Some days the social internet makes up for all its corrosive effects by gifting you something inspiring…that turns into something wonderful.
Just this afternoon thanks to a Robinson Meyer tweet I was introduced to the poem Janus: Sonnet by one John M. Ford. Sonnets by themselves are hard to do well, but this is one of those poems that turns the genius level up to eleven. Not only does Ford weave some subtle and vivid truth into the standard sonnet form (an intricate job by itself), but he builds in an additional device that, when you see it, will astonish you.
If you understand what “Janus” refers to, you should be able to teach yourself how to read the sonnet. When you find Ford’s trick, you will understand the poem.
But it gets more interesting. Because Graham Sleight responded with another example of Ford’s genius: another smashing sonnet that he left as a comment on someone’s blog — !?! A later commenter notes, “This is, after all, the man who won a World Fantasy Award for a poem he wrote for his own self-published Christmas card.” (He has one several such awards, though I haven’t been able to figure out which one was being referenced here.)
Here, then, it seems we have a kind of Banksy of poetry, leaving little threads and tuns of treasure everywhere, not just in print but all throughout these quiet old places on the web that have just been sitting there for ten or fifteen or twenty years now.