What's involved: write a sestina exploring the theme of change/rebirth/resurrection/tranformation/metamorphosis (for Spring!) and then post it in the comments section of this entry (you will need a Blogger account). The deadline for entries is Sunday, May 31, 2009, after which our fair and impartial judge will select winners- who will be notified via Blogger within one week. Prizes include Esteban's and Kolache Factory gift certificates!
I hear you thinking "Ok, sounds fun- but what the heck is a sestina?" Well, that is the fun part- it's only just about the most complicated poetry form in the English language....
A sestina (also, sextina, sestine, or sextain) is a highly structured poem consisting of six six-line stanzas followed by a tercet (called its envoy or tornada), for a total of thirty-nine lines. The same set of six words ends the lines of each of the six-line stanzas, but in a different order each time; if we number the first stanza's lines 123456, then the words ending the second stanza's lines appear in the order 615243, then 364125, then 532614, then 451362, and finally 246531. This organization is referred to as retrogradatio cruciata ("retrograde cross"). These six words then appear in the tercet as well, with the tercet's first line usually containing 1 and 2, its second 3 and 4, and its third 5 and 6 (but other versions exist, described below). English sestinas are usually written in iambic pentameter or another decasyllabic meter. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sestina)
from the Academy of American Poets
Humorous sestinas from McSweeney's Internet Tendency
and finally, an example:
Sestina of the Tramp-Royal
by Rudyard Kipling
First published in The Seven Seas (1896).
Speakin' in general, I 'ave tried 'em all,
The 'appy roads that take you o'er the world.
Speakin' in general, I 'ave found them good
For such as cannot use one bed too long,
But must get 'ence, the same as I 'ave done,
An' go observin' matters till they die.
What do it matter where or 'ow we die,
So long as we've our 'ealth to watch it all —
The different ways that different things are done,
An' men an' women lovin' in this world —
Takin' our chances as they come along,
An' when they ain't, pretendin' they are good?
In cash or credit — no, it aren't no good;
You 'ave to 'ave the 'abit or you'd die,
Unless you lived your life but one day long,
Nor didn't prophesy nor fret at all,
But drew your tucker some'ow from the world,
An' never bothered what you might ha' done.
But, Gawd, what things are they I 'aven't done?
I've turned my 'and to most, an' turned it good,
In various situations round the world —
For 'im that doth not work must surely die;
But that's no reason man should labour all
'Is life on one same shift; life's none so long.
Therefore, from job to job I've moved along.
Pay couldn't 'old me when my time was done,
For something in my 'ead upset me all,
Till I 'ad dropped whatever 'twas for good,
An', out at sea, be'eld the dock-lights die,
An' met my mate — the wind that tramps the world!
It's like a book, I think, this bloomin' world,
Which you can read and care for just so long,
But presently you feel that you will die
Unless you get the page you're readin' done,
An' turn another — likely not so good;
But what you're after is to turn 'em all.
Gawd bless this world! Whatever she 'ath done —
Excep' when awful long — I've found it good.
So write, before I die, "'E liked it all!"
(This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was was published before January 1, 1923)