Sonnet Exercise

I’ve been making an extra effort this year to create some new worksheets designed to teach basic, stand-alone concepts in my Introduction to Literary Study class.

Here’s a new worksheet to help students write a sonnet.  Below is the part they’re actually supposed to submit… after that I’ve included the text that explains the assignment. I’ve already taught the basic form of the sonnet, so this is a review, but I tried to make it stand on its own.  My goal is to teach the form, rather than to encourage or reward creative expression, but I also want students to have fun.

Suggestions?  Comments?

Workbook 2-2: Write a Sonnet                                           Name ____________________________
(Bring printout to class.)

This is a poem that I wrote; Eye Contact published it a few issues ago.


Your retro, old-skool little song enshrines
The unrelenting jackboot five-stress beat
Of heel-toe thumping heel-toe bumping feet
In fourteen rigid rhyming goose-step lines.
What talent’s there? I’ll never march; I swarm!
I curse your foolish rules, your chains that bind,
That dare to organize my off-beat mind;
For truly I don’t need no steenkin’ form.
Why pack and prune, revise, rework, rephrase
My unproof’d laundry list of angst or hate?
In beatless bliss I’ll blurt and bloviate
And vent my emo vices in cafés.
From boxy vises freed, such verse as mine
Shall flow like so much screw-top Wal-Mart wine.

  1. Scan the poem (identify the rhyme scheme and stress pattern). (Write on this page.)
  2. Note the “turning point” and identify the new idea. (Write on this page.)
  3. Identify the “main point” driven home in the final couplet. (On this page.)
  4. What can you conclude about the relationship between the imaginary speaker of the poem, and my own intentions as the author of the poem (and a teacher who asks students to write sonnets)? (Answer in a brief paragraph on the back.)


Part IIa:  Present your own original sonnet in the grid. You may write on a printout, or edit this file.

Part IIb:  Write a short paragraph (on the back) that explains how your poem demonstrates your knowledge of prosody (see Hamilton) and your ability to apply that knowledge in an original creative work. Explain any deliberate deviations from iambic pentameter.