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A Poetic Look At: Sestina

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(c) 2013 Windy Johansen

What’s a Sestina?

It’s a rather long poetry form.

Oh eek. How long?

It’s 6 stanzas, each with 6 lines. You take the ending words of each of the lines in the first stanza, and use them again for ending each line in subsequent stanzas, in a specific order of…scrambling, you could say. (You are allowed to changed your ending words forms or not, depending on who you ask.)

Traditionally, it also possessed an envoi. That is a three line final stanza that used all the ending words in it. This also has a dictated order, but only for the ending words. (All ending words are used, but certain ones are placed at the end, and this is based on their position in the first stanza.

This form doesn’t dictate a meter.

You…what..it..purple monkey dishwasher…?

Ah….um…the best way to do this is to show you.

Okay. That sounds better, I’m sure it will make sense then.

It will.

I’m going to show you one of mine from several years ago. All I can say for it is that it follows the form. (The end words in the first stanza are italicized, to better help you understand.)

My Confessional Sestina
Let me contribute my opinion.
Sestinas in poetry workshops
may not be an opportunity
to witness gems of taste and form,
but it is the job of the teacher
to show the value of balance.

The job is one of balancing
form and spirit, with no fear of opinion
outside, strengthening students by teaching
confidence in the personal workshop
of the mind. In poetry, form
opens the passage of creative opportunity.

The opportunity
of the student is to learn to balance
the scaffolding of form
with the flesh of opinion.
In a workshop,
this skill is what they try to teach.

It offers those who teach
and those who are taught opportune
time to work on and shop in the workshop
for words and phrases to balance
the shimmer of opinion
on the strength of form.

This strong form
Must be taught
So it can support opinion
without caging creative opportunity.
This balance
invites a ennobling workshop.

In a truly ennobling workshop
the learning of form
brings balance
to the work being taught.
It gives the student the opportunity
to form their own opinion.

It is the two which form the balance
in a workshop meant to give opportunity
for people to teach themselves their own opinion.

Now I get it.

I was hoping you would. :)

Helpful links:
http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/5792
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sestina

About rootedphoenix

I am the owner and blogger on this site. Hi! :D I like sparkles, sweets, and being nice. But I also laugh at snarky things. So I'm a work in progress.
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