Let’s Talk in Pictures

red chairs

The sestina is a perfect form for conversation. I learned this from reading a lot of sestinas by James Cummins. I’d never read sestinas like his before, but the use of dialog made sense. The back and forth, the coming ’round of the sestina form, is much like conversation, so it’s a terrific form for actually including dialog.

When Claire Burge suggested conversation as a collaborative prompt between us and The High Calling’s latest PhotoPlay challenge, I was amazed and delighted. Yes! She had dreamed up the perfect pairing between our sestina efforts and her new challenge.

When her prompt went up, I realized something more. We poets could learn from her photography tips. Here’s her challenge:

1. Capture a conversation
2. Use background, angle or distance (or all three) to establish the context of the image

If you check out Claire’s post, you can see examples of how photographers used setting, angle and distance to establish a sense of place, debate, or intimacy.

How does a poet establish setting? How does a poet establish an angle? How does a poet establish a close-up versus distance?

Of course all of these will have to do with images, including sounds. If, for instance, our poem characters are whispering and we can hear it, then we are privy to an intimate moment. If the same whispers sound like leaves tumbling down the street, we are outside of the intimacy, perhaps overhearing it, shut out by literal distance or time.

Would you like to join the challenge? To capture a conversation? If you want to use the sestina form, you can. Or if the challenge of capturing a conversation by using setting, angle and distance is challenge enough, feel free to use a different form.

Post your offering by Wednesday, July 27 and add your link here in the comment box, for links and possible feature at Tweetspeak, The High Calling, or in Every Day Poems. You can join in the PhotoPlay challenge too. Just stop by The High Calling for details.

Okay, let’s get talking. :)

Post by L.L. Barkat. Visit L.L. at Seedlings in Stone, for more on writing, poetry, art and life.

Subscribe to Every Day Poems— Read a poem a day, become a better poet. In July we’re exploring sestinas.

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  1. says

    Finally, I did it! I wrote a sestina! But not without a lot of encouragement from you, LL. Thanks for your help. I even quoted you in my post, sort of. The metaphor of a conversation also helped my sestina writing. There are several conversations going on in mine. Though, not so much my photo. Though I do wonder what eggplants say when we are not there to hear them.

    Love being part of a community of writers like this, LL. And keep the Every Day’s coming!


  2. says


    This sestina was supposed to be about ballet but ending up being about abuse. I had just finished a book written by a social worker here in Ireland. It contained real stories of cases he had dealt with. I guess the trauma of it affected me on a much deeper level than I realised at the time.

    I wrote it in 20 minutes, just in time for writer’s group…

    It felt like a well run marathon that left me deeply satisfied but very tired.


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