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Review: Sonarification (Poems I-XXII)

Sonarification: A Deep Dive into the Heart of Poetry

In the world of contemporary poetry, a new wave of writers is making waves, quite literally. The trend, dubbed “Sonarification,” involves crafting poems that not only resonate with the soul but also echo the profound depths of human experiences, much like sonar waves penetrate the deep seas. A selection of poems under this banner reveals a fascinating blend of introspection, spirituality, and a keen sense of the world around us.

Equally, there is a rich diversity in themes, styles, and imagery in “Sonarification,” by Harry Matthews. And the poet encourages you to write your own. The poems oscillate between introspective contemplations and bold forays into the realms of nature, spirituality, and human experience.

The Symphony of Depth and Diversity

One standout piece, “A Letter to a Young Poet after RM Rilke,” serves as a poignant meditation on sorrow and growth. Channelling Rilke’s depth, the poem reaches into the transformative power of suffering, with lines that resonate long after they’re read. This poem exemplifies the Sonarification technique, using language that reverberates through the layers of the reader’s consciousness.

In a similar vein, “The Journey from Shropshire to Self” takes readers on a deeply personal journey, exploring identity and change. The poet’s evolution from conformity to self-awareness is depicted with an honesty that is both brave and vulnerable. The transition from “Tory pinstripes” to “threadbare truths” metaphorically illustrates a shedding of old skins, a theme that echoes loudly in the current socio-political climate.

“The Forgotten Chamber” is a haunting exploration of memory and loss. The poem’s reflective tone, combined with its evocative imagery, creates a narrative that is both poignant and deep. The lines “You roamed the dark interiors, vast / Where saddened souls in chains regress,” offer a stark yet beautiful portrayal of the human psyche.

Sonar Waves in the Spiritual Realm

“Faith” stands out for its vivid portrayal of a battle between light and darkness. The poem’s contrast between the tangible “pit of totality” and the ethereal “rose virgins” and “holy acolytes” resonates with a spiritual sonar, navigating through the depths of faith and despair.

In contrast, “Ill Maestro” offers a blend of spiritual guidance and personal introspection, suggesting a journey toward wisdom and understanding. The incorporation of religious references adds layers to the poem, allowing readers to dive deeper into its meaning.

The Natural World in Sonarification

“Greenfinch by the Wheat Field” and “Gregynog” bring the natural world into sharp focus, using vivid imagery to create a sense of place that is both specific and universal. These poems resonate with a naturalistic sonar, echoing the interconnectedness of all living things.

Sonarification: Echoing Depths in Modern Poetry

The emerging trend of Sonarification in poetry continues to ripple through the literary world, with poets using language to navigate the depths of human experience, spirituality, and the complexities of the natural and social world. Here’s a closer look at more poems grouped under thematic headings:

Mystical and Psychological Depths

“Lone Prophet” is distinguished for its mystical elements, this poem adeptly interweaves perceptions of the mundane with the spiritual, creating a blur between the two realms. “He is like the moonshine obscuring the surrounding stars; we can’t quite see them…” “Après Coup” is a vivid exploration of the psyche, this piece critiques societal norms and reflects on the impact of external influences on the journey towards self-realization. “The blow softened my mind like rainforest mushrooms, / Colours and fantasies opened; the tree spoke…” “Astray” is a spiritual journey rich in religious and mythological symbolism, portraying the transformation from darkness to enlightenment. “Before demon growl and catcalls were sharp, now silent; / Each vulture christened the betrayal of villagers.”

Inner Turmoil and Human Relationships

“Belias” is a nocturnal journey into self-doubt and the search for truth, weaving cosmic imagery into a personal narrative of turmoil. “Stars dance in the night, turquoise and red, / Signalling the time, the watershed.” “Cantata” delves into the emotional turbulence of human relationships, with themes of love, envy, and rejection set against a natural backdrop. “‘You disgust me’, he abraded, / Ashamed of the more tender boy who / Felt a knife twist in his heart.” Debauchee is bold exploration of hedonism and self-discovery, tackling the complexities of desire and the pursuit of pleasure with vivid, sensual imagery. “I saw the world of love through the débauchée’s eyes – / Oysters frightened me, I looked bashful at the Chablis–”

Good, Evil, and the Natural World

“Shark’s Triangle” is a metaphorical voyage juxtaposing malevolence and benevolence, illustrating the struggle between good and evil in a maritime setting. “In waters deep, where evil’s gaze is cast, / A gorgon’s glare, a megalodon vast.” “Elegy written in portmanteau” is a dreamlike blend of natural and fantastical imagery, this poem plays with whimsy and depth, creating a layered narrative, drawing on influences as disparate as Lewis Carrol and Tove Jansson. “From the distant slithy mound and pill box, / Where the Bandersnatch wails at the moon.” “Faith” starkly portrays the battle between good and evil, this piece contrasts darkness and light with impactful imagery.” In the grasp of the Almighty, / the barrier fell, Under twilight’s gaze, / The Foe, once hidden, quelled.” “Obdios” is a deeply personal exploration of faith and destiny, expressing a profound connection to the divine.

Ecological Messages and Cultural Reflections

“Medusa’s Sea” is an allegory on human greed and environmental destruction, enriched with mythological references that add timelessness to its urgent ecological message. “In this world of climate’s roar, / Man’s greed hitting the core.” “Muskroot” reaches into the senses and the natural world, this poem explores the depths of human experience and our intrinsic connection to nature. “I savoured nard’s embrace, its love profound, / Amidst pink bellflowers, its fragrance found.” “Omnipotent” is epic narrative blending spiritual and cosmic themes, this poem impresses with its vast thematic depth and scope. “Down came the wall, dark and dire, / Mountains bowed low, in celestial fire.” “Ode on the death of a Samurai” is a vivid, dramatic tale that interweaves historical and cultural elements, emotionally engaging and resonant. “The startled Samurai, tumbling, / Shocked by the fast-flowing river below.” “Amsterdam” is a personal journey through Amsterdam, capturing the city’s essence with vivid imagery and deep emotional layers. “‘He’s back,’ says Hans, wide-eyed surprise, / As I vomit Jenever, a wild adventure in disguise.” “Parvelinker” is a unique exploration of Amsterdam culture, blending local and universal aspects with striking imagery and cultural references. “Parlevinker’s slippery eels, / Are skewered over the fire, ‘freshly smoked.’”

These poems, under the Sonarification banner, reveal the multifaceted nature of contemporary poetry. They are characterised by their ability to echo through the depths of human consciousness, much like sonar waves, uncovering hidden truths and insights in their wake.


The Sonarification trend in poetry is a testament to the enduring power of the written word to explore the deepest recesses of human experience. These poems, with their layered meanings and resonant imagery, invite readers to dive deep, echoing the sonar waves that reveal the hidden contours of the ocean floor. As this trend continues to evolve, it holds the promise of unearthing even more profound insights into the human condition.

Ὠκεανοῦ, ὅς περ γένεσις πάντεσσι τέτυκται:

Oceanus, from whom they all are sprung

Hom. Il. 14.245

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