Work > Digital Sonnets

Selected from a collection of 154 Digital Sonnets.


When the sonnet came into English in the early modern period, there developed a heightened sense and capacity for interiority, attempts to represent internal psychological desires and contradictions. Abstraction is concerned with posing questions, and we see this formally and figuratively in, for example, the sonnets of Shakespeare, “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” The experience of abstraction, linguistic or pictorial, causes us to interrogate the structures of imagination, borrowed or invented, that we use to construct reality. In poetry, the sonnet form has persisted, remaining ever flexible and accessible in the hands of poets. I wanted to see if I could translate the formal energies of the sonnet into visual abstraction (visual poetry). I look at these sonnets as wordless enactments of the structural variations possible in the form, e.g., number of lines and stanzas, meter, rhyme scheme, and so forth. I particularly enjoy the in-built cognitive shift (volta) that often leads to further questions. Leaning into the sometimes precise and sometimes hamfisted tools of a digital and depersonalized cloud-based word processor (Google Doc), I have tried to go before the sonnet, to find its original energy and translate it for future sonneteers.

Nick Maurer