My stepdaughter was struggling with her online creative writing class. Her instructor had assigned the class sestinas and my stepdaughter didn't understand the pattern and wasn't sure where to begin.
I love writing poetry, but I hadn't experimented with this form. I read the directions and started in. When I am teaching something new to someone else, I have to do it first and analyze how I approach it. I discovered something about how I teach and learn: I start almost every task like this collecting words.
Whenever I write a poem, I begin with collecting words. When I'm working on a new unit of study, I start with vocabulary words. Even when I write fiction, I am collecting names for people and places. I collect more words than I need for the task which gives me more choices. As a reader/writer/teacher, words are my tools.
A sestina has six stanzas with six lines each. Each line of the stanzas end with the same six words, but in a different order each time. There are three lines at the end called an envoi that have some of the same words repeated.
Once I had my six related words, I could fit them into the poem structure. I encouraged my stepdaughter to pick up a book that interested her and choose six words. She started with a Star Trek book and chose six words, but her resulting poem was a tribute to Dr. Who. (She hasn't let me read it yet.)
Here is my first attempt at a sestina called A Student's Sestina. I know it's not a perfect one, but I'm excited about what I learned through the process. I know words are powerful. Now I have another way of teaching that to my students.