Daytime never ends (PoemTalk #63)

Laynie Browne, "Daily Sonnets"

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PoemTalkers Jessica Lowenthal, Lee Ann Brown, and Sueyeun Juliette Lee gathered with Al Filreis to talk about five poems from Laynie Browne’s Daily Sonnets, which was published by Counterpath Press of Denver in 2007. We chose two of Browne’s “fractional sonnets,” two of the sonnets in which the talk of her children is picked up partly or wholly as lines of the poem, and one of her “personal amulet” sonnets. These are, to be specific: “Six-Fourteenths Donne Sonnet” [MP3], “Two-Fourteenths Sonnet” [MP3], “In Chinese astrology you are a snake” [MP3], “I’m a bunny in a human suit” [MP3], and “Protector #2: Your Personal Amulet” [MP3]. The sonnet after Donne is a constrained rewriting of a “holy” sonnet: “I am a little world made cunningly.”

From her daily life, Browne derives a sense of writing written uncunningly, not so much by repudiating the made autotelic perfection of the traditional poem — of the sonnet in particular as a (holy) form — as by implying that in reality we don’t live our writing lives that way.  Her unsequential sonnet sequence explores the daily influxes of the moments of which and in which the poems are composed. She makes the ordinary extraordinary. There's a conceptualism here, and Jessica, Lee Ann and Juliette discuss it: the procedural constraint was to treat the regular work of making a book of sonnets as a specific daily habit or practice. “Finally,” Browne has written (in the book’s afterword), “after many years of controlled circumstances, the allowing in of all voices, all time.” The sonnets are acts of collaboration “with the bumpiness of days passing.” Browne’s two children, noted in the dedication, are the makers of some of those bumps. “To Benjamin and Jacob,” the dedication runs, “my daily sonneteers / inventors of the ‘real time sonnet’ and ‘dailiness.’” (Above from left to right: Lee Ann Brown with Miranda, Sueyeun Juliette Lee, and Jessica Lowenthal with Alice.)

Here, appended to Browne’s PennSound page, is the text of our poems: PDF. Thanks to the work of Anna Zalokostas, all of Browne’s various readings from Daily Sonnets are identified as such on the PennSound page.

This episode of PoemTalk was directed and engineered by Chris Martin, produced by Al Filreis, and expertly edited, as always, by Steve McLaughlin.