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This innovative book is poetry collection and workbook, reference and map. Jules Nyquist offers us her own sestinas and those by others as well as easy-to-follow lessons on how to write your own. The sestina form is a labyrinth symbolic of life as we are being asked to live it today. I was completely absorbed.
--Margaret Randall, I Never Left Home: Poet, Feminist, Revolutionary.
I'm happy to have this collection of my sestinas incorporated into a book with fourteen exercises to help you write better sestinas. The labyrinth is used as a marker to weave our way through writing sestinas. If you are a beginner I clearly explain the form, and if you are aspiring to be a sestina troubadour, then this book will give you new insights on managing obsession, collecting teleutons and playing with different techniques.
The Sestina Playbook
Copyright 2020 by Poetry Playhouse Publications, Placitas, NM
I like this form so much I’m making a labyrinth out of the sestina pattern in the Jules’ Poetry Playhouse backyard.
Why form? Why six?
Sestina – Italian sesta (sixth)
Sestina is Italian for sesto, which means sixth.The sestina is a long, usually narrative poem that provides structure for obsessions or emotional complexities.It is six stanzas of six lines, plus an envoi (last stanza) of three lines, with a total length of 39 lines.The end words repeat in a set pattern and are called teleutons.The length of the lines can be short or long, but usually follow an iambic pentameter pattern. Length is usually consistent in a single poem, but not always.
The sestina can be a lonely form, as not all poets want to attempt them. Having support of other poets helps to generate new poems.Share this book with friends to start your own sestina group, or sign up for a Jules’ Poetry Playhouse class on sestinas.If your poet friends scoff at attempting a sestina, don’t be discouraged. You have this playbook to help you construct your own sestinas.There seems to be a tight clique of poets that like to write in form. Some like it, some don’t.
A sestina can be an embarrassment to formalists.
Do you ever consider yourself a formalist?
That is a fraught question! I struggle with that all the time…you try to do the thing that’s true to you and your way of saying things…the discipline. I think of it as wrestling, the kind of competition with form. That form makes you better.”
Jules Nyquist interview excerpt with sestina poet James Cummins
“I love it when people get the sestina bug. I’m grateful for what the form taught me; repetition-with-change is probably the most important lesson going forward. I support your idea of poetry as play! Your students are lucky to have you.”
--James Cummins, The Whole Truth, sestina troubadour
When I wrote a sequence of double sestinas I felt as if I was sitting at a loom mesmerized by weaving threads into patterns, the mind entranced by craftsmanship as well as by memory and the imagination. I am grateful to Jules for loving the sestina and bringing this form of poetry, amplified, before your eyes.
--Star Black, Double Time
Jules Nyquist knows her sestinas, loves her sestinas, and it could be said in a complimentary way, that she is obsessed with sestinas. She has written a fantastic book about sestina writing, based on her own explorations, interviews with sestinaists, and proofed by the poets who take her sestina workshops. This compact book is full of techniques, inspirations and good example poems. She provides rules, exceptions to the rules and variations on the rules.
--Megan Baldrige, poet, and proud graduate of Jules Nyquist's Sestina class
This Siesta Playbook offers sure results. My first book of published poems, “Apples Rot on the Ground,” begins and ends with sestinas developed in Jules’ class. The sestina was the perfect form, as Jules states, for “obsessions and emotional complexities,” experiences or thoughts that are painful. I was angry with domestic violence inflicted on my mother and the sestina let me to have “cups” or end words to hold my thoughts so I could move on to the next line thus allowing me to express my feelings in small, tolerable pieces.