Notes on The Incredible Sestina Anthology



1. Ten years ago I started a new job, one with the tongue-in-cheek title of Assistant Web Editor for Sestinas at McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. How did this happen? I tell the story here. Long story short: I read hundreds, maybe thousands, of sestinas, that most particular of poetic forms, and published my choices here.

2. Through the course of that gig, I collected sestinas that didn’t fit the criteria of the site, with dreams of someday publishing the first all-sestina collection. All killer no filler. I wanted John Ashbery, Elizabeth Bishop, Jonah Winter, Denise Duhamel, Patricia Smith, Alfred Corn, Florence Cassen-Mayers, Marilyn Nelson, Sherman Alexie, Matt Madden, all under one roof.

3. And now it’s happening.

4. Ten years, one hundred-plus poems, a hundred permissions, the help and guidance of many, one very patient life partner, and one super publisher, Write Bloody Publishing, later, it’s happening.

5. I can’t be modest about this book. It’s called The Incredible Sestina Anthology for a reason. Look at that Table of Contents.

6. It’s the first book of its kind, and I hope people buy it. I hope people buy several copies. I hope instructors of poetry will assign it. I hope libraries will acquire it and put it on their shelves. I hope poetry nerds like myself will lap it up.

6a. The book is now in physical book form in Austin, Texas, where Write Bloody lives. There it is, next to Cristin O’Keef Aptowicz’s and Jade Sylvan’s title.

6b. I will have to wait for my own copies and to get the contributor copies out. I haven’t held one in my hands and fanned the pages and smelled that new book smell.

7. Safe to say this job putting out a book is not over.

7a. Now comes the hustle. Posting. Tweeting. Sending bound galleys. Cutting through to get people’s attention.

7b. I think I am half-good at doing this kind of thing. On the one hand, I like meeting people who are interesting and curious; on the other hand, I like staying at home and reading out-of-print Lester Bangs reviews and repairing 8-tracks.

7c. It’s precisely these moments that I need to remember the joy of doing what I do, rather than the anxiety. This won’t make sense to people who are, you know, well-adjusted. But for maladaptive types like myself, I feel like I’m never doing enough.

8. One thing is for sure. When the readings happen, when the poets who were generous enough to allow me to include their work in this book get together and read their sestinas in front of people, and with a stack of those books sitting on a table nearby, I’m going to be teary-eyed. Verklempt. Misty. I’ll be grateful and proud and a little overwhelmed.

8a. I’m going to look like Michael Landon toward the end of an episode of Little House on the Prairie.  

8b. These days I find myself asking people to write about the book, to spread the word, to get out there and buy it.

9. So: If you are in that business, of spreading words, please spread it. If you are in the business of teaching a poetry class that invites forms, please consider assigning it. I’ll be glad to visit your class in person or on the internets.

10. If you like buying books, you should buy it. Here’s where you can do that:

Powell’s Books of Portland, OR, which will deliver anywhere and is awesome;

Indiebound, where you can find independent bookstores that will sell you a copy, or will order one for you, or purchase online;

Write Bloody’s website, which published this incredible book and publishes other incredible books;

Amazon, which is, you know, Amazon.


7 Replies to “Notes on The Incredible Sestina Anthology”

  1. Better than looking like Michael Landon now!

    (Congrats, DN! A great job, a superlative job. The table of contents is a sestina Hall of Game. Truly: thanks!)

  2. You had my purchase at Michael Landon.

  3. Congrats, Daniel. Very psyched. Will buy my copy pronto. Can’t wait to use it as a teaching tool, as a tool of enjoyment, as love.

    1. A tool of enjoyment the book certainly will be. Thanks Matthew! You are the man!

  4. I would very much like to read some of your sestinas. Are any of them published online/

    1. Oh, you’re asking about my own? I do write sestinas, but mine aren’t any good, I’ve come to conclude. Sorry!

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