much as I enjoy licking your leg,
    It’s not the yummy highlight of my day.
    I like to sit and savour all alone
    The rich milky goodness in every chunk
    Of Dairy Milk and Galaxy. And I own
    They’re much nicer to swallow than your spunk.
    I always save the chocolate shell for last.
    I nibble on each piece and lick and suck.
    But all too soon the satisfaction’s past
    And you’re still sat there begging for a fuck.
    Though all that chocolate’s made my poor head ache,
    I just lie back and rest and dream of Flake.

  11. Taylor Graham


    “Robot Subs Seek a Downed Plane’s Secrets.”
    He worries the spoon in his oatmeal over headlines.
    His napkin, an origami bird. This world more
    mysterious than a wreck at the bottom of the sea.
    Underwater deeps. His mind, he jokes, down-under.
    Mathilda waltzes into memory. Matty his wife
    who was and will be. He dog-ears the morning’s
    news. The math of cooking oatmeal: how many
    flattened grains of oats, how many grains of salt
    to water. And how do you compute, when one grain
    isn’t equal to the other? Wild-oats silver-gold
    in sun. Oat grains rolled and flattened by seasons.
    Robots will cook our breakfast, harvest our lives.
    Set down the spoon, the folded paper of his mind.

  12. Justine Hemmestad

    After reading the April Poetry Challenge guidelines I felt I should clarify that I wrote my sonnet entry specifically for this challenge, but I had never written a sonnet before so I also put it on my writing site for opinions: http://www.authorsden.com/visit/viewpoetry.asp?AuthorID=122310&id=290709 I’m sorry if I broke the rules but I just wanted to be clear that I didn’t write it prior to this challenge and I wrote it specifically for this challenge. Thanks.

  13. Taylor Graham


    How shall I begin anew with this cat?
    Yellow-olive eyed with pupils huge, black
    as the garage – boxes, tools and what-knack
    stacked and oh, running down the rake, a rat.
    By luck inherited, this declawed cat
    pisses carpet, stares at me. I stare back.
    In January, love is what we lack –
    I hate this cat and, even more, the rat.
    How shall we begin? What redeems a world
    starting with garage and all the household
    (cat and rat) and clutter. I’ve lived too long
    to fancy fairytales and tabbies curled
    about my ankles. Haven’t I been told
    to stroke the cat? He glares. Dumb purr. Small song?

  14. Taylor Graham


    Is it my fault the bird just wouldn’t stay?
    I set out on the trail, it flew astray –
    song unrecorded and forgotten now.
    Which bird? We’ve study-skins in drawers. But how
    did it sing once? Sweet trill now lost somehow
    along with landscape, running water’s spill
    from here to there; how dawn broke sudden, shrill
    over Stonecut Mountain. Now, a landfill.
    Garbage gulls, the commonest sort of bird.
    These lists of species, scientific word
    for sparrow, thrush, wren. Not the song I heard
    once, then forgot, for granted. And now lost
    like memory. Man’s mind and body die
    with everything. A bird I once saw fly.

  15. Connie L. Peters

    Anticipating Spring

    Anticipating spring past winter’s gloom
    Goodbye to stark blacks, snow whites, dusky grays
    We watch for yellow buttercups in bloom
    And bask in warm spring breeze and sunny rays

    We spot our first bright robin and tell friends
    And deeply breathe fresh blossom-scented air
    Delighting in vibrant colors rain sends
    Red tulips wake within their beds with flair

    The farmers watch for newborn calves and lambs
    And children wait for warmer days to swim
    They run and play in parks as happy clams
    Adults escape outside, leaving the gym

    Expectantly we go to church and sing
    The new life Jesus gives is just like spring

  16. Dave Malone

    Hi Robert,
    This was great fun! Like George Meredith, I’m fond of the 16-line sonnet!

    Where the Only Figure That Figures
    Dave Malone

    Your naked body rolls
    With much crisper prose
    Than a bar full of novelists
    With brains as soft as pugilists.

    Your naked body curves
    Reveals your skin hors d’oeuvres
    Trumping those literary foxes
    And deaf-mute boxers.

    Your naked body dips
    Into thigh and rosehips
    Where I’m the only one
    To make you come undone.

    Your naked body proves
    Writing and boxing lose (science and mathematics, too)
    Because your body charts a course
    Where the only figure that figures is yours.

  17. Taylor Graham


    scratch at the door. Outside, leaden evening
    brooding storm. Our dogs sleep snug inside,
    not growling. Sheep bedded down in barn;
    sheep don’t scratch at doors. What’s this

    summons? A branch wind-flung from oaks
    about to hurl off limbs? We’re hunkered in
    with candles, batteries, stew in cans, kibble,
    hay in loft. All this week, the weatherman

    has warned: expect the worst. The worst?
    Could it be the Bantu Palayi, mythic monster
    at the door? Or simple snow? Do we make
    fables to give name to the uncertain night

    that’s coming? Or, to make momentous
    whatever’s waiting on the other side?

  18. Taylor Graham


    Is Milton’s Lycidas quite dead?
    I’ve scanned each line of stately meter,
    the fields where Muses’ flocks have fed,
    I’ve checked the Internet – a cheater.

    As if a rhyme scheme could perform
    a miracle for long-drowned King.
    But no, these modern times heap scorn
    on song unless it’s rap or swing.

    And though we might lament what’s gone –
    the classical allusions, tight
    control of form – our workday dawn
    will serve us coffee creamed with lite.

    For verse, some mumbled pap of words.
    A song? I’ll listen for the birds.

  19. Tracy Davidson

    Loch Ness

    A monster lurks in the depths of Loch Ness.
    Or at least that’s the story I was told
    when once taken there by my Great Aunt Bess.
    I even dipped a toe in, feeling bold.
    I wasn’t afraid. I wanted a pet,
    and thought a monster would do very well.
    I imagined my teacher getting upset
    when I took it to school for show and tell.
    I waited and watched but no monster came.
    Great Auntie bought me a toy one instead,
    saying she knew it wasn’t quite the same,
    but the real thing wouldn’t fit under my bed.
    Though only age six I knew she was right,
    but oh how I wish I’d had just one sight.


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