03 September 2012

craft tip monday 9/3: the settennet

Happy Monday, all! Today, since we’re riding out the wave of the OLJ Poetry Form Challenge, I’d like to share a new poetry form of my own. This form plays with some of the same elements we worked with during the Challenge. I call it the Settennet, and hope you enjoy it!

Craft Tip Monday: The Settennet
the settennet

The name of this form is a combination of “sette”, the Italian word for seven, and “sonnet,” where the poem has a slight origin. The major link between the forms is the number seven. While the sonnet is a poem of 14 lines, the Settennet is a 28-line poem made up of four 7-line stanzas; the first and second stanzas are linked in their rhyme scheme, as are the third and fourth. In the first and second stanzas, the second and fourth lines of each stanza rhyme. The same applies for the third and fourth stanzas, so the pattern looks something like this:

xAxBxxx // xAxBxxx // xCxDxxx // xCxDxxx

That’s only the first part of this poetic form. The other major element of the Settennet is a syllabic pattern followed in each stanza. Each stanza has 28-syllables, broken up by line in the following pattern:

Line 1: 6 syllables
Line 2: 1 syllable
Line 3: 5 syllables
Line 4: 4 syllables
Line 5: 3 syllables
Line 5: 7 syllables

why invent form?

You might wonder where this form came from … or even what the point of inventing a new form is. During this summer’s form challenge, we focused a lot on “knowing where we (as poets) came from,” or how familiar forms have shaped us as poets. But the whole point of knowing where you came from is to also better understand where you’re going, and where you’re going is always something new. There’s no point in understanding “old” forms is we are not also planning on creating new ones. There’s no point in learning the fundamentals of poetry if we’re not going to apply those fundamentals toward innovation. The creation of new forms, then, is our way of saying that where we came from, as poets, matters … because it is the laying of stones along the road to where we, as poets, are going. And in order to keep getting there, we need to keep creating, and learning, and revising, and innovating.

where we’re going

As writers we’re always going somewhere: always growing and adapting to both what we’ve learned and what we hope to discover. My challenge to you is to figure out where you can take things as a writer. What can you create, whether it’s from what you already know or what you dream to know? How can you adapt your world to fit your vision? Go into the world, and make it yours. Make it new.

Here’s an example of the Settennet:


You learn to take the world
stride across the path
of old-
er men. When things
fall apart
you swear you won’t take it too

hard. But water from your
gle well is stagnant.
You’re cold
against the wind.
Something breaks
inside your resolve. How far

can you take this rouse? Nothing
so well as the swift
that ruptures you.
And when you
learn the nature of this game

it’s like a pill. Take the
read the signs in you
and solve
that last riddle—
the one that
was as obvious as sin.


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Read previous Craft Tip Monday posts from Our Lost Jungle:

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