So, this form birthed a few years ago from an admittedly overly geeky, slightly masochistic brain, when I was attempting to think of the most ridiculous form I could think of. There are variations, and I’ll talk about those later, but the basic idea is that you write a double sestina where those 12 repeated words are first a 12 word 17 syllable haiku. Tada!

So, you have questions. Well, I mean questions besides “Why the hell would you create this?” and “What kind of monster are you?” and “How could we make this even worse?”

Or maybe that last one is just me. That said, any ideas, comment below. I’m all about it.

No, questions like “What’s a double sestina?” And “How does this work exactly?”

Well, I talk about sestinas in more detail [here] and [here]. But the basic idea is instead of 6 stanzas of 6 lines, you write 12 stanzas of 12 lines. Here’s the word order:

A B C D E F G H I J K L
L A K B J C I D H E G F
F L G A E K H B D J I C
C F I L J G D A B E H K
K C H F E I B L A J D G
G K D C J H A F L E B I
I G B K E D L C F J A H
H I A G J B F K C E L D
D H L I E A C G K J F B
B D F H J L K I G E C A
A B C D E F G H I J K L
L A K B J C I D H E G F

If you want to really understand it, though, check out the second of those links above.

Then, it’s simple.

Step 1: write a typical haiku, 5-7-5, but with exactly 12 words.

Step 2: Those 12 words will be the end words for each of the 12 lines in your double sestina, which is exactly what it sounds like, a sestina with the number of lines and the number of stanzas doubled from 6 to 12.

Step 3: (or maybe step one) Pray.

Variations include but are not limited to writing another haiku and doing to same order of words at the beginning of the line in addition to at the end, throwing in a rhyme scheme, and maybe we could even toss in a refrain or two. That said, as the other article mentions, triple sestinas aren’t a think because the order of the words cycles back to ABCDEF after twelve. Oddly enough, the form gets a little squirlier when you do a normal single sestina, just because then you have to write a haiku with only 6 words.

Alright! Have fun! And hey, if anyone wants to either explore making this beast even beastlier OR wants to share your beast, let me know below. Every year for April, NaPoWriMo, I make an attempt at this thing. And I have yet to match my patience to my ambition. But I think this is the year.

Enjoy!