John D Lowther

A Sonnet from 555

The other other gender.
I’m not reclaiming any authenticity of the erotic self, I’m not fantasizing about the golden age of sexual happiness.
As a culture, they fetishize the anus and memorialize it in song.
I kissed him with the wet of her sex on my mouth.
I thought I was a lesbian until I found your blog, now I don’t know what the fuck is going on.
Abilities cannot be accurately measured with self-reports.
The only serious thing is invention.
The old world is dying away, and the new world struggles to come forth: now is the time of monsters.


555 is a collection of sonnets whose construction is database-driven and relies on text analytic software. I crunched and analyzed Shakespeare's sonnets to arrive at averages for word, syllable and character (inclusive of punctuation but not spaces). These averages (101 words, 129 syllables, 437 characters) became requirements for three groups of sonnets. I collected lines from anywhere and everywhere in the air or in print in a database. The lines are all found, their arrangement is mine. Values for word, syllable and character were recorded. Typos and grammatical oddities were preserved; only initial capitals and a closing period have been added as needed. The selection of lines isn't rule-driven and inevitably reflects what I read, watch, and listen to, thus incorporating my slurs and my passions as well as what amuses and disturbs me. These sonnets were assembled using nonce patterns or number schemes; by ear, notion, or loose association; by tense, lexis, tone or alliteration. Every sonnet matches its targeted average exactly. Think of Pound's 'dance of the intellect among words' then sub sentences for words'it is amongst these I move. The dance in question traces out a knot (better yet, a gnot) that holds together what might otherwise fly apart. I espouse only the sonnets, not any one line.

John Lowther's work appears in the anthologies, The Lattice Inside (UNO Press, 2012) and Another South: Experimental Writing in the South (U of Alabama, 2003). Held to the Letter, co-authored with Dana Lisa Young is forthcoming from Lavender Ink. John works in video, photography, paint and performance. His dissertation-in-progress tries to reimagine psychoanalysis with intersex and transgender lives as pointers toward our ever-expanding subjective potential.

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