Over the past couple of years, I volunteered to teach in the West Tennessee State Penitentiary, where I was part of a faculty cohort that offers humanities seminars to incarcerated women.
The program director had invited me to discuss a play, but I didn’t think I could do justice to a drama in just two brief sessions. So we read Shakespeare’s sonnets instead. Right choice! One student, Aja, was so enthusiastic that she came to the first class having already translated her favorite into her own verse.
The sparse classroom has a corkboard on one wall whose dimensions mirror the shape of a sonnet on the page, giving us a good visual analogue for the form: why would an artist choose to work within such a frame? G. K. Chesterton, who held that art consists in limitation, was only half jesting when he asserted that the most beautiful part of every picture is the frame.
How to Think like Shakespeare
From the footnotes, original source:
Cited by Ian Ker, Chesterton: A Biography (Oxford University Press, 2012), 254.