Winter 2010 Poetry Tournament: Final Round

Sestinas!

For the gold, Archi vs Bill... you have one week to write the dreaded Sestina. Yay!

So, your due date is, let’s say next Wednesday at noon.

I can’t WAIT to see this done. It sounds really challenging, so I’m not going to add any cool extra requirements for you. Just write the best darn sestina you can write, and then for the rest of your life, you will be a person who has written a sestina, and that in itself will be pretty awesome. I’m going to (try to) write one along with you, and I encourage everyone else to give it a try as well. I looked around online, and difficult as it seems, there are some people out there writing them. And if other people are doing it, then BY GOLLY! we can do it too.

Okay, the rules of the Sestina are the following.

There are 6 stanzas, each made up of 6 lines; Plus, a tercet at the end. The last word of each line will be repeated throughout the poem, structured like this:

(1)
This is a line that ends with the word One
This is a line that ends with the word Two
This is a line that ends with the word Three
This is a line that ends with the word Four
This is a line that ends with the word Five
This is a line that ends with the word Six

(2)
This is a line that ends with the word Six
This is a line that ends with the word One
This is a line that ends with the word Five
This is a line that ends with the word Two
This is a line that ends with the word Four
This is a line that ends with the word Three

(notice the pattern? Just repeat that for every stanza. So the rest will look like:)

(3)
This is a line that ends with the word Three
This is a line that ends with the word Six
This is a line that ends with the word Four
This is a line that ends with the word One
This is a line that ends with the word Two
This is a line that ends with the word Five

(4)
This is a line that ends with the word Five
This is a line that ends with the word Three
This is a line that ends with the word Two
This is a line that ends with the word Six
This is a line that ends with the word One
This is a line that ends with the word Four

(5)
This is a line that ends with the word Four
This is a line that ends with the word Five
This is a line that ends with the word One
This is a line that ends with the word Three
This is a line that ends with the word Six
This is a line that ends with the word Two

(6)
This is a line that ends with the word Two
This is a line that ends with the word Four
This is a line that ends with the word Six
This is a line that ends with the word Five
This is a line that ends with the word Three
This is a line that ends with the word One

(Tercet)
This is One tercet with Three lines,
Not Four, and not Two,
It contains all Six words, In any order. High Five!

- - -

According to Wikipedia, ”English sestinas are usually written in iambic pentameter or another decasyllabic meter.” Um, but none of the ones I’ve found online are iambic pentameter or any discernable meter at all. 

Having never tried this before, I don’t know how ridiculously hard that would be, so I’ll say this: I’ll be SO impressed if you stick to a consistent meter, and the judges probably will too. But it’s not a requirement, so craft it however you want, within the already absurd guidelines of the 6 repeated words.

Last note: Most of the sestinas I’ve read will occasionally use variations of the repeated words. So if one of your words is “poem,” then the words “poems,” “poetry,” “poet,” etc. are acceptable uses of that word. 

The End

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