Monday, February 4, 2013

Collecting Words

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.


  1. I really enjoyed reading your poem. I think a lot of students would really relate to the emotion in your poem. Very well done.

    Eclectic Educating

    1. Thank you Amy. I share my poetry blog with my students and encourage them to write their own poetry. I haven't had anyone attempt a sestina, but I have an idea for a collaborative one.

  2. Fabulous poem. I had never heard of that poetry form before. I think I need to try it out myself. Like you, I do the exercise before trying to teach it.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog and becoming a follower. I am also your newest follower.


    1. Thank you, Dee.
      I enjoy writing poetry and bringing it into my classroom. I hope today brings you closer to your giveaway.


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