Clipped Sestina

The Clipped Sestina is a poetry form created by Sam Kilkenny. It is based on the traditional French Sestina.

Clipped Sestina

What Is A Clipped Sestina?

The Clipped Sestina is a poetry form created by Sam Kilkenny. It is based on the traditional French Sestina. The biggest difference is that the Clipped Sestina is shorter in length, or has been ‘clipped down from 39 lines to 10. The purpose is to make the traditional sestina more approachable while maintaining its unique characteristics. 

How Do you Write A Clipped Sestina? 

The Clipped Sestina adheres to the following rules:

  1. It is a poem of 10 lines
  2. It has 3 stanzas of 3 lines each, followed by a closing line
  3. It is unrhymed
  4. The same three end words must occur in every stanza but in a changing order that follows a set pattern 
  5. The end words of the first stanza are repeated in a different order as end words in each of the subsequent stanzas.
  6. The last line must use all 3 end words. 

These numbers represent the order of the end words for each stanza.

1 2 3
3 1 2
2 3 1
(use all 3 words in any order)

(See highlighted example below)

There are many ways to approach this form. You could begin with a final line and then pull out your 3 repetition words from that. You could have 3 words in mind from the start. Or you could start quite naturally with the first line and build the repetition from there. 

Don’t be discouraged if your first attempt reads weird. The requirements of the clipped sestina are hard to grasp at first and first attempts typically need to be worked over a few times to come out right. 

Example of A Clipped Sestina

Here is a highlighted example of the Clipped Sestina by Corey Bryan

the similarities of a frozen can of beer
forgotten and left to explode, and the face
of someone crying are remarkably similar

it’s the little things that make them similar
accidentally being left in the freezer a beer
takes on bloated features, sorrow, a wet face

and crying creates bloated features, sorrow, a wet face
sometimes poetry is just saying one thing is similar
to another. a crying face and a weeping beer.

they stop being similar quick, there’s a smile on my face when i open the beer.

Support the Site

If you want to support the site you can do so by purchasing Corey’s first book of poetry here.

You can read more about the book here.

16 responses to “Clipped Sestina”

  1. […] The form of the week was the clipped sestina. […]

  2. […] Use The Clipped Sestina […]

  3. […] Use The Clipped Sestina […]

  4. […] Use The Clipped Sestina […]

  5. […] a clipped sestina that is mostly dialogue. This form caters nicely to dialogue due to its difficult end words. […]

  6. […] Use The Clipped Sestina […]

  7. […] The form of the week was The Clipped Sestina. […]

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Sam and Corey started Poetry is Pretentious to demystify poetry. More importantly, their 5th grade teacher told them they couldn’t go through life as a team. 18 years later they’re here to prove her wrong.


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