Poem Spark Jan. 22-Feb. 5 – the Sonnenizio


I encountered my first Sonnenizio accidentally (reading a submission from a contributor), and fell in love with the idea of this form. It was only after I did some investigation did I learn that the form was invented by Kim Addonizio. A Sonnenizio appears in her book, What Is This Thing Called Love. I sent her an email about her poem, asking if she invented the form and she replied: “yes, it’s true I invented it.” In the email, she included a footnote on the poem:

Addonizio wrote:
Note: the sonnenizio was originated in Florence in the thirteenth century by Vanni Fucci as an irreverent form whose subject was usually the impossibility of everlasting love. Dante retaliated by putting Fucci into the seventh chasm of the Inferno as a thief. Originally composed in hendecasyllabics, the sonnenizio gradually moved away from metrical constraints and began to tackle a wider variety of subject matter. The sonnenizio is 14 lines long. It opens with a line from someone else’s sonnet, repeats a word from that line in each succeeding line of the poem, and closes with a rhymed couplet.

Upon further investigation on the internet, some sources claim she was inspired to invent the form because Billy Collins invented the Paradelle, a parody of the Villanelle. Apparently, as did Billy Collins for his Paradelle, Addonizio also invented the history for the Sonnenizio form (although she made no mention of this in her email).

Here is a lovely essay by Theresa Edwards about Addonizio’s poem, “Sonnenizio on a Line From Drayton”: Kim Addonizio’s Playful Repetition to Michael Drayton’s Sonnet. Here is a link to Drayton’s Sonnet: LXI of his sonnet series Idea.

By now, I’m sure you know what this week’s spark is: write a Sonnenizio! Every Sonnenizio opens with a line from someone else’s sonnet. A word from this first line is repeated in each succeeding line, then the poem closes with a rhymed couplet.

Here are some examples of other Sonnenizios:

Anna Evans Sonnenizio On A Line from Millay

Arlene Ang Sonnenizio on a Line from Wendy Cope

Here are some sonnets to use as a starting point:

Robert Lowell History

Rainer Maria Rilke Sonnet 6

E.E. Cummings Sonnets/Unrealities III.

Have fun! Be creative.

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