call for anthology submissions
The 700-line Sonnet Cycle: A Country’s Birthday Poem
In 2019, Singapore will be abuzz with its bicentennial celebrations, with deep awareness of how our history goes as far back as some 700 years.
To celebrate Singapore’s 700 years of history, 50 authors will pen a found//fount sonnet each, to be published in this anthology, tentatively titled Seven Hundred Lines: A Crown of Fifty Found//Fount Sonnets. We welcome all writers, new or established, and will make selections purely on the literary merit of the submitted poems. Indeed, we are looking for as diverse a range of themes and styles as possible.
With 50 contributing authors, this epic poem will feature 50 installments within a 700-line sonnet cycle/crown, a fitting tribute poem for such a monumental event. This sprawling, expansive poem will, indeed, be a grand birthday poem to the country.
The Found//Fount Sonnet: A Made-in-Singapore Poetry Form
The sonnet is unrivalled in its classic stature. No other form has its cultural cachet, so much so whole nations have their own versions of it. The Italians have the Petrarchan sonnet; the English have their Shakespearean and Spenserian sonnets. Billy Collins has written “American Sonnet”, with Tomaz Salamun penning “Sonnet to a Slovenian”. To celebrate and commemorate Singapore’s 700 years of history, the form of choice will be a quintessentially Singaporean sonnet, with its own distinct formal structure.
Named the found//fount sonnet by Desmond Kon, this new form comprises the 14 lines expected of any sonnet, while dipping into existing texts to unearth 14 distinct words, each of which are then woven into each of the 14 lines. This method is borne of Oulipo aesthetics, which explores poetic creation produced within defined structural constraints. As Singapore’s very own version of the sonnet, this form revels in invoking fragments of historical or literary texts, as pivots around which envelop the lyric of the new poem.
For the structure and examples of the found//fount sonnet, please refer to the Appendix at the bottom of this page, or its entry on the Southeast Asian Poetic Forms website:
We consider poetry that engages with the structural constraints of the found//fount sonnet, however freely they may be interpreted. Please limit poetry submissions to 1-3 poems.
Please feel free to use any text as your source material to unearth your 14 found words. An example of a great base text is a choice historical document from within the span of the last 700 years of Singapore’s history. The source text may range from a newspaper article to diary excerpt, book chapter to academic essay. Indeed, the source text does not even have to pertain specifically to Singapore. It may be a novel or poem or philosophical treatise, anything that you feel may be a point of inspiration, a text that offers lovely insight and great ekphrastic potential.
Sunday, 6 January 2019
We will close submissions once we reach the 50 poems selected for publication. If necessary, this anthology project will operate on a rolling deadline, until the anthology has found its perfect set of 50 sonnets.
We aim to contact contributors with accepted work after we’ve finalized selections. Because of our workload, we are unable to send out rejection correspondence. Please accept our apologies on this.
Contributors will receive a complimentary copy of the anthology. The anthology will have its launch in late 2019, and various authors will be invited to read their sonnet at this event.
1. Please include a cover letter in your email, with a contributor biography of no more than 70 words. In the Subject Heading, please type “SUBMISSION TO 700 LINES: YOUR NAME”.
2. All manuscripts must be typed, single-spaced. Please title your Word document “700 LINES: YOUR NAME”. Unless typography is crucial to the aesthetic of your poem, please use standard typefaces (font 12) such as Arial, Cambria, Georgia, Helvetica or Times New Roman.
Feel free to feature an epigraph – this text will not count towards your sonnet’s 14 lines.
Beneath your poem, please provide a footnote with attribution to your source text (just the title and author, if any, are adequate), as well as all your 14 found words. The footnote should be written up like so:
The base text is Derrida’s The Post Card: From Socrates to Freud and Beyond, translated by
Alan Bass. The epigraph is excerpted from the book’s 5 June 1977 entry, with the fourteen
found words as follows: signers, visibly, to, not, senders, that, example, of, feel, is, every, me,
3. Do indicate your full publication name (what you’d like to appear within the anthology) and email within the header on every page of the manuscript.
4. We only accept submissions via email. Submissions should be addressed to: firstname.lastname@example.org
5. We accept new or previously published work. If the works have been published before, you must still retain rights to these works. Please also indicate where the pieces first appeared for the purpose of acknowledgement. If your work is accepted for publication, we request a non-exclusive license to print your works within the anthology and for publicity purposes.
6. We encourage simultaneous submissions.
7. Our aesthetic taste is diverse. If you’d like to know more about the kinds of work we are charmed by, please take a look at our Reading Room HERE.
We welcome your poems, which we honor. All the very best with the writing, and we look forward to receiving your stellar work!
APPENDIX: The Found//Fount Sonnet
“In the great artist,” Richard Brault says, “you see daring bound by discipline and discipline stretched by daring.” As a movement, Oulipo (Ouvroir de Litterature Potentielle, or Workshop of Potential Literature) explores poetic creation produced within defined structural constraints. It began in 1960, founded by the strange mathematician-writer pair, Francois de Lionnais and Raymond Queneau. According to Poets.org, both founders “believed in the profound potential of a poem produced within a framework or formula and that, if done in a playful posture, the outcomes could be endless”. Some well-known Oulipo formulae include the “N+7” and “Snowball”.
In this creative prompt, we’ll be working with a new poetic form, quaintly named The Found//Fount Sonnet. The form was invented by Singapore poet Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé.
1. Choose your base text, which may be derived from any source. For example, your base text may be a historical document, a newspaper article, or memoir excerpt, etc.
2. From the base text in front of you, locate one word as your starting point. Circle the word. Now, follow the clause or line, and circle every seventh word you read. Keep going, till you have fourteen words circled.
3. Each of these fourteen words will now appear as fourteen found words in the fourteen distinct lines of the sonnet you’re about to write.
4. Write each line, from the constraint of that one word chosen for that line. The word may appear anywhere within the line. You should end up with fourteen lines, the number of lines expected of a sonnet.
5. You may choose to rhyme, or not rhyme. That said, end rhymes (we’re not attempting the Petrarchan or Shakespearean sonnet here) don’t always feature in contemporary engagements with the sonnet form. Have fun with line length, allowing your poem to adopt short and long lines. Feel the way your emergent text creates fluidity and fracturing.
6. Give your poem (your first stab at the Found//Fount Sonnet) a title.
7. Include a footnote with attribution to your source title (just the title and author, if any, are adequate), as well as all your fourteen found words.
8. In this art creation, you’ve worked in found poetry, Oulipian constraints, and a classic poetic form. Such exacting techniques help deconstruct established poetic conventions and assumptions, liberating your language from their strictures. Have fun with how your language adjusts and shapes itself within such procedural limitations. Feel how authorship works in such instances, what it means to be an author when the text is created alongside such disciplined external constraints.