Alphabet Soup

Alphabet soup!

The further we read into the book, the more technical it gets. In Chapter 10, we got into closed forms. Among the forms covered in the chapter, my favorite form would have to be either the epigram or the sestina.

The reason that I really liked the sestina is that it reminded me of being a kid armed with boredom and alphabet soup. The constraints require that “in six six-line stanzas, the poet repeats six end-words, then reintroduces the six repeated words (in any order). (Kennedy 200)” A kid with an alphabet soup is able to make words based on the letters that were assigned. Similarly, a poet is able to create a poem based on the carefully chosen six end-words. This restriction seems to me as a really fun way to play a game.

However, an epigram appeals to me because of the way they are designed. They are brief and to the point. This is one thing that I really like — whether it be in mathematical theorems, programming syntax or communication. Furthermore, epigrams remind me of punch-lines. They are to terse and packed with meaning that one can’t help but admire the clever use of words.

I feel that if haiku are combined with epigrams, then they can be extraordinary; It can be poetry filled with depth and wisdom. (Not to say that it’s not)

The poem “Sestina” by Elizabeth Bishop is what the title claims. Reading this poem, I couldn’t help that the closed form helped emphasize the grandmother’s emotions. Because the form is closed and has to use the last six end words repeatedly, it feels as if the poet needs to “make due with what they got.” Much like the poet, the grandmother has to deal with the lack of something/someone, and just live in the moment. She finds it incredibly difficult, which is why at the end she cries. I couldn’t help but feel that the grandmother was trying the best she can to stay optimistic, but everything just kind-of came back to haunt her (in the drawings of the child).


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