March 12, 2012 by Sez
Last year, I decided to write 100 Sestinas in 100 days, and I did. Just over, actually. You can read them at The Sarah’s Sestinas blog.
I did it because everyone seemed to have this awe about sestinas. This idea that because the form is so tight, so prescriptive, it must be impossible to do much with it.That you can’t get the form right AND be creative.
I disagree. I think using a poetry form, especially a prescriptive one like the sestina, adds structure and stability and, while your conscious mind is busy juggling word lengths and keyword sequences, your subconscious is all the more free to come out and play.
Also, it turns out it’s not all that difficult to write a sestina. The trick is to write a good one.
There were some flaws in my project last year, though. One is that I am chiefly a performance poet and sestinas do not lend themselves particularly well to performance. They are tough to memorise and the repetition and wordplay are best appreciated on the page.
They are also, despite my protestations above, quite hard work to crank out on a daily basis and I found myself too busy with the project to generate much in the way of performance material.
The other problem was that 100 days and 101 sestinas later, I’d kind of deskilled myself when it came to other poetry forms, and it took me a few months to get back in the saddle and start generating more varied poems.
Which leads me to this year’s project: 100 poetry forms in 100 days. I am pretty sure there ARE 100 poetry forms. I don’t know if they all have names, so once I’m done with the sonnets and cinquains (and, of course, sestinas) you may find me experimenting with ‘Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhyme type form’ or ‘Lion-And-Albert metre’ If I do this and you happen to know the proper name for the form, do please drop me a line.
I’ll also be doing variations on forms, so I’ll do all the different sonnet forms, a rhymed and an unrhymed sestina, things like that. If I really run out before day 100, I’ll just have to start inventing forms!
The project starts officially on my birthday: Wednesday the 14th of March 2012. I hope you will join me then.