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Sonnet contest fun for everyone (06/19/2013)
By Jen Burris
Writing poetry can be an adventure. Poetry is not just for professional writers or experienced poets, as the Maria W. Faust Sonnet Contest winners have proven in the past. It’s meant to be a fun way to put pen to paper and see what comes out.

As the 2013 Great River Shakespeare Festival (GRSF) begins its tenth season, the sixth annual Maria W. Faust Sonnet contest is underway. Poets around the world may, and have, entered the contest, explained Emilio DeGrazia, Winona poet laureate.

The contest was named in honor of Maria Faust, a great supporter of the arts, who passed away in late 2011. Her husband, Ted Haaland, has been collaborating with GRSF annual sonnet contest ever since.

Haaland has worked very hard to improve the contest, DeGrazia said. In fact, Haaland recently published a chapbook, "This Melody Weaves In And Out," that includes all of the winning sonnets since 2008. The book is available for sale around town at area bookstores, at the Winona Post, 64 E. Second Street, and will be for sale at the festival, he stated. It is likely Haaland will be publishing a second book of winners in another five years, DeGrazia added.

This year the contest was advertised in Writer’s Digest and Poets and Writers Magazine. DeGrazia, a former Maria W. Faust Sonnet Contest winner himself, believes there will be even more entries this year with the added advertisements. The hope is to expand the awareness of the Shakespeare Festival and enhance the contest as well, he said. Most of the people who tend to write sonnets have usually read Shakespeare, DeGrazia added.

This year there has been a special category added just for Winona writers, DeGrazia explained. “There had been some grievances from Winona residents about having to compete on a national/international level,” DeGrazia said. There are so many great sonnets that come from local Winona residents, they deserve their own category, he noted.

The contest will be judged this year by DeGrazia and former Winona Poets Laureates Jim Armstrong and Ken McCullough.

DeGrazia has some advice for contest entrants: don’t try to be too fancy, a sonnet is already formal. “Feel free to speak in a natural voice,” he said. Use a fluid, but formal style, depth of thought, and avoid cliches, he recommended.

According to DeGrazia, entry for the contest is $5 dollars with the option to submit up to 3 sonnets; the contest deadline is July 15. Submissions may be mailed to:

GRSF Maria W. Faust Sonnet contest

c/o Emilio DeGrazia

211 W. Wabasha Street

Winona, MN 55987

Entry fee checks are to be made out to Ted Haaland, with “Maria W. Faust Fund” in the memo line.

There will be a ceremony for the winners on August 3, which will include members of the Shakespeare cast reading the winners’ sonnets. For more information on the contest visit http://grsf.org/education/for-everyone/sonnet-contest.

“Last year was the best poetry reading I’ve ever been to, and I’ve been to a few,” DeGrazia laughed.

How to write a sonnet

First you must choose a rhyme scheme; there are a few options, including the following:

-Shakespearean:

ABAB CDCD EFEF GG

-Spenserian:

ABAB BCBC CDCD EE

-Petrarchan:

ABBA ABBA CDE CDE

The A’s rhyme with A’s, B’s with B’s and so on.

Shakespearean style, a popular format, follows iambic pentameter; there are five iambs, each with one unaccented syllable followed by an accented syllable.

So enter this contest for writing sonnets today

It’s a fun little project, enjoy it you may

 

 

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