Author: Ted Berrigan
Publisher: Penguin Poets (2000)
Originally published in 1964, The Sonnets by Ted Berrigan is considered by many to be his most important and influential book. This new annotated edition, with an introduction by Alice Notley, includes seven previously uncollected works. Like Shakespeare's sonnets, Berrigan's poems involve friendship and love triangles, but while the former happen chronologically, Berrigan's happen in the moment, with the story buried beneath a surface of names, repetitions, and fragmented experience. Reflecting the new American sensibilities of the 1960's as well as timeless poetic themes, The Sonnets is both eclectic and classical—the poems are monumental riddles worth contemplating.
“One of the most significant works of twentieth-century American poetry, Ted Berrigan’s Sonnets remains as present and perspicacious as it was when it first appeared in the world almost forty years ago. Its vivacity remains unabashed, its momentum remains undeterred. It is a work in time about time’s inability to stop life. The Sonnets denies nothing; it acknowledges fear and tragedy; it discovers hilarity and speaks of beauty and of love. It encompasses plenitude; it is great.”
“Even though out of print for much of the last third of the 20th century, Ted Berrigan’s The Sonnets has inspired and influenced several generations of poets. Its present reissue in a definitive, annotated form is a major event in Anglophone literature. Its playful range of verbal pyrotechnics serves to convey a unique sensibility, sense of humor, strength of feeling. The Sonnets is a modern (or, if you wish, postmodern) classic, an exemplary source book for innovative writing strategies. Dazzling but not faddish, solid but not solemn, The Sonnets is poetry that gives you things to think about, and to think about again. And again.”