The Incredible Sestina Anthology

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The Incredible Sestina Anthology

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The first anthology of the 600-year-old poetic form to appear in English.

The sestina is one of the world’s oldest literary forms. It’s also one of the most tricked-out and wacky: six words appear at the end of 39 lines over the course of six, six-line stanzas and a three-line finale. Since it was invented 700 years ago, people keep writing them.

Check out these interviews with Incredible Sestina Anthology contributors at our launch at Poets House in New York.

Why sestinas?

Because of the challenge it presents poets to experiment with a six-pack of words and a spiral-based secret code hidden inside.

For this incredible anthology, poet and editor Daniel Nester has brought together more than 100 sestinas. Here, in all their glory, are poets from all schools and stripes who have taken the sestina challenge, from Sherman Alexie to Louis Zukofsky and everywhere in between:

  • sestina classics from John Ashbery, Elizabeth Bishop, Ezra Pound, Anthony Hecht, Donald Justice, and Marilyn Hacker
  • modern masterpieces from David Lehman, Patricia Smith, James Cummins, Sandra Beasley, Quincy Troupe and Anne Waldman
  • double sestinas from Denise Duhamel, Ernest Hilbert and Star Black
  • Matt Madden and Casey Camp’s comics sestina
  • Florence Cassen Mayers’s minimalist takes
  • Jonah Winter’s world-famous “Bob” sestina
  • selections from Nester’s picks as sestinas editor at McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, from Rick Moody, David Trinidad, Rachel Shukert, Alfred Corn and Steve Almond
  • and much, much more!

With comments from contributors that take us “Behind the Sestina,” The Incredible Sestina Anthology is a greatest hits collection of this incredible form.

Press and praise

I’m just going to say it: The Incredible Sestina Anthology is incredible. Here the sestina, “formerly dismissed as nonsense,” emerges as a tour de force form that, crafted well, can handle comedy and tragedy, obsession and indecency, and, of course, the sacred and the profane. The Incredible Sestina Anthology has everything, and by “everything,” I mean sestinas.–Saara Myrene Raappana, American Book Review

A Dream of a Common Poetry: Daniel Nester with David Lehman at The New School Poetry Forum, by Nora Brooks, at The Best American Poetry Blog,

“Celebrating Sestinas at Poets House,” pick for February 1 launch reading, by A.C. Lee, New York Times, January 30, 2014.

Q&A With Daniel Nester, Author of The Incredible Sestina Anthology, at Geekadelphia.

Book notes and playlist for The Incredible Sestina Anthology, at largehearted boy.

“Sestinapalooza,” Ben Yagoda’s appreciation of The Incredible Sestina Anthology, at The Chronicle of Higher Education‘s Lingua Franca blog.

“The Joy of Six,” interview with Elizabeth Floyd Mair in Albany Times Union

“The Dream of a Common Poetry”: interview with M.E. Griffith in New Delta Review