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« Another Occasional Poem Just for You [by Jennifer Michael Hecht] | Main | Shout Outs: GLORY HOLE | THE HOT TUB [by Amy Lawless] »

May 06, 2010


I love your piece, beautifully done! (And love the platypus poem too!) I love the form, I have written many sestinas, and unfortunately tore all of them up. Not a single one remains because I've never been happy with mine. Sonnets I can do with my eyes closed, but for some reason sestinas have defeated me.

Case in point: Here's a recent attempt 'The Time Traveller's Sestina', that turned into a 'The Time Traveller's Sonnet' - - Grrr!

Some day, some day...

I loooovvvve sestinas.

Jilly, I love sestinas too! We should develop a secret handshake to signify our affections.

Sam, thanks for the comments. I think you're on to something with the resonance between sestinas and sonnets. I think the need for a sestina to shift after the fourth stanza is very similar to a sonnet's volta between the first eight and the final six lines. And in Elizabethan sonnets, the closing couplet often uses the same compression techniques as an envoi.

Don't beat yourself up. A good sonnet's a lot better end result than a half-assed sestina! I know, having written a LOT of half-asses sestinas.

The sestina is one of my very favorite forms, though I have never heard of imposing a strict meter on it (that would make me sad as I am very very bad at meter!). When I was first learning about them, a poet friend told me that nouns were required for the end words (which I know now is not true) but I tend to pick nouns because it anchors the poem nicely. I like to research my nouns (yes, I always pick the words before I write the poem, seems to work well that way for me), and I end up having very fun poems that take on deep flavor. I've also found proper nouns are fantastic--I've used Istanbul and Katmandu (and with the research, the whole poem becomes like a history lesson!). Thanks for writing about this lovely form!

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That Ship Has Sailed
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"Lively and affectionate" Publishers Weekly


I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman


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