Project Sundog: Writing a Sestina

This week, those who are interested will be writing Sestinas. For those of you playing along at home, here are the rules.

Sestinas are written in six stanzas of size lines each – with a three line stanza at the close, called the envoi. No problem, huh?

Okay, here’s the problem. The six words that you innocently end your lines with, in the first stanza, must then be repeated in a very specific pattern in all the other stanzas! Choose your end-words carefully.

Here is an excellent article written about the maddening virtues of sestinas, by the sestina editor of McSweeney’s:
http://www.pw.org/mag/0501/newsnester.htm

For contemporary sestina examples – peruse McSweeney’s Internet Tendency:
http://www.mcsweeneys.net/links/sestinas/

You may decide for yourself whether the sestina will conform to any other rules (iambic pentameter? end-rhyme?) or be free-verse & loose in form.

Finally, this page includes a couple of my favorite sestinas by Elizabeth Bishop:
http://web.ics.purdue.edu/~azimmer6/407strucassign2.htm

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