WITH THE YOUNGSTERS – A COLLECTION OF GROUP SESTINAS & GROUP VILLANELLES EDITED BY ALAN WEARNE
Alan Wearne, publisher of Grand Parade Poets and editor of With the Youngsters writes: The 23 sestinas and 22 villanelles contained in this volume are the result of group work involving my poetry classes 1998-2016. And if they started as teaching exercises showing students how to construct the highly formulaic sestina and villanelle, this initial reason was soon shed and the imagination gained control. For at their best these verse forms aren’t so much rule-bound as possessed of rules made for bending and breaking.
As snapshots of what collections of people were thinking and imagining at a particular time, a lot of virtually useless artifacts may have been created, except for this: they were written to entertain and when entertainment is imaginative and challenging it’s nothing like useless.
Indeed, how do we know that group participation wasn’t the basis for the ballads and epics of earlier times? Are these poems ‘the future’ of poetry? Probably not, though they may be more of ‘a future’ than plenty of verse being practiced today in Australia let alone throughout the English writing world.