Taking his cue from Spanish poet Ramon Fernandez’s desire to reduce the venerable romancero to its "minimal elements—the prosodic base beneath its overdetermined superstructure," Alfred Noyes boils the English sonnet down until we catch one last glimpse of its evaporating form: fourteen words, reminding us of the fourteen line limit the sonnet originally hove to. Compression Sonnets relentlessly investigate the smallest linguistic spaces, asking when does a form cease being functional—or meaningful. Arranged in five "sets," the fourteen-word poems surprisingly reveal consistent themes: the politics and economics of compression, the dual containments of form and the self, longing and the limits of language. The ghosts of sonnets past also hover with their "Darling buds," but these remnants now "may / Break plutonian odes" as they compress (Shakespeare and Ginsberg?) the "poetic" across time and space. Gathered up in a glance, these are poems which nevertheless bear repeated viewings.
Hispanicist and gardener Alfred Noyes was born in Leeds, England and has lived in Montreal, Barcelona, and Vancouver. He has for long been engaged with a translation of Ramon Fernandez’ ‘Quixote Variations,’ a long poem written in Spain in the late 1930s and one of the finest examples of radical modernismo. This is Noyes first, and he claims only, attempt at his own poetry. He also plans a biography of Fernandez.