Put Chaos into Fourteen Lines: The Sonnet

Put Chaos into Fourteen Lines: The Sonnet

Explore wild, untamed sonnets as inspiration for original new poems of your own in the world’s greatest verse form.

What is a sonnet? A little song, a box of tricks, a square of canvas you can fill with anything? 

This is a one-day whirlwind tour of the world’s greatest verse form. We’ll begin by looking under the hood of classic poems by famous and less-famous writers who shaped the sonnet as we know it today, from an angry earl beheaded by Henry VIII to the woman who invented the Romantic sonnet from inside a prison cell.  

We’ll see how the sonnet’s tool-kit works in each of these poems – the twist of the Volta, the heartbeat of rhythm, the different moods created by different rhyme-schemes – and try out these techniques ourselves. 

By the end of lunchtime, you’ll have mastered the “rules” – and by the end of the afternoon, you’ll have found a hundred ways to break them, as we explore wild, untamed sonnets by writers who push the form in strange and wondrous new directions. 

We’ll break bread with great sonneteers of the past and present – Henry Howard, Edna St Vincent Millay, Gwendoline Brooks, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Shane McCrae, and Terrance Hayes. Shakespeare might get a look in, if he’s lucky. 

1 full-day session, running 10.30am–4.30pm (BST), on 7 October 2023. This course will take place at Somerset House, Strand, London, WC2R 1LA. 

To apply for a concession rate, please send relevant documentation showing your eligibility for one of our concessions to administ[email protected]. Conditions of eligibility are detailed here. More information about how our In-Person Courses work can be found on the In-Person Courses page. If you have any questions or wish to be added to the waiting list of a sold-out course, please email [email protected]. 

Image credit: . liane .

About Tristram Fane Saunders View Profile

Tristram Fane Saunders is The Telegraph‘s poetry critic, and the editor of Edna St Vincent Millay: Poems and Satires. His first collection of poems, Before We Go Any Further, was published by Carcanet in June 2023. He is the author of five pamphlets, including the New Poets’ Prize-winning Woodsong. His poems have appeared in The TLS, Poetry London, and The White Review, and he has reviewed poetry for Radio 4’s Front Row. 

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