New Voices, Traditional Forms: Student Sonnets & Sapphic Stanzas

Elise Legendre read these 3 poems, an Italian Sonnet and an English Sonnet, and Sapphic Stanzas, at the Boston Intercollegiate Poetry Festival.

i’m told to pray for courage, wisdom, though
i haven’t felt serene – in fact, that missed
me quite completely, lost the hour my lips
first caressed a bottle. i feel van gogh
swallowed yellow paint the way i swallow
liquor; the desperate droplets scrape and slip
against my throat – attempting to eclipse
and drown my aching, empty patch of woe

and oh! i fear without my 80-proof blood
the words won’t flow as beautifully from my tongue
as once they did, when vodka made me numb
so i will let it pour like a fucking flood
‘til every stinging sip engulfs my heart.
isn’t it lovely to suffer for art?

defining the relationship

i told you i could hide away from love,
a lonely skill acquired through lonely years
spent building walls no one could climb above –
a shield of apprehensions, doubts and fears.

i told you simply, brushing past the pain,
as if existing separate from my life,
was easy, and I didn’t have to feign
a smile when every moment felt like knives.

i told you i would run if i feared loss,
like every time i’d doubted in the past.
your fingers brushed my skin, your pity crossed
your eyes. your lips were soft and when you asked

when i would stop, how much i’d have to lose,
i laughed your name – half-teasing at the truth.


your skin: warm honey and milk, cloves and wood smoke –
you’re like home against my tongue. oh, you kissed a
small, brief, memory of your love into my
flesh, at the places

where my shoulder hollows into my throat. my
name escapes and slips from between your lips, and
drips like nectar until my ears are bursting,
brimming with your voice.

Elise Legendre is a singer/songwriter from Boulder, Colorado, who will graduate from Berklee with a degree in Songwriting in May of 2020, which she is absolutely terrified about. She is also terrified of relationships, her fleeting time on earth, and tiny tiny spiders. She has written poetry about all of these terrifying things except for the spiders, due to the fact that she thinks they don’t deserve it.
Three Poems by Lesley Goff: Free Verse, Sapphic Stanzas and a Terza Rima

blood lined his eyes that were staring but not seeing
the spot etched where his body rested
bruised and yellowed and purple and flesh and
hands that were once shaking under the table at every family meal
i wanted to grab them and
scream at him-

the worst is to think
he was once a baby, a toddler
his choices now make him no less.
another body consumed by the struggle within.

what do you do when lives need more
than stuff?
more than tears?
more than love?


So the veiled mourner’s now widowed by death whilst
Blaring her sadness like a fog horn signal
Dampening the glow from the lanterned steeple
Ashes strewn crosswise

And a mockingbird sits on her cypress branch
Sounds of lust and taunting of prey about her
Oh how mimicking the love birds’ flirting screech
Pierces the quiet

This is how I make myself feel sad:

I saw a man walk down the street alone
And he was doing fine, though I could see
The color of his shirt he’d well outgrown

Turning yellow. Could it have been for free,
My brain wonders, wanders more into his life?
Don’t know why I let these thoughts consume me

Or give these unnamed people so much strife
With stories I create inside my head:
I wonder does he have some kids, a wife

And did she leave him even though they’d wed?
Maybe she couldn’t stand the house ashtray
Or how it was placed right beside the bed.

He sleeps in cotton sheets, now stale and gray
I don’t know the truth, it’s better that way.

Lesley Goff grew up in Madison, Wisconsin surrounded by a creative family who has inspired much of her artistic career. From an early age she was drawn to the music her dad would play and the poetry her mother would write, encouraging her to expand upon her passion of both. She is now in her senior year at Berklee studying songwriting and creating music in her duo project Posey.
An English Sonnet by Emily Chuang

Although we’ve never met on Earth before,
I’d like to still be clinging on the thread –
that someday Mom will learn to not ignore –
the ring of light that gleams above your head.

I’d like to catch some laughs from down the hall,
where waves of shadows dance unevenly,
but ashes, yours, litter the window-sill.
and all I hear is Grandma singing tenderly.

I know we’ve never met on Earth before,
but Mom had always wished I’d play the part.
So how do people learn to fake-ignore
the numbness of their heart? I yearn to hurt.

I’m taught to miss the boy I’ll never meet,
but I was born with feelings incomplete.

Emily Chuang is a recent Berklee graduate with a degree in Songwriting. Born in Taiwan but raised in Canada, she yearns to bring the Asian-American culture into the global spotlight. Emily is a part of Crown Village, a creative collective based in South Korea and the U.S., where she is now beginning her endeavors as an artist.