Thursday, February 12, 2009

Beauty of the Sestina

I've been working on a sestina for about six days now, and I'm quickly remembering how forms help me to describe situations in ways I wouldn't have otherwise. I'm usually afraid of making metaphors and similes, because I'm just not confident that I can make effective, non-cliched ones. However, whenever I write sestinas, a metaphor always gets in there; even more significant is that I actually try to develop it and allow it to flourish.

I guess the ironic thing is that I'm so paranoid about writing down some overused simile or metaphor... or idiom (which, actually, are often similes)... and even saying them that when I'm asked to say them, I can't always get them right. Sharon, Amber, and I were doing a writing exercise that had to begin with a cliche. I think I said, "Oh, apples and oranges" and "When cows fly," both of which I think allude to cliches but aren't quite. I heard someone make a mistake on an NPR interview. She said that "everyone has a shadow in their closet." I started cracking up, though I thought the idea was interesting, since you generally can only have a shadow in your closet if the door is open, which would defeat the meaning of the "skeleton in the closet" since it's not hidden, but which also evokes the idea of some kind of other self.

Back to the original reason for this post. I've been trying to find my way back to writing poetry at the level that I think I used to write. I've been having trouble. I think the sestina is helping, though. This predetermined structure seems to be helping me break out of this older mold I've been stuck in.