July 8, 2012: Master of forms Lewis Turco writes about Annabelle Moseley’s Mirror Sonnets.
At first glance I thought that what Ms. Moseley had done was to write two sonnets using the rhyme scheme of the first sonnet backwards in the second sonnet, which was an idea that didn’t impress me much because the idea would simply double all forms, and people could then write “mirror terzanelles,” “mirror sestinas” and so forth and claim they had “invented” the form(s). But a second glance showed me that the poem is much more clever than I had surmised on first reading. Ms. Moseley actually had written the second sonnet backward line by line, using the same lines as in the first sonnet, so that it made sense! … the mirror sonnet is quite a clever idea, and perhaps others would like to try the form.
Moseley’s mirror sonnets debuted in her full-length collection, The Clock of the Long Now (David Robert Books, 2012). Here is an example mirror sonnet from The Clock of the Long Now, “The Sea Cave of My Mother.”
Mr. Turco links to another example mirror sonnet, “Noah,” published in Issue #108 of Verse Wisconsin. In this issue, Moseley writes,
I devised this form, what I refer to as a “mirror sonnet.” In this form, the sonnet is written so it may be read from top to bottom, and bottom to top. I use the mirror form to examine the same subject differently when read in reverse. The mirror sonnet reflects the change in perspective that occurs as we move through time, space, and experience- the same or similar observations, but in a different order/level of importance. The mirror sonnet also lends an obsessive quality, as a pantoum can— in this case the backwards repetition reflects the desire to understand or remember more deeply.