Fickle Sonnets    
Geoffrey Young    


Our Price: $12.00

From Small Press Review, July-August 2005.
By Mark Terrill

Fickle Sonnets
By Geoffrey Young, drawings by Donald Baechler
2005, 135 pp

The inspiration from the title of Geoffrey Young’s latest collection came in part from listening to Jackie McLean’s old Blue Note record, “A Fickle Sonance.” The inspiration soon morphed into an entire concept, and Young found himself going back through his files in search of poems that he could accommodate to the fourteen-line format of the conventional sonnet.

The process of reworking and rewriting has rendered these 115 poems into a strong, seamless collection, bound together by much more than the common thread of form. Young’s newly-turned sonnets are consistently ultra-urbane and sleekly idiomatic, yet never superficial or merely postmodern surface-language. Young has something of the erudite irony and witty charm of Tony Towle, as well as the stylistic elegance and tightly wrought syntax of Charles North. The Fickle Sonnets are informed by a multitude of takes on art, music, baseball, relationships, domestic life, dreams and the mass media. Some are straightforward narratives, others are pastiche-collages reminiscent of John Ashbery or even Ted Berrigan. The humorous and the serious appear in alternating frequency. One of the most stunning and arresting pieces in the entire collection is the deeply evocative “The Very Darkness,” here in its entirety:

Do you remember
your early twenties
feeling a general
desire to flow into

all things, to lose
identity in landscape,
in the bamboo grove,
in the night sounds in a

country house, to feel
the tiny cell of the
central pronoun melt in
a guttering flame, to want

to become the very
darkness lit by fireflies?

“Rewriting is writing,” Young says in the brief introduction. And like a DJ’s successful remix of an already popular song, the Fickle Sonnets are a testimony to the fact that not all works of art are intrinsically immutable or finite. Here Geoffrey Young has shown us that the art of the rewrite is art itself.

Copyright 2003 Geoffrey Young. All Rights Reserved