Poetry Friday – A Striving Spanish Sonnet

It’s Friday! Time for Poetry Friday. Thank you to Kat Apel, who is hosting. You will be rewarded with goodness if you stop by and read her sweet snail and clever cat poems. She even started a new hashtag #petpicpoem. Alas, there are no pets in my house, but I may consider a snail pet.

This week I had to go back to last September’s Google Classroom archive and watch a first quarter sixth grade lesson at my school. I was doing research to see what pre-skills I need to include in my summer tutoring for a student going into grade 6 at our school next year. In the first and only lesson so far that I’ve watched, the students were writing a sonnet! There were my former fifth grade babies. Yikes! I know for a fact some of them were struggling quietly with that assignment, but as I looked around the Zoom room, I realized that many of them were also flourishing in this experience.

What was the hardest form I asked my students to write last year? I wondered. We wrote free verse, haikus, acrostics, metaphor poems, Fibonacci poems, and couplets. Some others too, but nothing as scary as a sonnet. I thought about my own sonnet experience. Can I even write a sonnet, I wondered? The last one I remember writing was in ninth grade. So, after watching that lesson, I wrote this sonnet. (If it even is! Haha! I didn’t even consider meter.)

Learning Spanish on Duolingo
Language learning is not easy
Duolingo helps me realize
Just how much my brain is breezy
True expression, my fancied prize
Even when I spend hours in study
I only make a pinch of progress
What’s missing is talking with a buddy
For now, Duo is the one I impress
I can buy a red dress: barato or caro
I can find a baño and get a table for dos
But could I help in one’s sorrow?
Would I ever speak to get close?
But like the tortoise, steady and slow,
I’ll build a foundation on which to grow

Today’s Poetry Friday host is Kathryn Apel at her blog, Thank you, Kat!

12 thoughts on “Poetry Friday – A Striving Spanish Sonnet

  1. Oh – yes, the sonnet IS tricky. It tied my head in knots first time I tried it – and though I’ve written a number more since then, it is NOT my natural poetry voice! (I collated some of mine for a PF post way back in 2017 (https://katswhiskers.wordpress.com/2017/03/10/revising-sonnets).

    I think your topic/theme is perfect for your sonnet. (Or the sonnet is the perfect vehicle for your topic.🙃) Great build to that powerful third verse – and especially; ‘But could I help in one’s sorrow?’.

    1. Wow, Kat, thank you for reading and commenting. I learned so much from your post. You are a sonnet writer! My next step will be trying to tackle the meter in this one, or another one. I love what you said about my topic being a good for a sonnet. I never really knew that, until I read this by your friend Di Esmond: “a challenge which is answered by the couplet, a sort of a summation and tying up of loose threads.” I may have kind of done that! Thank you for the encouraging words and for leaving the link to your blog post. I especially liked the first one: “Sonnet! Away you evil, vile thing!”

  2. This is a wonderful sonnet. I haven’t written many and they are quite a challenge. Any rhyming form is tough for me. I can’t believe 6th graders are required to write one. Poetry is barely touched as a subject here.
    My favorite line is “Just how much my brain is breezy.” That’s me when it comes to a new language.

    1. Thank you, Margaret, for your sweet encouragement, reading and commenting so often here. Isn’t that heartbreaking to think students wouldn’t get to write poems? I’m glad your students have you at least the gifted students are becoming poets!

  3. Hey! You did it! I must confess to not enjoying sonnet writing. Sonnets, villanelles…oh, they are hard for my little brain. But, I love the topic you chose. It gave you all kinds of extra vowel sounds to play with and it worked well! But, asking 6th graders to write a sonnet?! I’m thinking that might scare a kid off poetry for life. Yikes!

    1. Thank you, Linda. Yes, I agree adding those Spanish words made the rhyming a breeze. I should have added them in every stanza!

  4. Denise, you did it. I enjoyed your questioning and the resolve at the end of your sonnet. I can’t imagine how you and your students struggled with this form. I shy away from sonnet writing but you dove in.

    1. Yes, it wasn’t my students any longer who were struggling. I hope the teacher wasn’t too rough on them. I think that is a lot to ask of an English learner beginning sixth grader!

  5. A Duolingo sonnet! That’s great. As a perennial Spanish learner, I could really appreciate your poem.

    1. Susan, thanks! I am gaining so much empathy for language learners and users! And those who are fluent in so many languages. I have a friend who occasionally will use a word and then ask me, “Is that French or English for that word?” She speaks French, English, Armenian, Arabic, and bits and pieces of other languages!

  6. Denise, “For now, Duo is the one I impress” made me laugh! But then these two lines:
    But could I help in one’s sorrow?
    Would I ever speak to get close?
    Oh…and isn’t that the whole point of language and communication. What a beautiful turn from witty to thoughtful!

    1. Thank you so much, Laura. Yes, indeed. It is a long road to communication. One of my main reasons for learning Spanish is to gain more empathy for my English language learner students!

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