Black walnut trees dropped their green-black fuzzy bulbs on Aunt Ruth’s matted lawn, past where their knotty roots rose up out of the ground like the elbows and knees of dirty children suntanned dark and covered with scars.
—Dorothy Allison, from Bastard out of Carolina
Poets think in lines, prose writers in sentences; the best of both work from sound to sense, with an ear for the music in their compositions. S for Sentence celebrates lyricism in prose, the play and craft at work in the artful sentence. We post a sentence a month along with comments by a guest writer on the craft that shapes it, on what makes it great. In one or two sentences.
—Pearl Abraham, Editor
Asonance and consonance make this sentence sing. The long -e sound appears in six words---three as -ee (trees, green, knees) and three use the end -y (fuzzy, knotty, dirty). There is also the long a assonance in “black,” “matted,” and “past,” the long e of “where” and “their,” the –oo in “Ruth” and “roots,” the long –o of “rose” and “elbows,” the -ah “dark” and “scars.” Examples of consonance include the repetition of ‘t,’ 18 times in this one sentence (I’m including the double -t of “matted” and “knotty”); ‘r’ appears 15 times (alliteratively paired in “roots rose”); and then there’s the ‘kn’ combination (“knotty” and “knees”). The six most frequently occurring consonants in this sentence are t, r, n, s, l, and d. Interestingly, all these letters appear in Dorothy Allison’s name as well as in the title of the novel, Bastard out of Carolina, which features this sentence. Allison has a sort of innate ear for these letters/sounds given their continued presence in her life, every time she read, wrote, or heard her own name.
— Baylea Jones essays have appeared on Autostraddle and Buzzfeed, and her fiction was a finalist for the 2017 New Letters Prize and received an honorable mention from Glimmer Train.