Soup part 3: for the love of a sonnet
In the Fall of 2013 I decided I would write a sonnet a day. I love sonnets, but after only a month or so, I stopped writing them. Even before that fall I wrote sonnets all the time, but since then I honestly haven’t written a single one. Except for a re-write of one of Shakespeare’s for a class, but that doesn’t count.
I never really thought about why I stopped writing sonnets. I still wrote poetry, so it never really occurred to me why something I had previously been so passionate about had just kind of drifted off.
My New Years resolution this year was to re-focus. Re-focus my attitude towards joy, re-focus and re-center myself… I can go into more detail another time about why I chose this and why I find it necessary to re-focus, but my first goal for re-focusing was to write every single day.
Writing is something I used to do much more often than I do now, so I figured a good way to find myself again, and to re-center would be to start writing more often again. So I made this my goal for the month of January.
I went searching for an old notebook I could jot some musings in, and I found my old sonnet journal. I thought, “well why don’t I start those up again?”
I opened the journal up with the intention of immediately taking pencil to a fresh page, but curiosity got the best of me. These were the sonnets I didn’t transfer to a computer to be edited and revised and polished. These were raw first drafts, practice poems written in moments of inspiration and then forgotten.
So I started to read. Among the sonnets were partial unfinished sonnets, letters unmeant to be and never sent, a few other free verse poems, and everything in between. It was a collection of 20 or so compositions of unbrideled creativity and expression.
I enjoyed seeing the progression of my thoughts. Ideas and emotions that I was comfortable with found themselves weaved into sonnets, while ideas and emotions that were confusing or conflicting found themselves in free verse and letter form. I found it fascinating to have this more symbolic peek into my past.
But then I reached a poem that made me really stop and think. A poem in free verse, written in script difficult to decipher, and language that was simple and abrupt. It was a poem about the guy who had emotionally abused me and sexually assaulted me (which I did not remember happening at the time I wrote the poem.)
The next entry was a never sent letter to the guy… and then the journal was blank. That’s where it stopped. And that was when the sonnets stopped. I never wrote another sonnet… for 3 whole years I didn’t write sonnets.
Despite not remembering the full extent of what had happened to me, I now often recall evidence from the last 3 years of daily repercussions.
I was impacted. And I was aware of a lot of that impact. But there were so many things connected to that experience that I didn’t realize were connected –until now.
Such as sonnets. I stopped writing the poetry that had moved my soul for so long.
That Fall of 2013 I fell apart academically. I started missing more and more classes. So I switched my anxiety meds and applied for accommodations. The accommodations allowed me to drop classes while still maintaining status as a full time student. But even with the new meds and the lightened schedule, I failed my first class ever –and to make matters worse it was my Shakespeare class. Shakespeare… the inspiration for my sonnets, the playwrite responsible for my love affair with plays, one of the central figures to my passion for literature –and I failed the class devoted to him and his works. And almost every work we read in that course was a work I had already read and was familiar with.
I barely scraped by in my other classes, and by the end of the semester I had dropped my double major in English and Italian (which I would’ve finished in just 3-4 more semesters) and became a pre-communication disorders major. Something I had absolutely zero coursework completed for. I don’t know why I gave up on the thing I had known I wanted to study for so long.
I always wondered… how did I go from straight As and Bs in my freshman year to the next year failing and barely making C’s taking classes I LOVED and felt natural in.
How did I go from A’s in university English courses meant for students two years ahead of me to failing a Shakespeare course in which I was already intimately familiar with the material?
I’ve often thought back on that semester. The semester that changed the course of my college education. The semester that ultimately led to giving up on my dream.
That semester I thought I would graduate in a couple years with a double major in English and Italian. That I would go on to get a masters in Italian literature and I would study Petrarch sonnets and Italian operas. I would sing literature in a language I loved.
But my world was turned upside down. I questioned everything I was. I questioned the core of who I was, and in the process I lost who I was.
I finally know what happened. It’s the same reason I stopped writing my sonnets.
I don’t know why my inner writer was impacted so devastatingly. Perhaps it was because the guy was also an English major who I had only met through past English classes.
I don’t know why it happened, but I do know I’m finished letting him impact my life so strongly.
I’m writing sonnets again. I’m re-focusing, I’m finding myself again. I’m re-discovering who I am. I’ll sing Italian arias, even if I’m not fluent. I’ll read Petrarch sonnets, even if I have to use the translations to understand the originals. I’ll come back to Shakespeare, become a self-taught scholar of his works. Re-read and analyze like I wanted to do three years ago. And when I go back and finish my degree someday, I will go back to finish my English degree, my true passion.
I won’t let some base, cruel person get in the way of my art anymore.