Title: The Reality Street Book of Sonnets
Author: Jeff Hilson
Page Count/Review Word Count: 360
If you’re looking for a collection of traditional, Shakespearean sonnets, then you’ve come to the wrong place. Reality Street is an independent publisher based in Hastings and led by Ken Edwards, which publishes some of the most innovative poets and prose writers that are alive and working today.
And so, as you can expect, their collection of sonnets is hardly traditional, and it only occasionally conforms to the ABAB BCBC DCDC EE rhyming structure that you usually see from a sonnet. What it does do well, without exception, is to capture the spirit of the sonnet, and it’s like the next step in the evolution of the form.
Now, I’ve listed Jeff Hilson as the author, but he is in fact the editor – he’s on Reality Street’s roster of poets, and he was also the senior lecturer on my Creative Writing university course. Jeff’s a fantastic poet in his own right, but he doesn’t feature his own writing here – he simply introduces it, and then lets the other poets do their work.
And there are some great poets involved with the project, from Reality Street staples like Johan de Wit and Ken Edwards to members of the younger, upcoming generation like Sophie Robinson. It makes for a great mix of perspectives, a subject that the book is all about in its own little way, and for a great anthology of the work of the modern day rebels, who work to break the constraints of tradition and to usher in a new age of poetry and literature.
If poetry isn’t your thing, or if it is your thing and you prefer to read poetry which rhymes, then you’re not going to enjoy this. If, however, you’re not averse to poetry with the power to change the way that you look at the world, and if you’re not afraid to approach things with an open mind, then this might be the next great book on your reading list. As for me, I enjoyed it immensely.