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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Polishing My Sestina

Were I a tenured faculty member
in the English Language department
at an unnamed Ivy League college,

I’d sit in my bookcase-lined office
hour upon hour
polishing my sestina.

Poring over my thesauri
and assorted dictionaria,
I’d find the perfect six words
to end each of my perfect six lines
in my perfect six stanzas
and then tie up the final three lines
and I would make all
colleagues
breathlessly, righteously jealous.

But that’s not me.

I write
on the back of bill envelopes
during extended traffic lights,
in the margins
of board meeting agendas,
in walk-in closets
and in the ignored corners
of garrulous parties.

In a day full of
familial responsibilities
workplace obligations
and personal sacrifices
my writing is my leash
loosening,
the permission I give myself
to wander without direction
sans wristwatch.

Gently I drift
from anger to peace
memory to dream
here to
somewhere
not here.

I’ve enough rules
in my life
and I haven’t the time
the inclination
nor the energy

to write a damned
sestina.

(Republished for Ars Poetica at dversepoets.com  - go play!)

38 comments:

  1. believe me...i much prefer that poetry that is written on the back of bill envelopes and during extended traffic lights... everything too perfect is just too perfect for me if you know what i mean...smiles

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    1. Thanks - and I have no desire of what is too perfect either.

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  2. haha amen brother...we are of the same vein for sure...form boggles me often...i do like the challenge occassionally but most of my verse is just life happening and being willing to jot it down so it is one less thing to clutter my mind...smiles...

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  3. Hurrah!!!
    I loathe that six-lined monster.

    Can just picture you sitting in odd corners scribbling away with a smile on your face because you just found the perfect word in the middle of a perfect line.

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    1. And that is a conspiratorial smile as I will share my sniping insights and insults with you!

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  4. Haha... Loved the waltz through the different places and spaces that you grab a few moments to jot down your words. Somehow Mosk, even though you don't have time, inclination or energy to write a damned sestina, your poems are always 'spot on'

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    1. Thanks - yes the poem is the quickest form for me - like a sketch using words.

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  5. Love the contrast here. Sestinas definitely confine.

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    1. Thanks, and I have enough to contend with confining clothes, which I didn't buy that way.

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  6. Ahh...lovely.

    but this...

    my writing is my leash
    loosening,

    That for me, is the heart of writing(be it poetry or prose).

    ~Ais

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    1. When I started writing way back in my teens, it was at once liberating and empowering. It's perhaps the one bit of continuity in my life. Thanks.

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  7. I can relate, Mosk. It's only now that I have time that I play with the forms--and only when it's fun, which like any puzzle, if you have that sort of brain, sometimes it is. But the scrawled words on envelopes, the thought that comes just as you're falling asleep annoyingly screaming "Write me down, idiot, or lose me!" -- to me all that is straight talk from the void, the real messages to us that we need to transmit. Enjoyed this much.

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    1. What I especially like is finding scraps of stuff that didn't end up anywhere and being completely amused by my own invention. That's a real treat for me. thanks!

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    2. oOoo, you heard from Hedge, our reigning sestina queen!

      I hope you haven't been thinking I'd abandoned you, dear Mosky. The sun has been frying me all day and i come home and am good for nothing. But here I am, enjoying this effort of yours as much as all of them. Keep grabbing writing time whenever you can; some of us really look forward to the results!

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  8. I SO ADORE THIS POEM!!!!!!! It says it all, and so wonderfully! I'd take one of your poems scratched on an envelope over a polished perfect sestina any day!

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  9. I like the transition from rigidity in the first half to the fluidity of the latter...as well as the good dollop of scorn thrown in.

    Wander

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  10. Mosk!!! I love this. :) So perfect. I especially love the first half and the ending:

    "and I haven’t the time
    the inclination
    nor the energy

    to write a damned
    sestina"

    Bravo, my friend. Excellent work.

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  11. There is room for inspiration and perspiration and very occasionally the two need to work hand in hand... There is something about set poetry forms such as the sestinas that are worthwhile as exercises but rarely produce anything remotely memorable...for me it's a case of learning as much as you can and then try to forget it!

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  12. I get into so much trouble writing on anything available - often I find cryptic messages months later. Very nicely done!

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  13. You heard what the farmer had to say ...the lady has responded to his whining at my place...

    Wander

    Thanks for coming by...after reading this poem again I have to say that your view sits close to mine...

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  14. I can relate to writing without forms and rules...its a breath of fresh air, like freedom, like my imagination going wild ~

    Writing is my release too from real life challenges ~

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  15. Oh, yes..I can so relate..I'm not at all the learned intellectual..although do try my hand at forms just for the fun (or torture) of it. Right up my alley..excellent..and fun to read.

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  16. My comment disappeared..

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  17. Well stated, Mosk!

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  18. Wouldn't it be the grandest adventure to poke about the house of a beloved poet. Piecing together magic from sticky notes and the margins of their yellow pages. :) Thank you for this thought.

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  19. "my writing is my leash
    loosening," And you show this with the contrast and mood flip here. Cool.
    The purpose of form now and then is so we never forget the desirability of freedom. Good to have a leash to loosen and a wristwatch to take off as well as a napkin and/or envelop to write on.

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  20. My poetry is about the only thing I have some sort of control over... sometimes it controls me. I have nothing against forms, but they have something against me. My words just do not cooperate. They like to be free.
    I've written on just about anything you can imagine. Once, all I had close by was a piece of toilet paper.

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  21. Opportunist poetry wins every time! Your thoughts on sestina-writing made me roar with laughter, which you will understand if you look at my contribution for this prompt (I promise no sestina unless you're brave enough to follow a couple of links). Sometimes I revel in the discipline of form, and at others I let it all hang out. It all depends on the mood I'm in.

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  22. How perfectly you capture the truth in. "a writer writes"!

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  23. Commenting on an ipad is. Addening, it just stops..wanted you to know how fresh and hoest this is. Enjoyed it a lot

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  24. LOVE this Mosk! Enjoyed your meanderings through traffic lights, closets & "ignored corners of garrulous parties". Felt the "leash loosening" and I too, was able to "wander without direction sans wristwatch" and "drift from... here to somewhere not here." What fun -- excellent! :-)

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  25. writing can be a liberation

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  26. OH! My friend! Amen, amen!
    This:
    "my writing is my leash
    loosening,
    the permission I give myself
    to wander without direction
    sans wristwatch."

    I have gotten to the point where if a prompt even mentions "meter" or "iambic pentameter," I click over to another prompt, or write promptness. Very rarely am I in the mood to write with so many perimeters. I wrote a sestina. Once. I am still recovering. ;)

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  27. Oh I absolutely agree! And I particularly like,
    '...in the margins
    of board meeting agendas,
    in walk-in closets
    and in the ignored corners
    of garrulous parties.'
    and, 'my writing is my leash
    loosening'

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  28. how did i miss this one? love the way it comes full circle. i have never been one much for form myself. damned sestina indeed!

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