Thursday, November 20, 2008


I have a couple of poems in the new issue, number 8, of print magazine, Succour. One of them is a sestina. I’ve heard so many people tell me that they have never read a good sestina, so I plug away at the form, no doubt out of sheer bloody-mindedness. I’ve enjoyed the poems I’ve read so far from the issue – highly eclectic. It includes another sestina, by Miriam Gamble, which seemed good on first read. The issue's theme is 'icons' and it's interesting to see how different writers have dealt with it.


BarbaraS said...

Well done, Rob, looks like you're in fine company there. I've met Miriam, she just finished a PhD in QUB earlier this year.

Anonymous said...

Not sure if I've seen Miriam's sestina - may have blocked it out from her original MS! You'll wait forever before I publish a sestina or a villanelle as an editor though.

Michael Donaghy's Signifyin' Monkey and Joe Dunthorne's Sestina for My Friends are both entertaining, but both work by undercutting the sestina form, I think.

Andrew Philip said...

Allan Crosbie's "The Houseswap" is a fine sestina. It works because it's a strong narrative monologue.

David Floyd said...

I do really like the Joe Dunthorne one (so there's no reason why yours shouldn't be another exception) but generally they're awful.

In the vast majority of cases, the only interesting question to be considered after the second stanza of most sestinas is whether boredom will win the contest with annoyance.

If I'm in a workshop and someone brings in a poem and introduces it by saying 'it's a sestina', that's the moment I start looking round the room to see if there's a way to make a quick, safe exit.

Colin Will said...

It's a magazine I don't know - don't think SPL stock it, although I see Borders at Kinnaird Park are listed as stockists - must check next week.

Rob said...

I've read some good sestinas. Some up at Macsweeney's. Some in other places - there's a shrinking sestina that I enjoy - can't remember who wrote it.

I agree that most of them are poor. A collection I reviewed recently contained a sestina and it was easily the worst poem in the book. But that makes the attempt to write a good one all the more of a challenge.

It's the kind of magazine I hope the SPL do consider stocking - far more interesting than many of the usual suspects.

Liz said...

Rob, I kinda like sestinas especially after reading Sandra Beasley


Congrats too.