Poetry often gets a bad reputation as an antiquated art form focused on life’s doom and gloom, or trying to woo the cute girls. Though Robin William’s sung the praises of poetry in Dead Poets Society, and arguably led a generation of poetic souls towards a career in teaching, poetry is still often considered a subject that’s hard to teach, and just as hard to care about.

There’s a formality to a lot of poetry, especially forms like sonnets, which can be hard to relate to in a world of memes and quirkiness. But what if you put more fun into poetry?

If you know an English teacher or poetry lover, this is an ideal Christmas gift opportunity. But if you hate poetry, this might just be the book to change that.

Erik Didriksen has made magic online through reinterpreting modern music into Shakespearean sonnets. Fans flock to his website (www.popsonnets.com) to see each week’s new addition, and to see if their favourite song has been reimagined as formal poetry. After requests from fans, Didriksen has gathered together the most beloved weekly posts, as well as some never-before seen poems, and created Pop Sonnets.

Pop Sonnets, clearly, is not your typical book of poetry. It’s fun and irreverent in a way that you can’t help but want to share with those around you, and a game of a book to reach for as a pick-me-up on stressful days. It’s hard not to laugh.

The strength in Pop Sonnets is that it’s not a once-and-done read, nor is it some random book of miscellanea that might be half-heartedly flicked through before being relegated to a shelf for the rest of eternity. Whether it’s playing ‘guess the song’ with friends, or simply kicking back and enjoying reinterpretations of some really good (and sometimes not so good) music, it’s the sort of book that demands more than one reading. Well written and engaging, the author has a real talent and affection for the form.

Though I say that Pop Sonnets is an ideal read for English teachers and lovers of poetry alike, there’s no need to bring a love or understanding of poetry to this book. It’s a fun read even if your experiences of high school poetry classes left you flinching at the name ‘Shakespeare’. Pop Sonnets has managed, somehow, to be both a fantastic introduction to sonnets, and a hilarious read in its own right. If you’re the sort of person who loves hearing covers of songs, just to see how other musicians interpret something so well known, you’re probably going to like Pop Sonnets. If you like mocking music, you’ll probably like it, too.

For teachers, though, Pop Sonnets has the capacity to become a vital teaching resource. Reimagining pop, rap, and rock classics as sonnets works so well that I can see this becoming a fantastic tool for helping students understand the themes and language of poetry more fully.

Pop Sonnets is published by Harper Collins, and is available through the publisher’s website, at leading bookstores nationwide, and through e-book retailers such as Kindle and iTunes.


Rating: 5 Stars
Genre: Poetry and lyrics

Review by Kylie Thompson

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