Welcome to the website woven for wordaholics, logolepts, and verbivores. Carnivores eat meat; herbivores eat plants and vegetables; verbivores devour words. If you are heels over head (as well as head over heels) in love with words, tarry here a while to graze or, perhaps, feast on the English language. Ours is the only language in which you drive in a parkway and park in a driveway and your nose can run and your feet can smell.

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William Shakespeare is alive and well and living in America’s Finest City. The San Diego Shakespeare Society will soon be presenting its 18th annual evening of Celebrity Sonnets. On Monday, October 7, starting at 7:30 pm, local celebrities and performers will dramatize the Bard’s sonnets to a vast audience.

This year’s program will celebrate Shakespeare’s women, and almost all the presenters will possess xx chromosomes. The venue is the Donald and Darlene Shiley Stage at the Old Globe Theatre, our city’s oldest cultural institution. For details, go to www.sandiegoshakepearesociety.org.

The Elizabethan age was the age of the sonnet, it was during that period that this compact, highly structured poetic form landed in England and flourished, with William Shakespeare becoming its most luminous practitioner.

Robert Frost once said that writing poetry without rhyme or meter is “like playing tennis without a net.” Writers have long been fascinated by fixed poetic forms that impose a rigorous discipline, whose rhythmical patterns, regular rhyme schemes and limited number of lines force meticulous shaping of material. The Japanese, for example, love to write ultrabrief haikus, cobbled from only 17 carefully chosen syllables. In English, the sonnet has been the most popular and durable short poetic form.

The English, or Shakespearean, sonnet consists of 14 lines of iambic pentameter (five “feet” of unstressed-then-stressed syllables) broken into three quatrains (four-line units) and a couplet and cast in a rhyme scheme of abab cdcd efef gg. The three quatrains develop an idea or theme, and the final couplet puts forth a conclusion, a summary, an application, a narrowing of focus or even a surprise reversal.

The sonnet has endured and prevailed because it exerts tremendous pressure per square syllable and accomplishes a great deal in a small space. The compactness of the form radiates pleasure not for itself but for what it can do to shape and share the hum and buzz of life.

Early this past July, the legendary Jonathan McMurtry shuffled off his mortal coil and journeyed to that undiscovered country from whose born no traveler returns (Hamlet). He appeared in more than a dozen productions at North Coast Rep, working with them every season since 2005, including main stage shows, play reading events and co-productions at Mira Costa College, where he mentored future actors. Among his many acting awards, Jonathan especially treasured the 2008 Craig Noel Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre Award.

The heavens themselves blaze forth the death of princes (Julius Caesar), and so do we in the San Diego Shakespeare Society. Last year’s Celebrity Sonnets evening was specially dedicated to Jonathan. For this year’s program I have composed and will present this sonnet honoring San Diego’s leading man:

We band of Bardstruck brothers, sisters, too,
Bid farewell to our brilliant, radiant light.
For Jonathan the play’s the thing, ’tis true.
Star bright, the only star we see tonight.

This man performed in all of Shakespeare’s plays,
Assumed all parts from mossbacks to boys young.
He suited action to the word, gained praise
For speaking speeches trippingly on his tongue

All the world’s a stage for Jonathan,
At North Coast Rep, Old Globe, film and TV.
If acting be the food of love, play on!
Play on he did — a timeless legacy.

With joy and bursting hearts of exultation,
We give our friend a thunderous ovation.

Good-night, sweet prince, and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.