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Stephen Burt: Art of the Sonnet

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Date and time
Friday, May 21, 2010

Stephen Burt, Harvard professor of English, looks at one of the English language’s most beloved art forms and his new book, *The Art of the Sonnet.* Few poetic forms have found more uses than the sonnet in English, and none is now more recognizable. It is one of the longest-lived of verse forms, and one of the briefest. A mere 14 lines, fashioned by intricate rhymes, it is, as Dante Gabriel Rossetti called it, "a moment’s monument." From the Renaissance to the present, the sonnet has given poets a superb vehicle for private contemplation, introspection, and the expression of passionate feelings and thoughts. *The Art of the Sonnet * collects 100 exemplary sonnets of the English language (and a few sonnets in translation), representing highlights in the history of the sonnet, accompanied by short commentaries on each of the poems. The commentaries by Stephen Burt and his coauthor David Mikics offer new perspectives and insights, and, taken together, demonstrate the enduring as well as changing nature of the sonnet. The authors serve as guides to some of the most-celebrated sonnets in English as well as less-well-known gems by 19th and 20th century poets. Also included is a general introductory essay, in which the authors examine the sonnet form and its long and fascinating history, from its origin in medieval Sicily to its English appropriation in the sixteenth century to sonnet writing today in the US, the UK, and other English-speaking parts of the world.

Stephen Burt is Associate Professor of English at Harvard University. His previous books include Close Calls with Nonsense: Reading New Poetry, The Forms of Youth: Adolescence and 20th-Century Poetry, and Parallel Play.
David Mikics is the author of *Who Was Jacques Derrida?: An Intellectual Biography* and the co-author, with Stephen Burt, of *The Art of the Sonnet*.