Kevin J M Keane

Describing and testing the theory of centred form in sonnet writing, including an analysis of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 105

(in preparation)


The five so-called formal characteristics of a sonnet are clearly related, but how? Is there an organizing principle that connects the sonnet’s fourteen-line length, regular meter, volta, rhyme scheme and stanzaic form? This article argues that a sonnet unfolds from its centre to form a pattern in which its formal characteristics inhere.

The theoretical and practical evidence in support of the claim is provided by the construction of a working model from first principles, a description of the development of the author’s centred form sonnet cycle “Memorial Day: the Unmaking of a Sonnet”, the subsequent modelling of the formal characteristics of the Shakespearean tradition and an analysis of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 105.

The evidence supports the claim; that a sonnet unfolds from its centre offers a new approach to sonnet interpretation and fresh insight for creative writing.