Sestina Insanity Studio

Sestina Insanity Studio

Conquering the complex, elaborate, diabolical sestina

The sestina was created to enact an ancient mathematical impossibility: squaring the circle. The sestina tethers the writer to a spine of six end-words, and then demands their frequent return in a highly orchestrated order. On this Studio course, we will investigate the history of the form, with an emphasis on why it became so popular in the latter half of the twentieth century, and how it has become a form associated with both playful and serious intent. The sestina was a popular form for poetry challenges in the New York School, and has even found life as a comic strip. The sestina rewards familiarity, and opens itself onto inside jokes and playful revisions. After writing the canonical sestina, we will begin to look at variations on the form—the most famous being Marie Ponsot’s ‘tritina’. Students will then begin to develop their own variations on the sestina, thinking about how far we can stray from the basic structure while retaining the power of the form.

Studios are three week intensive courses. Reading material will be distributed before the course begins. There are no live chats so they are suitable for both UK & International students. 

For more information visit our Online Courses page.

(Image credit: ‘fdecomite’)

About Jason Schneiderman View Profile

Jason Schneiderman earned an MFA from New York University and a fellowship from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts. He is the author of the poetry collections Sublimation Point (2004) and Striking Surface (2010), winner of the 2009 Richard Snyder Publication Prize from Ashland Poetry Press. Schneiderman’s poems have appeared in the anthologies The Penguin Book of the Sonnet (2001), Bend, Don’t Shatter: Poets on the Beginning of Desire (2004), and Best American Poetry 2005, and his translations have been published in An Anthology of Contemporary Russian Women Poets (2005). His essays have appeared in the American Poetry Review and elsewhere.

‘I’m a first time student but I’m now eager to sign up for more. I find myself looking forward to meeting deadlines and joining in web chats. Taking part in such a friendly and well informed course has increased my personal confidence and enhanced my enjoyment of reading and writing.’

Autumn 2017 Survey response

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