by Jonah Winter
Workshop Title: Sestina
Start by watching a quick overview of the “sestina” poetic form.
Read “Sestina: Bob” by Jonah Winter. When you’re done, let’s briefly discuss how the poem would technically fall under the classification of a traditional “sestina.”
Say, “Before we start writing, let’s try and come up with a list of people that you’ve tried to measure yourself against. When you’ve identified this person, try to come up with a list of reasons or qualities that this person possesses that makes them “superior” to you. This is not meant to be a serious exercise. Just try to think of somebody you’re jokingly ‘jealous’ of. I, for example, am jealous of Chris Hemsworth. Mans has got it all! Looks, charisma, wealth…I can’t even come close.” Then give your students time to brainstorm.
Have your students write a sestina about somebody that they’re “jealous” of. They may use the traditional sestina form or, like “Sestina: Bob,” they may write it in a way where the word at the end of each line repeats itself.
When the students are done, have them share their responses with one another.
Area of Focus: Various
This lesson allows students to analyze various concepts and skills, so it is recommended that you have covered several of the “standalone” lessons before assigning this one. The prominent literary devices & techniques that this particular poem includes are: diction, tone, selection of detail, structure, and structure (syntax).
Show your students the following video to introduce them to the concept of comedy, more specifically, what goes into creating a comic effect.
Read the first section of the historical context – “Rules of the Sestina Form” – with your students to inform them of the “rules” behind the form and structure of such poems.
Read “Sestina: Bob” aloud to your students. When you’ve finished reading the poem, first, have your students determine how or why the poem would be classified as a sestina. Then ask them what makes it comedic, what “violations” exist in the poem to produce a comic effect.
Have your students open the following document and go over the instructions with them. In this assignment, your students will have to read “Sestina: Bob” and determine how the poet is able to produce a comedic effect throughout.
When your students are done, have them share their responses with one another.
If time permits, share the exemplar essay.
- Body / Body Image
- Creativity / Imagination / Writing
- Education Formal / Informal
- Selection of Detail
- Structure (Syntax)