Sixty Sonnets

Calculated to reflect the sixty minutes in an hour of heightened imaginative contemplation, the poems in Ernest Hilbert’s first book, Sixty Sonnets, contain memories of violence, historical episodes, humorous reflections, quiet despair, violent discord, public outrage, and private nightmares. A cast of fugitive characters share their desperate lives—failed novelists, forgotten literary critics, cruel husbands, puzzled historians, armed robbers, jobless alcoholics, exasperated girlfriends, high school dropouts, drowned children, and defeated boxers. These characters populate love poems (“My love, we know how species run extinct”), satires (“The way of the human variety, / Not even happy just being happy”), elegies (“The cold edge of the world closed on you, kissed / You shut”), and songs of sorrow (“Seasons start slowly. They end that way too”). The original rhyme scheme devised for this sequence–ABCABCDEFDEFGG–allows the author to dust off of the Italian “little song” and Americanize the Elizabethan love poem for the twenty-first century. Speaking at times in propria persona (“We’ll head out, you and me, have a pint”), at times in the voice of both male and female characters (“I’m sorry I left you that day at MoMA”), at times across historical gulfs (“Caesar and Charlemagne, Curie, Capone”), Sixty Sonnets marshals both trivia and tragedy to tell stories of modern America, at last achieving a hard-won sense of careful optimism, observing “the last, noble pull of old ways restored, / Valued and unwanted, admired and ignored.”

Black text stating Sixty Sonnets by Ernest Hilbert Nr. 1-60 Urtext over a grey background with brown coffee stains framed by a black rectangle with grey text stating Red Hen in an ornate black placard box with black text stating Nr. 4463 underneath.

Ernest Hilbert ( Author Website )

Publication Date: February 15, 2009

Genre/Imprint: Poetry, Red Hen Press

$18.95 Tradepaper

Shop: Red Hen, Bookshop, Barnes & Noble

ISBN: 978-1-59709-361-3


Ernest Hilbert Featured on Best American Poetry

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Review of Sixty Sonnet in BookSlut

The sonnet is an enduring lyric monument, one of the few postclassical forms that refuses to die. Almost every major poet writing in a Western language has attempted to stand […]

Sixty Sonnets Reviewed in Rattle Magazine

Sixty Sonnets, Reviewed by Maryann Corbett One look at the cover of Sixty Sonnets lets you know you’re dealing with a poet who’s got both slyness and chutzpah—at least if poet Ernest […]