Poetic Forms: Sestinas
(It. sestine, sesta rima). The most complicated of the verse forms initiated by the troubadours, the sestina is composed of six stanzas of six lines each, followed by an 'envoi of three lines, all of which are unrhymed, and all decasyllabic (Eng.), hendecasyllabic (It.), or 'alexandrine (Fr.). The same six end words occur in each stanza, but in a shifting order that follows a fixed pattern: each successive stanza takes its pattern from a reversed (bottom-up) pairing of the lines of the preceding stanza (i.e., last and first, then next to last and second, then third from last and third).
PREMINGER, A., SCOTT, C., Caplan, D., & CAPLAN, D. (2012). Sestina. In R. Green, S. Cushman, & C. Cavanagh (Eds.), The Princeton encyclopedia of poetry and poetics (4th ed.). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Retrieved from https://ezproxy.simmons.edu/login?url=https://search.credoreference.com/content/entry/prpoetry/sestina/0?institutionId=5600
“I redacted 122 pages of H.R. 4900, the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act, known in shorthand as ‘PROMESA,’ into a sestina or a ‘palimpsestina.’ PROMESA establishes technocrats and global financiers as colonial administrators of the Puerto Rican economy, enabling them to manipulate bureaucratic time across the island. This colonial orchestration of time is lethal and bound up in the manufacturing of debt, so I redacted the bill while thinking about decolonization and breaking cycles and arrived at this poem.”
—Joey De Jesus
“I wrote this poem a little less than a year ago, when the scene that it describes (which took place in East Anglia, on the east coast of England, near to where I grew up) suddenly popped into my head. It seemed to me that since the subject was a ring, I should tackle it in a poetic form—a sestina—that was itself like something with its tail in its mouth.”