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"A Persevering Miner Searching," American Sonnet on discovery of raw talent, Tuesday Workshop for Writers and Teachers

Updated on September 18, 2013

Developing an American Sonnet

Workshop Introduction

1. Welcome to this session of our Tuesday Workshop for Writers and Teachers, presented free on HubPages as part of a Tuesday program in English and American language and literature (flexible for use by persons attending with any level of skill and background).

2. Almost by definition, no one can predict what results will follow from informal workshops for writers and teachers.

3. You not only cannot predict the quality of the teaching, but you cannot predict the attention of writers attending, much less the quality of any new writing they might produce.

4. The workshop teacher may be having a good day with bad material, or a bad day with good material.

5. The writer may be listening intently and taking detailed notes, or daydreaming out the window while doodling aimlessly.

6. The workshop teacher may lack sufficient experience for the students at hand, hence be over-matched or simply unqualified.

7. Students may have misrepresented their previous background and writing experience.

8. So neither teacher nor student know fully what to expect.

9. During April-May of 2011, while corresponding via email on various matters with Kristen Rosenwinkel, administrator and musician at a Lutheran church I sometimes visited, a small friendship developed, and our apparent mutual delight in the correspondence soon turned, in effect, into a mutually beneficial workshop on poetry and writing in general.

10. Claiming she had written her last poem in grade school, Kristen quickly displayed an extraordinary skill which I have described in the workshop "Encouraging Natural Talent" that accompanies "A Sonnet on the Differences" [between hard work and raw talent].

11. Two weeks later, however, my attention had turned more to the perspective of the teacher always looking for potential talent to encourage and nurture, but more often enduring long stretches of empty waiting and endless searching.

12. This led me on Friday, May 6th, to the American sonnet "A Persevering Miner Searching, Searching," presented here in a revised form to encourage other writers looking for new ways to experiment with sonnet structures.

13. The term "American sonnet" refers to a style somewhat more characteristically American than the classical styles of the renaissance and Shakespearean eras (described by us in detail in another workshop on HubPages, "What Is an American Sonnet?").

14. The term "experimental American sonnet" refers to a form still in the range of sonnet format, but even less conforming to classical sonnet conventions.

15. The example in this case retains the traditional 14-line format ending with a summary couplet, but it uses an irregular, innovative rhyme scheme with lines of eight iambic feet rather than the classic five.

16. Below the sonnet I have included two different versions of four additional lines included in the original version after line 4.

17. Can you see why those four lines do not belong in this work and cried out to be removed to some other venue?

18. Please feel free to make suggestions and other comments, and use these ideas in your own writing as you wish.

19. It would make me happy if you let me know of any writing you do in this kind of expanded sonnet context.

20. Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy the poem.

A Persevering Miner Searching, Searching
An Experimental American Sonnet

A persevering miner searching, searching all his life for gold

Soon learns that he might find a priceless nugget anywhere he’s at

If he will only keep his open eyes and ears attuned and bold.

Inflexible and sacred laws of random distribution see to that.

But if perchance the miner digging deeper happens on a treasure,

At first he stands in awe that what he sought so long he now has found,

Then takes his time to laugh and weep with joy and happiness unbound,

And then to pray and be surprised to hear such silence in the sound

Of goals achieved until he starts more thoroughly to look around

And check his find a thousand ways to understand and try to measure

The magnitude, the gleaming glory of the gold that’s all around,

And what’s the engineering it will take to dig it from the ground.

The road is difficult that leads to gold, and few succeed in finding it,

Not just because it’s difficult, but that so few persist in seeking it.

Original writing, May-June, 2011
Revised November 2012

Section removed from original draft following line 4

A sunny sparkle serving steak and salmon in a sea-food shelter,

the flash of facile fun and faithful friendship in some fellows working,

the gleam ennobling green enthusiasm for a new endeavor,

sequestered sacred squeaks from gates of heaven in a church choir singing.

Later revision of section removed from original draft

The sunny sparkle serving steak and salmon in a sea-food harbor,

The fine-tuned facile fun and faithful friendship found in fellows working,

The fire-bell fresh fanaticism for a new far-fetched endeavor,

The finite flame that flickers from our factuality encircling.


Copyright (c) 2012 by The Max Havlick School, 16 W. Vermont St., Villa Park, Illinois 60181-1938, all rights reserved. We consider language skills a basic key to life, so we feature English language, literature, and spirituality for any serious adult desiring deeper skills of a productive, creative life: reading, writing, vocabulary at HS or college levels, surveys and detailed studies in great literature.

Currently we seek one or two special individuals who might like our help starting a local chapter of our school in their local area. Please contact Max or Fay if you have strong language skills and feel called to a new educational service or ministry to adults.

We value each person's life as a priceless work of art.


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