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Obsession

Sestinas in the Twenty-First Century

The sestina (of medieval French origin) is a complex poetic form of 39 lines (six sestets and a three-line “envoy”) in which the six end-words (teleutons) of the lines of the first sestet stanza are repeated in a specific order as teleutons in the five succeeding sestets. In the envoy, the six teleutons are again picked up, one of them being buried in, and one finishing, each line. Because of the complexity of the form, the sestina fell out of favor with poets for several decades. However, a twenty-first century revival of the form is underway. This is the first anthology of sestinas that showcases both traditional and innovative examples of the form by modern and contemporary poets, award winners, and emerging writers alike. Organized by such themes as Americana; Art; Love and Sex; and Memory, Contemplation, Retrospection, and Death, the collection also includes sestinas with irregular teleutons and unconventional sestinas. An evocative introduction by Marilyn Krysl acquaints readers with the form. The volume concludes with useful indexes of first lines and teleutons, increasing access to the poems beyond the poets’ names.

168 pages | 7 x 10

Poetry


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Table of Contents

Preface: “I Put a Spell on You,” by Carolyn Beard Whitlow • Introduction: The Sestina as Interlocutor, by Marilyn Krysl • AMERICANA • Grace Bauer — A Little Like Dorothy • Alex Cigale — The Paul Bunyan Sestina • Jan Clausen — Pigs Advance as Organ-Transplant Factories for People • Martha Golensky — Presidential Potpourri • George Held — Inauguration (1997) Sestina • A. Van Jordan — Time Reviews the Ziegfeld Follies Featuring Josephine Baker, 1936 • Maxine Kumin — In Praise of the New Transfer Station • Florence Cassen Mayers — All-American Sestina • Patricia Monaghan — Loaded • Marilyn Nelson — Keeper of the Keys (1740) • Lucia Perillo — The Van with the Plane • Ada Jill Schneider — Brooklyn, 1941 • Murray Silverstein — Sestina to Bind a Goodbye • Alice Teeter — The 103rd Birthday of Emma Regina DeGraffenreid Smith • Tony Trigilio — Jean Hill • LaWanda Walters — Marilyn Monroe • Nagueyalti Warren — Strut • ART • Sherman Alexie — The Business of Fancydancing • Jeanne Marie Beaumont — Nature Morte • Maryann Corbett — The Art Student’s Mother Thinks Out Loud • Barbara Lydecker Crane — The Stone Carver • Rhina P. Espaillat — People in Home Movies • Alicia Ostriker — RVR: Work and Love • Danez Smith — Godfather • LOVE AND SEX • Raewyn Alexander — Lightening Storm at Sea • Michele Battiste — No Swimming • Shaindel Beers — Why It Almost Never Ends with Stripping • Dan Bellm — Boy Wearing a Dress • Kate Bernadette Benedict — Tantalizing Sestina • Rafael Campo — Sestina in Red • Melissa Cannon — The Sleeping Beauty • Kelly Cherry — Wintering • Blas Falconer — A Definition of Terms • Jennifer Givhan — Chicken-Hearted • Juliana Gray — Clark Kent Leaves the Optometrist • Eloise Klein Healy — Louganis • Kate Light — Diary Three (Tchaikovsky) • Bruce Meyer — The Lovers’ Sestina • Deborah Miranda — Quickening • Honor Moore — First Time: 1950 • Diane Lockward — Why I Read True Crime Books • Gail Storey — Noah’s Sestina for Raven and Dove • David Trinidad — Playing With Dolls • Pramila Venkateswaran — The Art of the Invisible • Diane Wakoski — Sestina from the Home Gardener • Carolyn Beard Whitlow — Book of Ruth • MEMORY, CONTEMPLATION, RETROSPECTION, AND DEATH • Julia Alvarez — Bilingual Sestina • Herman Beavers — The Relative of Fear • Robin Becker — Sad Sestina • Michael Cantor — The River Children Come of Age • James Cummins — Tiresias • Denise Duhamel — Six-Fingered Sestina • Nausheen Eusuf — Evening • Nola Garrett — Decoration Day • Marilyn Hacker — Towards Autumn • Jeffrey Harrison — Essay on a Recurring Theme • Martha Kalin — Glowing Doors • Marilyn Krysl — Warscape, With Lovers • Austin MacRae — The Organ Builder • Charlotte Mandel — Six • Angela Consolo Mankiewicz — Sestina for Solo Nights • Joan Mazza — It Comes in Waves • Mary Meriam — A Tragedy of Flowers • Joseph Mills — W. S. Merwin Tells a Story During Q & A • Lenard D. Moore — A Quiet Rhythm of Sleep • Alfred Nicol — Clock • Barbara J. Orton — Minds Innocent and Quiet • Marie Ponsot — Half-Life: Copies to All Concerned • Jay Rogoff — Leonine • Patricia Smith — Ethel’s Sestina • Eleanor Swanson — Miami Beach, Moonrise • Lewis Turco — The Obsession • Tim Upperton — Saint Joseph’s Convent, Waipukurau, 1967 • THE NATURAL WORLD • Celia Lisset Alvarez — Lizards • Stephanie Thomas Berry — Come • Kathryn Stripling Byer — Sleepless • Mary-Marcia Casoly — Australia Dreaming • Dallas Crow — Diamonds from Mud • Sally Evans — The Feast in the Barn • Julie Fay — Provençal Laundry • Annie Finch — The Bass • Trina Gaynon — Some Stars Are Not Used for Navigation • Laura Hope-Gill — The Book of the House on the Niagara River • Andrew Johnston — The Sounds • Kristin LaTour — Desert Sestina • Mary McCallum — Southern Man • Elise Paschen — The Front Room • SESTINAS ABOUT SESTINAS: METASESTINAS • Dana Gioia — My Confessional Sestina • Donald Hall — Sestina (“Hang it all, Ezra Pound . . .”) • Maura Stanton — Class Assignment: Thirteen Ways of Looking for a Poem • F. Keith Wahle — How to Write a Sestina • Anne Waldman — How the Sestina Works • Ken Waldman — The Substitute Teaches the Sestina • SESTINAS WITH IRREGULAR TELEUTONS • Catherine Bowman — Mr. X • Lynn Domina — Thursday • Philip Metres — The Iraqi Curator’s PowerPoint • Alan Michael Parker — Bird • Lawrence Schimel — Deleting Names (A Decaying Sestina) • Miller Williams — The Shrinking Lonely Sestina • UNCONVENTIONAL SESTINAS • Nikki Blak — For Black Girls • Shannon Bramer — The Photographer • Ruth Foley — Prayer for the Abandoned • Evie Shockley — clare’s song • Afterword, by Lewis Putnam Turco • Contributors • Acknowledgments • Index of First Lines • Index of (Loosely) Metrical and Syllabic Sestinas • Index of Teleutons

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