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A Poetic Look At: Sestina

kaleidoscope

(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

A Poetic Look At: Haiku

Kaleidoscope

(c) 2013 Windy Johansen

So…why haiku this time?

Because they are popular, and I love them. Additionally, they are an interesting example of how other languages handle and organize sounds and words into poetry. In English, we use meter. Other languages do not use meter, or do not use it as English does.

But I know about haiku.

That’s great! It helps to build on something that we already know when trying to learn new things.

Okay, so…how do haiku work?

(I know I was taught a fair bit about haiku as a child, but I am going to talk as if you all don’t know many of these things. Therefore no one will be lost or confused.)

Haiku is a Japanese poetic form. Haiku have a single stanza of three lines. Line one is five syllables, line two is seven syllables, line three is five syllables again. This is what most people are taught.

In researching this, I discovered that haiku don’t have three lines when written in Japanese. They have only one; the three lines in English-language haiku point back to the three phrases that haiku have in Japanese.

Syllables, Morae and On

Japanese syllables are not syllables, but on (or morae). Japanese on are all the same length. Stress is more or less the same across all on. Since Japanese is a tonal language, you may hear high-tone on as stress. (Japanese has two tones. The other is low-tone.)

Haiku were once referred to as hokku. They grew out of renku (hokku is still the name for the first verse of a renku poem), and were viewed in that context for a time. In order to truly separate haiku from renku, Masaoka Shiki, a haiku author, suggested the name of haiku (an abbreviation of haikai no ku).

You told me that every poetic form has a recipe. What’s the recipe this time?

On (which we already talked about), a kigo, and the idea of kireji.

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A Poetic Look At: Poetic Forms

Kaleidoscope

(c) 2013 Windy Johansen

So what’s a poetic form?

A recipe of sorts. One like sugar cookies. Rad, sweet, sugar cookies. (That was my sweet tooth talking, sorry. :) ) It takes several ingredients, mixed in a certain way, giving you an expected result, but with room for variation.

Sounds fine, but what’s wrong with formless poetry?

Not one thing. I write in a style that doesn’t seem to fit a form. It seems like it fits free verse the most, but I don’t know for sure.

But it’s fun to know how to work in new forms. You can enjoy both an old friend and get to love a new one. No one was talking about replacing anything. I’d be sad if you did!

That’s okay, then. What are the parts of the recipe?

Structurally speaking: words, meter, line, and stanzas. (There’s also the idea of half-lines, but they’re not something I’ve heard too much about. We’ll probably talk about them in the midst of a form that makes use of them.)

Stylistically speaking: mood, subject, and degree of repetition. Repetition doesn’t have to be bad, by the way. It can make a given idea stick better, or it can really annoy the socks off people.

We’ll talk about structures today. Stylistic things are really best talked about in the context of a given form. (Repetition is the special one that will get its own post.)

*hands out cookies* (It seems like a good time to share those. :) )

(Cookie) Center of the Matter

Words – Eggs/Flavorings

They’re …well, what you’re reading here. Not too bad so far. They can carry quite a lot in themselves, without any intentional meter. A big plate of eggs, with a bit of salt and pepper is nice. But we wanted cookies, so on to the other ingredients.

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Abuse is Many Things

This blog is still quite new. I still need to make posts about the things this blog is supposed to be about, and I will do that.

However the subject of abuse in its many forms is a subject that’s important to me. I’ve been abused several times over the course of my life. I was verbally abused, never beaten.

Just because they didn't hit you, doesn't mean they didn't hurt you. Words hurt.

Words hurt. More than I want them to. Artwork (c) 17 August 2013, Windy Johansen.

I was called worthless. Homeless. Lazy. Fat. Stupid. Told that my disability wasn’t real and that I should just do whatever was wanted, because I could, but I was just…holding out on them, I guess. Treated as an imbecile. Treated like a liar. Screamed at for breathing too loudly. Belittled. Spoken to condescendingly. Patronized.

