Illicit love is all about passion and epiphany, and so is my anthology of Sonnets for Sinners
. In confecting these 49 epiphanic sonnets into one tasty bonbon, I learned that illicit love is a form of madness that can ultimately lead to level-headed sanity. Here's how it happened:
Five sonnets by the "other woman" in my love-triangle novel, Chancey on Top, attracted much praise, so I hoped to showcase them elsewhere. I found anthologies dedicated to love or eroticism, but none to illicit love, so Sonnets for Sinners seemed a natural.
As a long-term life coach — to both corporate chiefs and prison inmates — I decided to add a page of commentary for each sonnet to show the poem's structure, the poet's mindset, and the stage reached on the heart's journey of illicit love.
My work with corporate leaders had given me real-world insight into how and why apparently upright citizens succumb to the madness of an illicit love. I knew, also, that those in my prison classes incarcerated for domestic abuse keenly identify with sonnet 129, which explores the madness of desire and addiction; 116, on the value of unconditional love; and 144, on the notion of grudging forgiveness. As I included these sonnets, and more, I noted that 144 might prove an "Aha moment" for Hilary Clinton Umdash; and 121 for her errant husband.
Then the story of Governor Mark Sanford's "Appalachian Trail affair" hit the front pages. When the heartfelt love emails to and from his mistress wound up online, I decided to tweak their lines into sonnets, add them to my collection, and offer a perspective on the affair. This worked well so I gathered, distilled, and dissected public domain textings and utterances from other prominent triangulists. Prince Charles, Camilla, and Lady Diana made the cut, as did Senator John Edwards, and wronged wives Elizabeth Edwards and Jenny Sanford. Finally, just as the book was going to press, the Tiger Woods scandal broke, and my publisher halted the presses so that I could add one more sonnet, "Tiger Balm," along with my take on his dalliancing and downfall.
At the end of this writing journey, my hope is that I'll have provided hope and enlightenment for anyone unsighted by the blindness of illicit love.