Interestingly, you will find many invented poetry forms tend not to be created brand new from whole cloth, but rather are either a variation on an existing traditional form or a mash-up of two different ones. The former is certainly true about a form I recently discovered while perusing Miller Williams’ excellent book “Patterns of Poetry: An Encyclopedia of Forms”. Created by the British scholar, publisher, and light verse poet Frank Sidgwick in the early 20th century, the monosyllabic sonnet (also known as a word sonnet) follows most of the rules of a traditional sonnet with one exception (as its name indicates). It has 14 lines and usually uses either the rhyme scheme of an Italian or English sonnet, but each line consists of just one syllable instead of the 10 syllables of iambic pentameter. You may notice I said, “usually uses either the rhyme scheme of an Italian or English sonnet.” That is because Sidgwick’s original monosyllabic sonnet “An Aeronaut to His Lady” actually combines the two, beginning with the rhyme scheme of the opening octet of the Italian (abbaabba) and ending with the closing quatrain and couplet of the English (cdcd ee). I think you will agree when you read it below, it would be near impossible to write a more elegant and perfect monosyllabic sonnet than this:
An Aeronaut to His Lady
As you see, it is indeed a tricky form to write well, but that didn’t stop me from giving it a couple of tries. My first uses the rhyme scheme of an Italian sonnet (abbaabbacdecde):
To My Little Boy
(Who Doesn’t Want to Go Home Quite Yet)
The second is my take on a monosyllabic sonnet utilizing the English sonnet rhyme scheme of ababcdcdefefgg:
Elegy For an Aspiring Surfer/Gravedigger Who Drowned
If you do decide to take up the challenge of trying to write your own monosyllabic sonnets (and I hope you do), my advice is to do what I recommended with previously discussed poetry forms with minimal words (such as the rothko, the two-by-four, and the Lewis Carroll square poem) and come up with appropriate titles to provide exposition and set up the premise of your poems. Monosyllabic sonnets are a bit difficult to write, so don’t get discouraged! Just keep playing with the form until you come up with something that you feel works for you. And please don’t be shy about sharing your efforts. I’d love to see them!