A Sestina A Day Keeps The Illiterate Away.

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March 29, 2011 by Sez

My name is Sarah. I like sestinas. I like reading them and I like writing them.

As a result I have decided to write one a day for 100 days. I’m 16 days in so I will be transferring my archive so far over forthwith, and then updating daily.

Poets are often intimidated by the sestina. Its uncompromising structure can be daunting to attempt. I see them more as poetry sudoku. You put down your keywords first, and then fill in the poem. The story suggested by the six words is taking shape before you even start.

Sestinas are very difficult if you have an idea of what you want the poem to be about, and try to force it. The best way, I find is to let the keywords – and my subconscious –  do the talking.

A sestina is certainly easier to write than to explain.

Here are some links that may help.




As far as I can tell, the rules are so complicated that everyone has their own version. The keyword order in the envoi at the end seems to be a particular bone of contention.

I like the way I do them.





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