Thursday, April 22, 2010


Poetry. It's one of my favorite distractions.

I began writing poetry as a means to distract myself from writing novels. Eventually, I began to explore traditional forms such as villanelle and sestina and my heart stuck fast to those powerful rhyme sequences.

In a recent competition heald by the Abilene Writers Guild, two of my entries placed well--my villanelle "Fleet Winged Fate" was honorably mentioned and my sestina "Six Words For Edgar" (a tribute to my dear Poe) was originally announced as second place winner, although a subsequent follow-up from the contest coordinator actually contained the news it had, in fact, won first place. (She even sent me a shiny blue ribbon for it.)

At any rate, my faith in traditional poetic forms had been greatly rewarded and I find myself getting distracted once more.

Sestinas are poems with a strict form: They use six stanzas of six lines each and end with a tercet. They center about the repetitive use of six words, which are used as the ending word of each line in a specific sequence. Those same six words appear in the final tercet, two words to each line.

The order of the end-word use is a non-negotiable pattern (although the ending tercet offers more flexibility.) Assigning the numbers one through six to the key words, the pattern is 123456, 615243, 364125, 532614, 451362, and 246531. My first sestina took longer to get the words in order than it did to write the lines.

That leads me to this wonderful aid in formulating sestinas. Basically, plug in your end words and the sestina creator will spit out your template. Headache eliminated.

Well, reduced, anyways. You still have iambic pentameter with which to contend. =)