Thursday, February 03, 2005

The Six Minute Sestina

The keys to this exercise are contemplation and brevity.

1) Think of someone or something you are obsessed with (3 min).
2) Write a six word sentence that captures what you are feeling (1 min).
3) Number these words 1 through 6 and place them in the standard sestina format, one word per line (2 min):
1,2,3,4,5,6
6,1,5,2,4,3
3,6,4,1,2,5
5,3,2,6,1,4
4,5,1,3,6,2
2,4,6,5,3,1
2,5,4,3,6,1
4) Read what you have written, and discover the interesting and many-layered dis-orderings and re-orderings the magic of the sestina has wrought!

Here is one I wrote using this method. It’s for Valentine’s day (Will I get chocolate, or roses? . . . Hmmm, that’s another six-word sentence. Another sestina!).

Valentine Sestina

So
I
love
always.
Will
you?

You
so
will
I
always
love.

Love
you
always,
so
I
will.

Will
love
I
you
so
always?

Always
will
so
love
you
I.

I
always
you
will
love
so.

I will
always love
you so.

10 comments:

C. Dale said...

You really are trying to kill us all, aren't you?

Peter said...

LOL
Yes, C Dale, killing you softly!
Seriously . . . . I use the word play exercises as a way to loosen up. Like a runner stretching before a run, a violinist practicing her scales before playing the Mozart. At least that's how I hope it works for me, and for others.

Suzanne said...

OMG Peter, I *love* these exercises you're posting. I love this kind-of stuff, I guess I'm a little dorky. (wink). Thanks for these.

aimee said...

ah, the sestina is the one that always killed me. :( the envoy at the end! argh! but since I make my students do one (or a villanelle, their choice!) each semester, I have found it actually relaxing now...like your warm-up stretches somehow. thx for your sweet valentine example!

Peter said...

Hi Suzanne, Aimee:
Glad you like the exercises! I do, too, but I am never sure if they are just too silly and light-weight, or somehow fun and useful. I am of two minds. (at least)
--Peter

Charles said...

I like this idea.

Guess my Sunday won't be so boring after all. :)

barbara jane said...

i did it! i got over my fear, and i did it! :-)

Daniel Nester said...

Keep going, everybody -- and send them to McSweeney's when you're all done!! Love, D

Kay Weeks said...

I certainly agree with the riff on obsession! A rollicking form--my favorite one, in fact. Am about to write another. Always forget the numbering. Thanks for your blog!

Kay Weeks said...

Here's one of mine, Peter.

What I Want

Not some old man on top
Flat like a cookie in my kitchen
Or pushing his wheelchair
Or shopping in deadly harmony.
NO, I want the ocean sounds
And the wind in my hair!

Just imagine your thinning hair
With very little on top
And you making those doggie sounds
As you search for a bone in my kitchen,
All angry and devoid of harmony
Like a wheel-less wheel chair.

Please sit down in this folding chair
And let me stroke your failing hair
In some pretense of harmony
With no discussion of who’s on top!
Just savor that Mommy aroma in my kitchen
And murmur some soothing sounds!

I want the ocean sounds
While reading in a canvas beach chair
Out of this jail-like kitchen
That salt breeze in my hair
Wearing nothing on top
And alone in total harmony.

Can two ever know harmony?
Or do you hear fighting sounds
With each one vying for top,
Sitting in separate chairs
Each pulling their hair
And wanting to be in “Martha’s Kitchen”?

Well, I’m sure out of the kitchen,
Alone now and sensing total harmony
Gently stroking my own hair,
Writing poetry in a slat-backed chair
Eating rice pudding with a cherry on top
And hearing my own purring sounds.

Deliciously owning this perfect chair
My selves in perfect harmony
Dozing to those sucking, rolling ocean sounds.

KAY D. WEEKS, FEBRUARY, 2010