Writing Exercise: Prose Sonnet

by ajanefountas

Constraint can lead to beautiful things! Here the constraint is a prose sonnet, a fixed form narrative. The following is a variation of the form originated by Bruce Holland Rogers.

Prose Sonnet: A narrative of fourteen sentences. The final word of each sentence slant rhymes with the last word of another sentence corresponding to the pattern ababcdcdefefgg. The last two sentences must summarize the story, or cast the story in an ironic light, or subvert the story, or do anything else that constitutes a strategic shift.

Write a prose sonnet. No line breaks (though you might want to compose with line breaks to follow the rhyming pattern). Please post your results in the comments section if you’d like to share!

Some first lines in case you’d like a starter:

  • On Mondays, I like to do math.
  • Our mother wears elephant pants to bed.
  • It was a hot and hairy day.

Sonnet for Our Father
by Angela Jane Fountas

Our mother wears elephant pants to bed. She climbs in, her legs flapping. She goes to bed when we are bad. She says, “You kids.” We say, “You’re flippin’.” When she isn’t mad, she sleeps on the couch. Our father left before we knew him. She says, “He was cold to the touch.” We say, “Like a side of ham?” And she laughs, and says, “Yeah, that pig.” We laugh, all three, and make pig noses. Then our mom, cheered up, says, “I think I’ll make a pie.” “Who will grind the flour and churn the butter?” she says. But on the inside it hurts, inside her and us. We’d rather have a father, because everyone else does.