Supporting Friends Friday: Son of Sonnet

The other day I wrote about Quiz Bowl, and briefly mentioned my glory days on middle school Academic Team.  Some things about ourselves never change—I’m coaching quiz bowl over twenty years later—but many, thankfully, do.

For me, an important change is my attitude towards poetry.  As a doughy middle schooler, I thought poetry was terrible.  To my chubby past self’s credit, a great deal of what is presented as poetry is terrible.  Indeed, much of it is worse than bathroom stall doggerel, which at least has to rhyme; possess a sense of rhythm; and be funny.

My appreciation for poetry began to turn around sometime in high school, and continued through college, but even after I started writing my own songs, I still mostly thought poetry was garbage, even as I snapped along politely while waiting my turn to play at various open mic nights.  A few important people helped change my mind:  Jeremy Miles; the folks at Dragon Common Room; and the subject of today’s Supporting Friends FridaySon of Sonnet.

Son of Sonnet—“Son” for short—is the nom de plume of poet, actor, and stage combat expert Michael Gettinger.  I’ve come to know Son through a couple of different Telegram chats, where he once shared his poetry frequently.  Now he has his own Telegram channel, where he posts his signature sonnets (he also posts them on Gab and Minds, so if you prefer those platforms, check him out there).  These sonnets are often done on-demand or by request—readers request sonnets on particular subjects, and Son obliges.

The results are excellent, and make for fun reading.  Son is “one of us”—an old soul (his now-defunct podcast was called Old Soul Narrations) in a stage combat enthusiast’s body (I don’t think any of the rest of us here are experienced in stage combat, but you get the idea).  His sonnets range from exploring the beautiful and sublime to the wretched and political (but I repeat myself), and he approaches both with a keen mastery of rhyme, rhythm, and the sonnet form.

Here is a recent one about Halloween, which I hope he won’t mind me quoting in full:

A Poem for Halloween
for Ancalagon123
By Son of Sonnet
We fake our love of scares on Halloween,
Participation trophies in our sweets.
We wear our costumes in order to be seen,
Distracting from the fear beneath the sheets.
An invisible hand presents our dreams,
that we as children accept as the truth.
Our lives begin to sprout repeating themes,
and sweets begin to rot the eager tooth.
Some days invisible, and others trapped
In labyrinths of political thought.
We’re told that turning left is where we’re apt,
But not how we prevent what monsters wrought.
We turn to prayer when the dark descends,
and ask that outside knowledge sometime gleam.
But we are answered by the death of friends,
and we become the beasts of Halloween.
Perhaps a harmless wish to have some fun,
but what do we accomplish when it’s done?

It’s dark even for a poem about Halloween!  But he adeptly explores the conceit of Halloween—our desire to enjoy fake scares that are, of course, quite harmless, but in the process we’re capable of becoming quite monstrous, hiding anonymously behind the masks of computer screens, delving into “labyrinths of political thought” until “we become the beasts of Halloween.”

Of course, my hasty reading could be utter hogwash, but if I’m right, it’s a pretty subtle and damning statement on how we play at being frightened, while desperately ignoring the very real presence of death and destruction in our lives.

Regardless, I would encourage you to check out the rest of Son’s work—and to consider a subscription to his SubscribeStar page.  He’s a good poet, but he hasn’t enjoyed some of the opportunities that other poets and creators on our side have carved out for themselves lately.  I’m hoping he will release a collection of his sonnets soon as a self-published volume, his work schedule permitting; if he does, I will let readers know right away.

With that, I also have an announcement to make:  Son’s sonnets will be appearing here at The Portly Politico the first and third Wednesdays of each month, starting in November 2021.  In an effort to support our little community of creators and bloggers, I’ve commissioned him to produce these twice-monthly poems for our enjoyment, and he has agreed to accept the extremely paltry sum I’ve offered (your subscription to my SubscribeStar page could help me support even more writers!).

Please give him a warm welcome to The Portly Politico family!



34 thoughts on “Supporting Friends Friday: Son of Sonnet

  1. I’ve found that poetry improves many other facets of the subject, like prose and presentations. If you can let loose lyrically, rather than opting to maximise rhythm and structure, the rest will follow suit. I had a student many moons ago (I taught English at GCSE, AS and A level) who was absolutely terrible at prose but wrote some beautiful poetry. Rather than massaging her grades, as some other teachers were wont to do, I told her how she could translate her love for poetry into a love for literature in general and helped her overcome some of the barriers she was facing, in particular with research. Her grades improved, so I was told – I was booted off the teaching part of the course when I refused to lower my aspiration bar.

    One of my favourite things about poetry is you can write/describe an entire event in just a few words. Poetry is more of a feeling rather than a practice and good poetry is sensuous. To be honest, I’m surprised more people don’t favour poetry over the longer forms.

    Liked by 2 people

    • What a wonderful story (though sorry you got the boot). I think so much of poetry is just overly free-flowing garbage independent of any rules, so it’s easy to just tune it out or ignore it (and, like other literary forms, it’s become hyper-politicized—a vehicle for more trash).

