Friday, November 03, 2006

Sestinas, Villanelles and Other Poetic Games

This week I have two big literary challenges. The first was to write a piece of prose using a set structure given to us by the lecturer. We were to make a list of animals or creatures, choose one of them and base our piece of writing on it starting with a partial sentence that was given to us. We also have to incorporate other partial sentence into the piece in the order given. The phrases were such inspining things as: "When I see a..." and "and this in turn reminds me of..." - not phrases that I would choose to use.

I thought that I would really struggle with this, in fact I would go so far as to say that I was dreading it. I thought that the writing would end up sounding boring and stilted. Yesterday evening, however, I thought i would have a go and I found that once I began writing that I had a sudden flash of inspiration. I wrote the piece in about half an hour and I am very pleased with it.

The second challenge of the week is one that I haven't tackled yet. I feel that this task is even tougher than the first one. The brief is to write a poem in the form of a villanelle or a sestina, I won't try and explain what these are her as it is too complicated but if you click on the links you will find a relatively easy explanation. Both forms include repetitions but in a set form. The sestina repaeats words at the end of lines whereas the villanelle repeats entire lines.

I just can't get to grips the villanelle, I have looked at lots of definitions but it just feels like such an alien and contrived style of writing. There is little room for artistic freedom in such a form. The sestina is a little better but it is still a restricting and contrived form of creating poetry. We do have a third choice, which is to write a poem in the form of the rules of a game - in a similar style to the poems of Vasko Popa from a collection called Games.


Anonymous said...

Most things that seem hard at first, turn out to be much easier than you'd imagine. Congrats on your first challenge. I'm sure the second one will go just fine, once you get started:D

Anonymous said...

Good luck! I'm sure you'll come up with something great. c",)

Your blog is highly interesting. Keep at it!

RichM said...

Remember: The villanelle is the most restrictive of all sandwich forms.