Sad Jazz is a novel-in-sonnets, a sort of updating of the Petrarchan love sonnet sequence that follows a couple through their courtship, marriage, divorce and aftermath. The sonnets in this book are largely metrically true, though a minority of them are experiments -- sonnets that shrink from 14 syllables to two, sonnets that use repetition instead of rhyme, blank verse sonnets, and so on. To see Tony Barnstone's article on the craft of the contemporary sonnet, and what sonnet-writers today can learn from the tradition of free verse, see his "A Manifesto on the Contemporary Sonnet" at The Cortland Review at this URL: http://www.cortlandreview.com/features/06/december/barnstone_e.html
Tony gives an overview of the book:
What Her Father Said
After the barbeque the men stayed out
in the cold garden drinking sake, rum,
and whiskey, stomachs warm and fingers numb.
The yellow cat began to nose about
the chicken bones and cold asparagus,
leftover steak and daikon radish, salt
soy beans, cucumber salad. "It's my fault,"
he said, "She doesn't want me." "Just give us
some time," her father said--his gray hair tied back--
gripped his son-in-law's hands across the table
and held them tight, tight. "Listen to me,"
he said, "In Japan, we say a dog is able
to eat all things, will even lick its ass.
But marriage trouble, even dogs won't eat."
I was born in Middletown, Connecticut, into a very unusual family. My father, Willis Barnstone, was a young professor at Wesleyan University at that time. When I was two, we left Connecticut to live in Spain on a Guggenheim Fellowship my father had been granted, and so my...
Beneath the electric bill, discarded beer caps and spilled ashtray in the disaster I call my car, Impure-a collection of poetry by Whittier College prof and local poet Tony Barnstone-beckons days...
"Antonyms" is the most technically interesting of the death/breath poems. It's built like Herbert's "Easter Wings," starting with a pair of four feet per line and decreasing by a foot...