      What I love about Son’s poetry—and the sonnet form—is that it’s focused and structured, while still fulfilling the positive sides of poetry that you mention, especially its metaphorical brevity.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I am sad to confess I am one of the hopeless unwashed who has no real appreciation for poetry. Maybe because what was taught in school (back in the time of mallets and chisels) was just awful. But I look forward to being tutored by Son of Sonnet.

    I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t ask – if your friend is Son of Sonnet, who’s Sonnet? Shakespeare?

    Liked by 3 people

    • Long ago I posted in a most somber mood. I think it was the Obamacare decision (It’s a tax.). Anyway, my answer, via Jessica, starting me off back to poetry, came from G. K. Chesterton’s amazingly long epic of King Alfred the Great ‘The Ballad of the White Horse” Since it fits the topic, I will post the answer to your email of this morning here. Just as she answered my despair.

      “I tell you naught for your comfort,
      Yea, naught for your desire,
      Save that the sky grows darker yet
      And the sea rises higher

      The lines are repeated in a different context toward the end as Alfred gathers the Saxons for what will prove the last and successful battle

      “And this is the word of Mary,
      The word of the world’s desire
      `No more of comfort shall ye get,
      Save that the sky grows darker yet
      And the sea rises higher.’

      Now it proves the flint against which the iron of resolve is sharpened, and the Saxons rally and they win, even though all had seemed lost. Alfred was not the most charismatic or dramatic of leaders, but he won, and this is why:

      And this was the might of Alfred,
      At the ending of the way;
      That of such smiters, wise or wild,
      He was least distant from the child,
      Piling the stones all day.

      Alfred has faith and he had patience, and he had resilience; he lacked the capacity to despair. In short, he possessed all the Christian virtues. He listened to Our Lady and he understood her advice, and so, at the height of the battle:

      The King looked up, and what he saw
      Was a great light like death,
      For Our Lady stood on the standards rent,
      As lonely and as innocent
      As when between white walls she went
      And the lilies of Nazareth.”

      And with that, I was able to settle in for the long pull, and it is often that I tell myself that:

      `No more of comfort shall ye get,
      Save that the sky grows darker yet
      And the sea rises higher.’

      And add from Elliot’s version of Mother Julian of Norwich

      “And all shall be well and All manner of thing shall be well
      When the tongues of flames are in-folded Into the crowned knot of fire
      And the fire and the rose are one.”

      Liked by 4 people

      • Also noting that the main part of it is not my work but Jessica comforting and encouraging two old men, me, and a friend of ours in Central Europe who sadly has crossed over since. But it certainly worked for me.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Now THAT is great poetry Neo particularly the Eliot extract. I am so glad Britain and America share Eliot, he is my favourite poet and of course the towering poetic talent of the twentieth century and beyond, no-one else comes near him in my opinion apart from perhaps Auden. I love to listen to him intoning The Wasteland. I once saw one of the (acting) Fox brothers recite the entirety of The Four Quartets without reference to the text. A spectacular feat of memory.

        Liked by 3 people

      • It is that. I have a post in archives that was a recitation of the The Four Quartets, it is high on my list of favorite poems. Although overall my favorite poet is Kipling, he understood us so well.

        By the way, Mother Julian’s book, “Revelations of Divine Love” the first book published in English by a woman author and where the “All things will be well…” comes from is also excellent.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I loved it, but it is strange. She tells of her, well fever dream is perhaps the only description, where she was transported to Jerusalem and witnessed the Crucifixion and what she learned.

        At least in the US it’s on Amazon (and probably Abe’s).

        Liked by 1 person

      • Mother Julian’s book seems to be readily available here. I always have far more books than I can possibly read at any one time and I have three arriving tomorrow I hope, Collected Poems of W H Auden and two novels by Grahame Greene. So excited.

        Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for the link, Audre. Andrew Klavan is great and it’s sparked quite a fun conversation with me and Tina. She says thank you, by the way. One day, she might email you and tell you that! 🙂

      By the way, have you watched A Quiet Place yet? It is such a good movie.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. By the way, Tina has it in her head that Neo sounds like Joel (The Last of Us) and Port, Rick Grimes. For anyone who doesn’t know what these guys sound like, here’s a taste:

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It was HILARIOUS!!! My reaction – not the movie. Let me set this up for you – I’m alone almost all the time and the only noise in the house is if I play a video – or a movie. So it’s always VERY quiet here. I’m watching the movie and decide I need something to drink, walk into the kitchen, open the fridge door … and stop dead in my tracks!!! The door made NOISE!!!! HELLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLP!!! I caught myself and just started laughing and laughing.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. 39 – In my mind’s ear (wink), I think Neo sounds like Joss Ackland (the Russian Ambassador in The Hunt for Red October). I don’t have a voice for Port.

    Liked by 2 people

    • No, he doesn’t, Audre. To us, he looks like the Marlboro man, he wears a stetson, tilts it and says ‘maam’ with a very gruff but manly Joel manner. And I meant Rick Grimes to Port. Damn it! Why can’t you edit comments on WordPress?! 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      • He may well look like the Marlboro Man, but to me he sounds like Joss! It’s my imagination and I can do with it what I want! (stomps foot). LOLOLOLOL !

        Liked by 2 people

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