When I learned that the literary journal Able Muse had accepted my poem, I not only felt like dancing, I’m told by my family that I did, in fact, do a little happy dance. My sonnet, “Visage,” appears in the Winter 2015 issue, just out, and also in the online publication (complete with a voice clip of me reading the sonnet–scroll down a bit.)
Able Muse is one of the journals I most admire. Based in San Jose, California, it began in 1999 as an online journal published twice a year. After ten years, the founding editor, Alex Pepple, expanded it to include a print version of rare physical beauty, while continuing to publish a companion digital version. Each issue contains poetry (mostly metrical) along with art and photography, and fiction and non-fiction (including reviews, essays, and interviews). To learn more, and to subscribe, click HERE. (A subscription would make a wonderful gift for a literary friend or for yourself.)
At the Able Muse site, you can also learn about their press, their book prize, their anthology, and their companion forum, Eratosphere, designed to encourage respectful and insightful comments on poetry as it grows from inspiration (Erato is the muse of lyric poetry) into polished form.
My own work can sometimes take a long time to polish. For “Visage”–the one just published in Able Muse–it took rather longer than usual. I wrote the first version of my sonnet when I was in my early twenties, and I have kept revising it over the years. It is in response to William Shakespeare’s sonnet #73, which goes like this:
That time of year though mayest in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruin’d choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou see’st the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west,
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death’s second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see’st the glowing of such fire
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the death-bed whereon it must expire
Consum’d with that which it was nourished by.
This thou perceiv’st, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long.
Shakespeare’s masterful work is one I love. Over the years, I have memorized it and enjoyed it, but I don’t always agree with it. My own sonnet is a response to this one that was written from the point of view of a middle-aged man. Neither sonnet is the whole truth, of course, since getting older is a many-sided and universal process. For me, the truth is certainly riddled with duality: I love my life as it is now–all its shapes and contours–and I also struggle to accept certain changes (both internal and external).
I do know that I wouldn’t be twenty-three again for anything! And I am glad that I kept faith with this poem, kept tweaking it here and there, and that I lived long enough to see it published in such a multi-faceted jewel of a journal.