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Shakespeare's Birthday: Writing Prompt

Was William Shakespeare actually born in April 23, 1564? We don't really know, but this is the date that is generally agreed upon for Shakespearean celebrations. Since my blog's Prompt Day falls this year on the 23rd, it seemed silly to have anything other than a Shakespeare-inspired prompt to start your creative week.

Whether you celebrate by:

participating in a 24-hour Poetry Marathon

attending a local production of Othello, Richard III, The Tempest, As You Like It, etc.

coloring thanks to these printouts from Folgerpedia

reading a modern novel based on a Shakespeare play (Jane Smiley's A Thousand Acres,

Anne Tyler's Vinegar Girl, Matt Haig's The Dead Father's Club, Chloe Gong's These

Violent Delights, or Cat Winters' The Steep and Thorny Way are but a few)

watching a movie that retells one of the bard's plays or was inspired by his life and or work

(West Side Story, The Good-bye Girl, Shakespeare in Love, 10 Things I Hate about You,

Deliver Us from Eva, Kiss Me Kate, To Be or Not to Be, She's The Man, Me and Orson

Welles, Upstream, Warm Bodies are great ones, but certainly not all)

or doing all of the above, you can also get into the Shakespeare Groove with this week's prompt!

Write a (mostly) traditional Shakespearean (English) sonnet, but make your poem's topic a current socio-political issue. Sonnets were traditionally love poems, so while this prompt asks you to stick to tradition as far as form, it also asks you to rebel against tradition as far as the topic you write about.

14 lines

the first 12 lines (3 quatrains) introduce the topic and the speaker's relationship to that

topic and then get into specific details about the topic

the volta is the turn in the sonnet--it comes before the last 2 lines

the couplet at the end resolves the problem or presents a plan of action

each line is written in iambic pentameter, which means you will have 10-syllable lines (more or

less) with stresses that sound like ta-TUM ta-TUM ta-TUM ta-TUM ta-TUM--if this is too

much, just go for lines of 10 syllables

the rhyme scheme in these sonnets is ABAB CDCD EFEF GG

The sonnet continues to be a popular form, in part because there are so many ways to vary the form and still have a sonnet. But see what you can do by trying the traditional format, in honor of the man who did not invent the form but has his name associated with one of the sonnet forms.

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