Friday, March 06, 2015

The Poetry Seven Attempt Sestinas

This month my poetry sisters and I are working on writing Sestinas. It's a very difficult form to get the knack for, partly because the end words are extremely restricted. Each of the six-line stanzas use the same words in a spiral repetition. The best sestinas, IMO, tell a story. My favorite one is this by Elizabeth Bishop. Kelly has a wonderful explanation with tips on how to write one here.

For our sestinas we chose twelve words in common, each of us picking the six we wanted to use. We then got down to business with only a little moaning and complaining about the struggle to wrangle those six words into something making sense and beauty. I pulled up a memory of a fishing trip from my childhood and twisted it into shape with the end words "here, wind, turn, break, wave, up". My poem has gone through many revisions, and I'm not sure it's done yet. Here it is:

  Hornets 


Good fishing here.
From the canoe our lines wound
across the creek, turning
slowly under the water, breaking
the line of waves.
Gradually the breeze picked up.

Drifting downstream, you never think of up.
How it’s a long fight back. Hearing
the gentle slap of larger waves,
we still didn’t notice the wind
until a bird broke
the silence and the day turned.

Years later and still stung, we will turn,
look at each other and wonder, what was up?
What was it that broke?
If only we could have heard
then the warning in the rising wind
or seen the trout slip away under the waves.

We thought we knew those waves.
We knew how fish calmly turn
away from the hook, but not how the cool wind
easily tosses the line up
clear into the trees. Here
we were, tangled in line that wouldn’t break.

To get that tackle we had to break
a hornet’’s nest and beat their wave
of fury. This bend in the creek here
they thought to own, to turn
into a paper castle up
in trees rocked by wind.

Hornets are at home in wind.
One cast is all it took to break
the peace. One hook tossed up;
flicked quickly over the waves
where hornets, trout, and children turn
thinking it’s always their own HERE.

Now one fights the wind, and we all ride the wave.
We wait for the break when everything turns.
Every morning we look up and we are all still here.

  -Andromeda Jazmon


Please visit the blogs of my Poetry Sisters to read their sestinas:

Next month we are working writing the form Raccontino, which I have never done before. I've never been fond of rhymed couplets, so...  should be interesting. For today you can hop right over to Robyn Campbell's blog, where she is hosting Friday Poetry!




9 comments:

laurasalas said...

"with only a little moaning and complaining about the struggle to wrangle those six words" Only a little? You lie, lie, lie. Oh, wait. YOU probably only moaned a little. Others of us, a lot!

laurasalas said...

Andi, there is so much to love here. I get a real sense of the wondering we do about our lives and how, if we're not HERE, if we're not attentive, it drifts/changes/becomes what we did not plan.

A few of my favorite bits:

warning in the rising wind

Here
we were, tangled in line that wouldn’t break

Every morning we look up and we are all still here.

Thank you for being brave:>)

Robyn Campbell said...

Love all the sestinas I have seen today. This one took me back to my childhood. :-) I have a feeling you'll do great on the Raccontino.

tanita✿davis said...

Man, I thought that the last stanza was my favorite - but this revision, Andi - you did GOOD.

One cast is all it took to break
the peace. One hook tossed up;
flicked quickly over the waves
where hornets, trout, and children turn
thinking it’s always their own HERE.


Oh, don't we all think it's our own here? This, Andi, shows real talent.

And also, there was MUCH whining on this poem. MUCH!

Kelly Fineman said...

These two stanzas kill me with their weight and meaning:

Drifting downstream, you never think of up.
How it’s a long fight back. Hearing
the gentle slap of larger waves,
we still didn’t notice the wind
until a bird broke
the silence and the day turned.

Years later and still stung, we will turn,
look at each other and wonder, what was up?
What was it that broke?
If only we could have heard
then the warning in the rising wind
or seen the trout slip away under the waves.

Wonderful, evocative work, Andi!

Andromeda Jazmon Sibley said...

Thank you, kind friends! I really did enjoy working on this one, but boy howdy it was hard!

Tara Smith said...

Like Kelly, I found myself really pausing in those two stanzas, marveling.

Robyn Hood Black said...

Congrats to ALL of you for taking on this form.

Really enjoyed this - the voice, the scene set, the openness of it, not to mention the language. "Drifting downstream, you never think of up" - great line.

Mary Lee said...

I know we're not supposed to pick favorites, but I think this might be mine. Maybe because I can connect to the fishing and canoeing.

It does crack me up the way you all have your own take on the grumbling that came with this form!