amongst books

amongst books

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Oulipost #19: Sestina

"Are you lez, are you lez," they interrupted
a slow song began cooing from the mirror
helped navigate the maze
of secrets unearthed
he was fed up with being misunderstood
called sissy, tomboy and freak

he always felt out of place, a freak
he learned he was gender confused, interrupted
he never felt right as a girl, misunderstood
was angry, dropping f-bombs in the mirror
his long-held secret had been unearthed
he felt he had no choice but to submit himself to the maze

there was a clash between who he is and the maze
no one likes being labelled a freak
a reality for several years has now been unearthed
his body is no longer interrupted
no longer hunched over, avoiding eye contact in the mirror
it was total confusion and it was misunderstood

the teen in the middle of it was misunderstood
biology and hormones are inconsistent with the maze
of advice to young people like him, who are stared at in the mirror
they don't control your life, don't listen to the  freak
ideals of someone who calls you "it"; you are in the wrong body, interrupted
be strong, hold on, you're going to be unearthed

the anxiety's been  unearthed
he's more visible now than he was when misunderstood
he offers advice to other young people, who are interrupted
who don't control the maze
pushing children into assigned gender roles is a freak
of scattered ideals across the carpet, in the  mirror

a sign of progress in the mirror
what happened ten years ago has been unearthed
he explained what pronoun he now uses, is not a freak
he seems relaxed and happier, not  misunderstood
he smiles more, out of the maze
he carries himself differently, is not interrupted

you're your own person, even when misunderstood
if someone doesn't support you, get out of the maze
you don't have to listen to them, let their words be interrupted


Pearson, Matthew. “Boy Interrupted.” the Ottawa Citizen. 19 April 2014. A1.

This will be one of your most challenging Oulipost prompts! A sestina is a poetic form of six six-line stanzas. The end-words of the lines of each stanza repeat those of the first, but in a differing order that in each successive stanza follows the permutation: 615243. The entire sequence of end words is thus: 123456; 615243; 364125; 532614; 451362; 246531. All words and phrases must be sourced from your newspaper text.


I was so glad to see this article about Mikey Williams in today’s paper. This is an issue very close to my heart, the insistent enforcement of gender roles. My heart goes out to Mikey & children like him. I want him to know that there are people in this world who care. I hope that I haven’t in any way misrepresented his story. I tried to tread very carefully.

From a technical standpoint I am always fascinated by the way this form can cause writers to examine the meaning of words very closely, the way a word in a different context can have a completely different meaning. The words here which most intrigued me were “interrupted” & “maze.” I am also using enjambment here. Otherwise I would be lost. I hope that the poem is effective. I enjoyed the experience.

If like me, you look forward to reading what the other Oulipost magicians conjure for this challenging exercise today, I encourage you to visit the Found Poetry Review& take a read…Thanks once more to the angel software guru & poet, Doug Luman, who created a sestina spreadsheet for this challenge. 


Barbara said...

Amanda, this is beautifully done and a tribute to such a sensitive topic. You've set the bar very high indeed this morning, my friend.

Unknown said...

And ending on such a positive, powerful note. You are controlling the form and content skillfully.

Amanda Earl said...

thanks for your kind words & for reading, Barbara & Sonja.