7 comments

  1. Hello Mr. Dietrich,

    First of all, I truly enjoy your work. I tracked down a copy of Krypton Nights and read it and The Assumption all in one day.

    I was wondering how you begin to write a sonnet sequence like the ones found in Krypton Nights and The Assumption. Is there a “first sonnet” or are they written all as a single strand?

  2. Mr. Dietrich,

    It’s interesting that you chose to end and begin the parts in your book The Assumption with similar if nearly identical lines. Why did you do this and what effect did you intend for this to have on your readers?

    -C. Allen

  3. Hi Joshua,

    Well, in the case of Krypton Nights, I began with one sonnet that became several. And. They. All. Sucked. So…I salvaged what lines I could (at, as I recall, Dr. Richardson’s suggestion) and pulled them together into one “first” sonnet that actually worked. The others spun out of the strength of the new first one.

    I suppose the primary notion of a crown is that it lives best as a menagerie, though each beast is its own brand of blood and bone and beating heart. In other words, crowns are, finally, one long poem of several parts, each part ideally discreet yet connected. I do have a problem, in general, writing anything short, be it poem or novel or…ahem…responses. So any form that allows me more room to bloviate is fabulous for me. However, the genius of the crown form is that it also forces brevity in the individual parts.

    As for The Assumption, I originally had in mind a play with six-seven voices. Once I realized I’m about as good at writing plays as I am at working on cars, I gave up, stole the idea from myself, and transformed the notion into a crown of crowns, each crown focused on a different voice. Each voice was meant to approach the notion of “visitation” from a different perspective. Thus, the range from “Skeptic” to “Believer.”

    If you look carefully at the sequence, you will see that the first poem of the first crown becomes the template from which all the subsequent crowns is built. I may try to point out the exact pattern in a later post.

    Great questions!

    Bryan

  4. Hi Christine,

    Well, the form of a crown dictates that the last line of the first sonnet become the first line of the second sonnet, and so on to the end where the first line of the first sonnet becomes the final line of the whole crown. Given that I’m working with a crown of crowns, I wanted to continue that principle with the seven sets of sonnets, but I didn’t want to repeat the same (first/last) line fourteen times.

    Thus, for the second crown, I picked up the second line of the first sonnet of the first crown as the first line of the first sonnet of the second crown…and so on. I also used subsequent lines as repetons after the ceasura in following first sonnets of each crown until all but the last line of the first sonnet of the first crown had been repeated. I then added that line as an extra last line to the last crown.

    Now, repeat after me, don’t try this at home.

    But seriously, the effect I suppose I wanted the repetition to have (the reason for choosing either a crown OR crown of crowns) is to show stylistically the similarity between apparently isolated or diametrically opposed points of view. I suppose the point is to question the notion of perspectival difference. We all have assumptions. We all believe. Just what that is that we believe appears to us as divergent from others, but I suspect it’s never as far from the one great world tree as we might want to believe.

    The philosophical stance, then, is less one of deconstruction than one of transcendentalism. We share the invisible eye that only thinks it sees differently. Our assumptions take us up, all of them. We are abducted by our dreams, all of us. And the vessel that comes for us, that devours us? It is always already the sublime whether it appears as a flaming chariot, a great wheel, a pillar of fire, an angel, or an alien spacecraft.

    My hope was that the form would solidify that stance, make it even clearler than the poems themselves.

    Bryan

  5. Mr. Dietrich,

    I was curious as to what advice you might have for how to know when a poem is complete. Is there a moment you could point to that you realized you had a complete work? Or is it, as Dr. Richardson has said, that a poem isn’t completed until it’s published and then you just let it be.

    As we are all in the revision process as the semester draws to a close, I feel like I personally could edit my own poems ad infinitum and never be satisfied.

  6. Hi Josh,

    So sorry to take so long to reply. The semester has been, to quote Bright Eyes, “A MAD HOUSE!”

    Anyway, I suspect my only answer would be very similar to Dr. Richardson’s, with one caveat: It’s probably not done even after it’s published.

    Remember that Whitman continued to work on Leaves of Grass up to the point he was on his deathded. Yeats tinkered with poems long after they’d been published. I imagine there are poets in the great beyond or in some alternate dimension still trying to send vibes our way to get it right, damn it. Perhaps this is the origin of the muse.

    So, no, there is no silver bullet to stop the oncoming werewolf of a poem. It will continue to bay at you every night, leave strange pentacle shapes in your readers’ palms, and make you fly into rages every full moon (sometimes every day BUT the full moon).

    I will say Dr. Richardson’s sense is right that at some point you just have to let it go. While that isn’t the same as saying it’s done, it’s at least a way to find peace. Of course then some damn gypsy shows up and…

    Oh well, there’s always a sequel.

    Bryan

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