My classmate, fellow teacher, and blogger friend from Inside the Gradebook opened my eyes to this hidden Internet gem recently and I have not been able to look away.
There exists a Tumblr account that publishes Top 40 radio hits rewritten as Shakespearean sonnets; every Thursday a new “pop sonnet” is published. Expect to see such classics as “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” by Cyndi Lauper and “I Kissed a Girl” by Katy Perry adapted into 14 lines and iambic pentameter. Time Magazine even thinks this whole thing is worth noting.
Not only is this an incredible way to investigate literary interpretation and adaptation in the high school classroom, it is also a great addition to any study into the affordances and constraints of the Shakespearean sonnet as a genre. The pop sonnets follow the genre norms flawlessly: three quatrains and a couplet following the abab, cdcd, efef, gg rhyme scheme, 14 lines, and iambic pentameter. The author uses Shakespearean vocabulary, turns of phrase, and register, making these pop sonnets a fun and creative way to get students who are new to Shakespeare used to his style and language. The practical classroom applications for these creative and funny poems are extensive.
We’ll never know for sure, but I think Shakespeare would be a huge fan of pop sonnets. He looks like the kind of guy who would have gotten a real kick out of all this.