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.