Slip into the Prada of Poems?


Remember Angela? Her original Glass Slipper post had a different opening, which I trimmed out for the sake of space. But I kept it, because it was so cheeky I just knew I’d want to be sharing it with you eventually. Today’s the day. [You’re on, Angela :) ]


So you want to be a sonneteer?

To prove yourself mistress of wit and master of sass?

To cultivate your inborn ability to think up, slap down, and grand slam fourteen-liners like it’s nobody’s business—and live to tell the tale?

Call a sonnet anything, but don’t call it subtle. The sonnet’s aim is plain: to woo them and wow them, to take no prisoners, to claim and keep her readers’ hearts with nothing but big sound and a little sense. She’s a diva, and as with every soprano joke you’ve ever heard, what she wants is all of everyone’s attention.

The sonnet is small, despite its big voice, and its diminutive size may make it seem fragile. But the sonnet is a shoe your feet would kill to fill, so why not?—try one on for size, walk the floor, dance a two-step, and see how it feels. My guess is that once you break it in, one sonnet won’t be enough—you’ll find yourself morphing into the Imelda Marcos of poets, the pages of your notebook lined with sonnets of every hue and make—Petrarchan, Shakespearian, Spenserian, Miltonic, Versace (okay, there’s no Versace Sonnet)—yet each of them bearing your signature stride and strut.

— Angela Alaimo O’Donnell

As it turns out, I struggled to wear the sonnet, but it didn’t quite fit my feet. My younger daughter shared my pain, while my older daughter wooed and wowed us at high-speed, composing sonnets like they were some kind of oversized Lego-blocks project: so easy that any three year old could do it.

While I think it’s important to discipline myself to try on the shoes of various poem forms, I understand that personality and brain-wiring somehow play a part. I may be sassy, but I’m no sonnet master, and I suspect I never will be.

However, that doesn’t exempt me from joining the effort. So, here’s my glass slipper sonnet. Complete with the “ouch” I felt while trying to compose. It must be said that the gracious James Cummins gave me some advice about punctuation, which slowed the sonnet down and turned the final line (which he also suggested I rewrite) into a statement. The sonnet is better for it. (Thanks, James :) )

Upon Learning that Fur Was Lost in Translation
(and then learning that it wasn’t, but too late for this sonnet)

What did fine French Cinder elles wear besides
glass, what high class did they hope to flaunt to
the ball, what gall muster towards, “I do”?
Did they eat ash, secret, pretend inside,
ache for privilege to take midnight steed ride
to prince, to price, to prove flamed thoughts, undo
braided tresses, guesses? Did they have clues
about the way ever-after collides

in fives, in tens, muttered end lines tight shut,
a fight to rise between odd hours ticking,
tripping like a da-dum tapped short, slight cut
into small rooms, I am‘s that jam, turning
coated slippers towards spondee minutes?
Where we pace time’s seconds on silk shirred string.


Post by L.L. Barkat. Visit L.L. at Seedlings in Stone, for more on writing, poetry, art and life.

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  1. says

    Angela is a wonderful writer! Thank you for walking back those snippets.

    It’s been good practice to try to stuff a foot into a glass slipper sonnet and try to keep it from breaking stride or rushing off with another iamb that’s gotten a little too accented for its own good.

  2. L. L. Barkat says

    Isn’t she wonderful? I hope we’ll get her again here. And it’s not just the writing, but the terrific spirit and warm encouragement of her presence in the comment box. :)

    I’m going to keep writing sonnets, even if I ruin a whole bunch of shoes. It’s good practice, as you say, and I find that I do more revisions (even weeks later) with sonnets. Not sure why. Maybe it’s that “small room” that just keeps calling my attention to things.

  3. says

    Thanks, Laura, for posting the original intro to the Glass Slipper Sonnet piece (cheeky? moi?)–and thanks, Maureen, for reading & enjoying it.

    I love this “Versace” Sonnet, (a first!) with all of its rich internal rhyme (as well as unexpected end-rhymes), and the persistent, percussive alliteration (assonance and consonance, too!) that permits the poem to tap-dance across the floor (elegantly, of course). I keep reading (and re-reading) and find some new fun thing each time through.

    As Mr. Versace might say (were he still among us), Mille Grazie!

  4. says

    Angela, thanks. :) I figured I might as well try to take advantage of the pain I felt at trying to write the sonnet, and fold it right in. :) (That tap dance you hear is the constant raising of the feet to try to relieve the pinch of standing in those shoes! :)

    And I loved Glynn’s take on the Glass Slipper sonnet :)

  5. says

    A Prince Swears by His Label ~ Glass Slipper 2

    The Prince’s valets amid bright scheming
    Devised and bid all maidens near and fair
    Attend a carnival where redeeming
    Old shoes for new might net those two paired rare.

    Designer Shoe Warehouse did make the call
    Which ladies might the Prada not resist
    And Gucci cause to swoon, but glass from ball
    No mate it found, though plenty did assist

    To push and cram feet small and big, the last
    It could not take nor stretch. That Prince, so glum,
    Himself did cheers with purchase made and fast.
    Back valets then on drawing board placed thumbs.

    A label such a difference made to Prince
    He Reeboks wore on hunt and camped convinced.


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