I’ve had people act as if I was mud on their shoe.I’ve been treated like I didn’t matter. I’ve been told that it was okay if I died. I’ve had my religion bashed. (I suppose that happens to everyone. It doesn’t get nicer just because billions go through it.)

I’ve had the facts from real doctors ignored by teachers. I’ve had teachers and administrators ignore my lawful 504 plan and do whatever the heck they felt justified in doing. I had people in my school years lie about my abilities just so they didn’t have to provide services that I needed (they said certain test scores were better than they actually were). That 504 plan should have been an IEP. I should have had special education services. I did not.

I wound up dropping out of school one month from the end of sophomore year. I wonder if having my needs met would have helped.

I have been told that it was only words, that I should just take it. That I was weak. That I should move in with one of the people who’d abused me. It was only words, after all. I should just ignore it.

I guess if you’re poor and desperate, abuse is okay. I mean, it keeps you from having to do anything, so I guess it’s okay. Except it isn’t.

There are two someones who would give me a panic attack if I ever saw them. I was still supposed to visit one of them, because someone thought I should.

Abuse is more than fists, and more than someone viciously raping another. Few people know I was sexually abused. Given how they speak when I talk about “just” verbal abuse, I’m not about to share that! I would be told that it wasn’t enough.

And since you are unlikely to know me from Adam, I feel I can share this.

Words hurt. Stealing kisses is only cute if you’re not pressuring anyone into them.

And it takes a superhuman to leave abusive situations. I feel it is because too few care. They’re not the ones who are supposed to care for you. I know it is because abuse makes you feel too worthless to leave, and the carelessness of so many can’t be helping.

I’ve left abusive situations, only to have my intelligence called into question. I left those situations because my sanity was in danger, but apparently I was meant to get a job, set myself up, and then leave. I should have stayed until I had money to leave.

Because it wasn’t really abuse. Except that it was.

Because I was a perfectly fine, perfectly healthy adult who simply didn’t want to work, and shouldn’t be helped because I needed tough love. Except I wasn’t fine. I wasn’t healthy. I wanted to work, but I couldn’t. I was (and still am) too sick to work. I needed someone to care that I was being abused. If I was well, I’d never have fallen into any of those situations.I needed someone to care.

I got a lot of anger, and a lot of people talking over me to tell me what was what. They knew I could work. They knew I had every ability to do everything just the same way they did. They knew I was just being lazy, and asking for handouts…and worse, asking for them when I did not need them.

I don’t trust people anymore. If you ever wonder why, this is why. My inner monologue of “fark you” once someone’s crossed the line is what saves my bacon every single time I fall into some other abusive situation. Is it nice to keep this idea around? I don’t care. I’m the one who has to get away, and on my own steam. I was thirteen when I learned the sad truth that people who should give even one tenth of a rip about you so often don’t.

I can only imagine what people must go through when they have the stubbornness stolen from them. Not only is there precious little support for anyone, but leaving an abuser can be just as deadly as staying in some situations. I was lucky. My abusers were just jerks. Many are far more than that.

This video tells you why so many stay in abusive situations.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V1yW5IsnSjo

Did you watch it? It’s important to watch it.

The people who are trying to leave abusive relationships are not the same people they were when they entered that abusive relationship. Their psychological state is not the same. They are afraid. They have likely been told that if they ask for help or report, they or their loved ones will be killed.

Children are abused. Women are abused. Men are abused. Disabled are abused. The elderly are abused. Poor, wealthy, American, Arab, Asian, European, Native American, Australian, African, Pacific Islander? Abused.

Nobody should be abused. No one, No one deserves such treatment. No one.

DSLR infographic.

DSLR cheat sheet

DSLR cheat sheet. 

(from http://community.digitalmediaacademy.org/ and http://livinginthestills.tumblr.com/)

edit: There are prints for sale of this right here. Support this guy and his work.

This is a glorious bit of info, but can somebody link me to its source article/post? I’d love to have more information on this.

I really wish I could afford a DSLR. Knowing me, I’d just wish my Olympus point and shoot had more manual control options.

edit!: Found it. Two links. Here, and here. :D