Pop Sonnets: Shakespeare Meets Top 40

popsonnetsbookApparently Shakespeare is in the air. (OK, I suppose Shakespeare is always in the air somewhere). But now, right on the heels of my falling in love with the song “Will Power” from Something Rotten, NPR features the release of Erik Didriksen’s Pop Sonnets.

Pop Sonnets is an outgrowth of Didriksen’s Tumblr, where every Thursday he reinterprets a top-40 song in Shakespearean language and sonnet form. As one of the comments on the NPR post said, “This is sonnet-teaching gold.” The sonnets are both clever and strangely lovely. Here’s Didriksen’s take on Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean.”

BillieJeanOr since I’m on a Motown roll, how about this version of “My Girl”?

My Girl

The NPR link above features Didriksen’s comments on his process as well as links to several poems, but you’ll also want to explore the Tumbler, and maybe even purchase the book or some “Pop Sonnet swag.” Sonnets range from things that might be characterized as classic rock to current hits.

Consider challenging your students to transform a favorite song into sonnet form—with or without the Elizabethan language. How better to help them think about the form as a vehicle for communication rather than an obscure antiquity. If you do, we’d love to hear about it, and I suspect Didriksen would, too!

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