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The Sonnets
Sandra Simonds

November 2014
Trade Paper Original
ISBN: 978-0-9826587-7-2
80 pp. | $15.00


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On the 50th anniversary of Ted Berrigan’s and the 25th anniversary of Bernadette Mayer’s, Bloof Books is thrilled to publish The Sonnets by Sandra Simonds.

As Simonds has written, “There’s no consensus on how to do it. Does it have to have a traditional rhyme scheme? Does it need to be written in iambic pentameter? Does it have to be about unrequited love? Does it even need to be fourteen lines? Ask twenty poets these questions, and you’ll get two-hundred answers. And simply calling a sonnet a sonnet doesn’t really make it a sonnet.” The Sonnets is this poet’s exploration of the tradition, as well her testing of the (probably apocryphal) remark made by William Carlos Williams that it’s a “fascist form.”

As for the classic theme of love: “It’s easy for me to fool myself into thinking that I’m in love so sometimes I get all tangled up in love triangles, squares and octagons,” Simonds explains. “Maybe it’s a poet’s disease.… In real life relationships people are always vying for power but in the sonnet, it’s the poet and the sonnet that are in a struggle to the death. The problem is that the poet is at a huge disadvantage because the sonnet has the history OF THE SONNET on its side and almost always wins.”

Each of the sonnets here indeed has fourteen lines (and each section fourteen sonnets). Some of the poems rhyme. Most do talk of love, as it burgeons and fades. But as always with Simonds’s work, the reader should come to The Sonnets expecting to be upended.

Sandra Simonds is the author of two previous collections of poetry, Warsaw Bikini (Bloof Books, 2008) and Mother Was a Tragic Girl (Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 2012). Her poems have appeared in The Best American Poetry 2014, the American Poetry Review, Fence, Poetry, and other journals.

Sample poems from The Sonnets:

Three sonnets at Ilk Journal

"Red Wand" at



Sandra Simonds’s sonnets are so good I couldn’t stop reading them. Though they skirt the surface (young mother, wife, shopping mall, classroom), they are driven by a seeming impulsiveness and a bravura, as well as a kind of scientific lyricism, that put you in touch with the cosmic abyss. But it’s pointless to try to describe these sonnets. You need to experience for yourself their acuity and their mystery.

—David Trinidad

What is a sonnet? It is a thing that only loves to be exactly itself, like Richard Simmons, isn't it? Not so fast. In Sandra Simonds's new book, the sonnet has escaped, runs wild, scavenges for itself. She stands in the landscape where it lives, noticing, an older form even than the sonnet is, and present behind her are megaflora and megafauna, and in front of her are all the small arrayed things of the new world that have been laid out for her to observe: "We are making some fine universe, / my five year old says, with sheer will. We are making some fine / universe out of what we have."

—Patricia Lockwood

Like her earlier work, Sandra Simonds's The Sonnets is fierce. I want my boyfriend to read them. I want my mom to read them. I want the police to read them, and weep. I wish I could do the things she does in this book—technically, politically, intellectually—but then I'd have to stop writing poems, they are that alive. They make me want to jump up.

—Chris Nealon

Sandra Simonds's new poems dizzy, as usual. This time, the vertiginousness is nested inside the lush ersatzitude of the sonnet. Her sonnets are traditional, if tradition says that sonnets are half-legible mimeos, a gift of beau désordre, evidence of how interestingly replication degrades. Floating tweens, Tom Petty, junk bonds, turtle shaped-pools, failing marriages, and Facebook make this book a classic upender of the classic.

—Anne Boyer