The Facebook Sonnet by Sherman Alexie

As I beefed up my submission for Chrysallis‘ next issue Patterns, I tried to catch up on way-overdue poetry reads, digging through old New Yorkers, searching for the last three Missouri Reviews and getting a bit further in my copy of the Anthology of American Literature. Side note: does anyone here understand Carl Sandburg?

I flipped open the May 16th issue of the New Yorker (you know, the one with the penciled image of Osama Bin Laden’s face that’s been erased?) and stumbled upon a gem. It’s true to sonnets, true to the time, ancient and modern at once. More than this, it’s a scathing rebuke of our Facebooking world.

Alexie condenses his sonnet into wrap-around, vicious phrases like “welcome to the endless high-school/Reunion,” and “Let’s undervalue and unmend/The present.” He’s honest and brutal and healing when he asks, “Why can’t we pretend/Every stage of life is the same?” and when he finishes, “Let’s sign up, sign in, and confess/Here at the altar of loneliness.”

I wish I could quote the sonnet in its entirety to you, but the best I can do is to say pull out the issue and reread that one. It’s page 81 of the May 16th issue. If you don’t have it, first subscribe, then click on the “page 81” link. It’ll be worth your time and money, that is, if you spend your time and money kind of like I do.

If not, I’m certainly interested in this subject and wrote a medium-length article for pastors on the new self-disclosure.


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  1. While this poem sounds really great and I will most definitely look for it in our giant stack of The New Yorker, I just have to mention that Sherman Alexie is a male, not a female, as you refer to “her sonnet.” I hate to be annoying, but just thought you might like to know 🙂 I heard him speak at my college a few years ago and I enjoy his work immensely.

  2. I have met Mr. Alexie! He is from ’round these parts. I have been to some of his readings and he spoke at a conference. A guy I used to work with payed basketball with him a lot.

    1. That’s fabulous! Yeah, I heard they do a lot of readings up in the northeast – something I’ve always evied about Seattle and Portland. Is he a nice guy? Fun? Engaging?

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