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Project 52 ’11 15: Sestina

April 23, 2011

About a week ago the Oxford University Press’s academic branch (@OUPAcademic) ran the following competition on Twitter:  http://blog.oup.com/2011/04/sestina/

I had no experience of writing a sestina but wary of how behind I was on Project 52 and of how much I had been neglecting writing recently, I decided to use it as kick-start for my writing and give it a go. It was difficult to find six words to fit the exact pattern demanded by a sestina. There’s no point picking an obscure word, or one  with very limited usage such as “camera”, or you’re going to find yourself repeating yourself a lot of the time. You can be cheeky, like I was, and use thing like “days/daze” and words which can have multiple meanings (“mess” and “thick” were the two I used).

It took me quite a few days to write it, with one or two promising false starts which led to nothing. I knew I wanted to write about tiredness and fatigue (“fatigue” was one of the end words I chose at first. No wonder that poem went nowhere!) as I have experienced a lot of that of late. The final poem was written all in one go and then edited to shorten some lines and to rewrite others. I didn’t think it was the strongest thing that I had ever written but I was unsure of what I could do to improve it. I decided to send it to the OUP and let them decide.

A few days later I received an email from the OUP saying that they wanted to use my poem on their website! I was very honoured and very excited. It’s the first time that someone from outside my usual support network has given my work any sort of verification or encouragement. You can read the post here:

http://blog.oup.com/2011/04/linked-up-422/

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