In 1994, Wanda Coleman published American Sonnets, full of sonnets (14 lines, 10 syllables) that—among other things—don’t rhyme. The sonnets in Terrance Hayes’s American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin (2018) pay tribute to Coleman, and continue her project of experimentation with an old, often revered form. For Slate, Stephanie Burt writes about Hayes, American sonnets, and confinement: “Lyric poetry—the poet imagines—works by finding words for someone’s passions, which could also be your own: it can get you out of your one situation, your one body, your one life, though it will not literally free you from a literal jail.” Hayes’s sonnets may intentionally evoke feelings of confinement or discomfort in us, but they also contain the potential to lead toward liberation.
New releases this week include The Signature of All Things by Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert, which you can learn more about in Steve Almond’s review for the Times. Also out: The Hired Man by Aminatta Forna; The Pure Gold Baby by Margaret Drabble; Half the Kingdom by Lore Segal; The Night Guest by Fiona MacFarlane; The Daylight Gate by Jeanette Winterson; Personae by Hall of Famer Sergio de la Pava; and The Karl Kraus Project by Jonathan Franzen.
This week in book-related internet graphics: Penguin has created an interactive map of literary genres, complete with some very creatively shaped “countries”. As Electric Literature points out, “the fact that the map is aimed at current self-publishing authors explains why YA is it’s own continent while genres like Gothic fiction don’t exist.”