She was born in December in Baraboo or thereabouts—small, still, blue, a girl, and, by some trick of oxygen, alive.
—Dawn Raffle, from Carrying the Body
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
—Stephanie Grant, Guest Editor
This short sly sentence is stuffed with sound and rhythm. After the B of born, a single syllable word, three three-syllable B words follow, all of them dactyls, a stressed, unstressed, unstressed rhythm: December, Baraboo, and thereabouts. These are big words and they reference large amounts of time and space, but then, as the sentence unfolds, we get small, still, blue, girl and trick, one-syllable words that create a marching rhythm, sharpening our focus on details both urgent and intimate. Raffle employs assonance, alliteration, sibilance, and consecution, but not so much that you're pulled out of the moment. Most of us don't ask much of pronouns and prepositions; hers have a job. After the dash, she calls upon the L sound, but varies the placement, middle and end rather than beginning, so it doesn't feel repetitive. All this is accomplished with mostly humble words, with the exception of the flashy exotic Baraboo, which turns out to be a real place in humble Wisconsin, not in far-off Australia, as I thought.
– Anya Yurchyshyn is the author of My Dead Parents (forthcoming, March 2018)