Review Editor and Hampden-Sydney College Poet-In-Residence Nathaniel Perry
For the 2016 Hampden-Sydney Poetry Review, Perry gave poets a challenge: in only one hour, write a sonnet about one of five topics (a walk, water, silence, frames, or containers).
"I really thought a lot of poets would be
There was some wiggle room. Perry let the individual poets decide for themselves what a sonnet is. "It doesn't have to be 14 lines in a particular rhyme scheme if they don't want it to be." He adds, however, "That's how I would have done it. Some people interpreted it rather loosely."
To his surprise, many of the poets stayed within the constraints of the traditional definition of a sonnet.
Nearly all of the submissions for the sonnets-only issue have been received and Perry has begun working with his four student editors on the production of the physical book, which will be released in the late fall. Working on the Review gives Perry's poetry students an even greater appreciation for and understanding of the genre.
"Most of the time, the students think like a lot of people
Perry also says that rumors of the "death of poetry" are overblown. He says poetry may have a small place in our culture but it is a secure place, a place where we as a society return when necessary, often following a major tragedy. He points to the resurgence in popularity of W.H. Auden's poem "September 1, 1939" as Americans were recovering from the terrorist attacks in September 2001.
The endurance of The Hampden-Sydney Poetry Review is a testament to the security of poetry's place in American culture, and Perry hopes the combination of classic form and whimsy in this sonnets-only issue will remind readers that poetry is both accessible and enjoyable.
"Poetry really, more than other forms of art, is a populist thing. All you need is a pencil and a piece of paper to engage in poetry. You don't need ballet slippers or a huge canvas or even lessons. You can just go."
The Hampden-Sydney Poetry Review will be available in December and can be ordered online.