Yesterday was my birthday. I turned 39, which I consider my sestina year. It’s also divisible by three, so I came up with three possible prompts for today.
Pick one, two, or all of the following prompts:
- Write a form poem. Sestina, sonnet, haiku, clogyrnach, golden shovel, etc.
- Write an anti-form poem. Don’t like forms? Vent about it. Or just bust free verse.
- Write a birthday poem.
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Here’s my attempt at a Form, Anti-Form, and/or Happy Birthday Poem:
“Writing a Sestina on the Day After My Birthday and Venting About It”
The older I get the more I realize I hate
it when strangers take liberties with my first name,
too lazy to utter two syllables: Robert.
I mean, I know I should have more patience, but no,
I loathe the sound of Bob, Bobby, Robby, and Bo,
and what better way to vent than this sestina,
because there’s no better poem than sestina
for repeating the several words you abhor.
For instance, I receive e-mails addressed to Bob,
which rhymes with slob, which is not an appealing name,
which if you didn’t, then now you most surely know,
and yes, I admit that I once strayed from Robert,
which is why some people call me Rob, but Robert
is the name on my Facebook and this sestina.
Besides it’s my birthday, and I want you to know
how to sing the Birthday Song without my reproach
for you not singing the correct Birthday Song name,
because I’d be so bummed to hear a high “Bobby,”
even though I once was fine being a Robby–
we all make decisions we regret–but Robert
is positively, absolutely the right name
to put on my cake, or in a bad sestina,
because even a sad sestina I despise
is better than an okay poem that doesn’t know
that to abbreviations I say: Just say no!
Just say no to Bobby, Bert, and/or Roberto;
just say no to anything other folks detest;
just say no to every name that is not Robert;
and while at it, just say no to the sestina
and all traditional forms of another name,
because your readers should not be able to name
the form as if it makes poems something they know–
like math or science–some quantified sestina
that is comparable to some quantified Bob,
who’d prefer to be a mysterious Robert
and not some loosely nicknamed abomination.
No person should shudder at the sound of their name
shortened from a simple Robert to the no-no
of Bob in Birthday Song or Birthday Sestina.
Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor of the Writer’s Digest Writing Community and author of Solving the World’s Problems (Press 53). He’s written more than 100 sestinas, and he’s still hasn’t found what he’s looking for.
Follow him on Twitter @RobertLeeBrewer.