Please, first read the poem, then--if interested in the hows and whys of this contemporary sestina--read the notes that follow. Thank you!
THE SHINING, A SESTINA
The old Overlook Hotel has a tradition of sin and devilment,
souvenirs of the rich. Lovely, yes, but its vista is farseeing,
its death grip far-reaching, and certain rooms stay secretive.
A caretaker axed his pretty daughters, now two changelings
prowl the opulent halls, somberly stare. Stale air is redolent
with slaughter. Something malevolent welcomes strangers.
Jack Torance, writer, is hired to loosen winter’s stranglehold
on the isolated, closed resort. Jack’s gifted son, Danny, reviles
his disturbing visions and he quakes at bloodbath predictions.
Wendy, Jack’s loyal wife, fights for family, for their welfare
Jack hurt Danny but is now sober. Promises were exchanged.
Kind Mr. Halloran, the chef, sits with the boy and secretly
tells him of shining
, how some detect the sorrow-secretions
of those departed, how the dead replay roles in the strangest
ways. Avoid room 237, he warns, what is there won’t change.
Danny pedals his big wheels fast down the halls of the devil
as his father somehow disappears, going faster and farther
than the river of blood only the boy sees, a flood of deep red.
Jack is cruel, unstable, and he frightens Wendy. With dread,
she reads his meaty manuscript, horrified by a revealed secret,
knowing they are miles from help, Oh, dear God, they are so far
from civilization and Jack has retyped duplicate words, strangely,
page after unhinged page. Jack returns, says things that are so evil
that she strikes him with a bat, shocked by this psychotic change.
Wendy drags him into the pantry, locks it, praying he’ll change
back. She rests, but Danny screams and he has scrawled REDRUM
on the door. The mirror deciphers the word, MURDER, as evil
arrives with an ax. What awful things the heart can keep secret,
he has sabotaged the Snowcat; they are powerless and stranded.
Wendy helps Danny escape through a small window, run far,
she weeps as Jack makes kindling of brittle wood, a plot farfetched
yet one she must face. The mouse she has been for years changes
and she stabs his hand. Heaven knows, the soul is omnifarious,
Halloran comes, Jack leaves to plant the ax, a hero’s chest blooms red.
Danny watches what's left of his father die, cries out from his secret
hiding place, a chase ensues in a frozen maze; good outlives evil.
So beware all wayfarers, avoid that next interchange
for secrets fly in the dead of night, traveling the red-eye
and evil can call home the lost, the touched and the very strange.
Okay, so I decided to challenge myself by writing a sestina for Andrea ... one that wouldn't bore her nor sound repetitive. So I wrote a very contemporary sestina inspired by some of the sestinas I'd discovered on my cyber explorations.
These sestinas are UNRULY. LOL. They don't only add suffixs and prefixes, but go farther and reuse a core word a thousand ways, like.. hmmm...like GO could become GOPHER OR GOLF OR GOSLING. Some sestinas have literally shattered the molds and used words based on alliteration ... like wind/wood ...
So, Andrea and I settled on the flick THE SHINING.
If I can't take that plot and write somewhat semi-interesting, I may as well either hang up my pen to dry or type "all work and no play makes Cyndi a dull girl" over and over...
First, I thought of the words... what words...
The words that came to me were:
From these words I was able to get these words...
estranged, stranger, strangle, stranded, strangeness, strangely
secret secretive secretions secretary secretively.. hmmm... I think this is the word I’d like most to just repeat .... one word, one or two variances, I want this word to POP....
far farther faring farewell farside welfare farseeing, wayfarers, farthermost, omnifarious
change changeover unchanged changelings changed exchange interchange
evil, devil, bedevil, daredevil, revile, evildoing, devilment
red redrum dread, redo, jeered, adored, predict, redeem, redolent, redecorate
Now, before some of you think I’m a word genius, I’M NOT. I’m a cyber-hound! For a great resource go to... tada.... http://www.scrabblefinder.com/starts-with/red/
you can play with the program to give you words that contain or words that end. Clever little monkey, ain’t I? LOL!
Then, I began to brainstorm... here is me brainstorming the shining...
Jack, Wendy and Danny Torance
Caretaker, Overlook Hotel
Hotel... opulent, historical, isolated
Jack was told one of the caretakers slaughtered his family, keeps it a secret
Danny has a gift, a “shining”, he is psychic,
Danny hallways, Danny Big Wheel
Daddy’s home ... ax
all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy
blood... oh, yes, right, lots of blood, VISIONS
red doors of the elevator, the river of blood
I take this and set up a basic outline... where I see myself going, but I will always allow for divergence. This just provides me with an idea where I see myself heading and how I want to get there.
1- 2 lines intro to Overlook hotel, 2 lines Jack, the position and the “secret” set the mood
2 – 2 lines on tourOpulence, Presidents have stayed there, Jack’s wife, Wendy, and 2 lines Danny with his Shining gift meet the chef, Dick Halloran –
3- 2 lines Room 237, the river of blood, the ghosts, 2 lines Danny and Wendy in the maze, growing tension, undercurrents 2 lines Jack has hurt Danny in the past, his drinking problem, anger issues...
4- 2 lines the possession of Jack, drinking again, room 237 all work and no play, 2 lines the confrontation, hits him on the head locks him in the pantry
5- 1 line They are stuck at the hotel, 1 lineWendy sleeps Danny in a trance, 2 lines redrum/murder
6- Jack tries to kill Wendy and Danny, axing the door, “Heeeeeeere’s Johnny”
Danny escapes outside, Jack and 2 lines Wendy hear a snowcat, its dick halloran, Jack kills Dick, Danny sees....
1 line Danny runs outside, hides in the maze, evades Jack
1 line Danny escapes the maze, Jack freezes to death
1 line Zero in on the photo... Jack in the twenties at the hotel...
1 A6 F3 C5 E4 D2 B
2 B1 A6 F3 C5 E4 D
3 C5 E4 D2 B1 A6 F
4 D2 B1 A6 F3 C5 E
5 E4 D2 B1 A6 F3 C
6 F3 C5 E4 D2 B1 A
2–5, 4–3, 6–1
Focus on good and evil... first and last word should be evil.... or devilment.
Now I take that outline and find the words I think will work best ... I set up a template with these words... of course, allowing for a change in direction or inspiration. By doing this I set a mood, working towards the word and its connations...
I knew I wanted to start and end with EVIL. It's all about the evil... so...here are the words, what I chose and some notes to self as reminders..
1---1A evil --- devilment - (set the mood the location... The Colorado mountains...)
2B far --- farseeing (personification here.. the hotel itself can see far...)
3C secret - secretive (secretive rooms, hmmm... slaughter , daughter, father...)
4Dchange – changelings (the children alive to ghosts)
5E red – redolent (use opulent, malevolent )
6F strange -
2---6F strange- strangle (, use mangle, wrangle)
1A evil - revile
5E red – prediction
2B far - welfare
4D change - exchange
6F stranger ( use danger, too)
4---red - dread
2B – far
6F strange - estranged
5E – red - redrum
6F-strange – stranded
6F – omnifarious --- the hotel is omnifarious... the mind? Soul?
5E – red .. (the ax hits his heart which blooms, blood-red, )
3C - secret
1A - evil
So, I begin writing... some times I kept to the plan, sometimes I vered sharply left. Hey, once we begin to write who knows where we really will end up.
I am hoping that Andrea likes the sestina and at the very least finds it entertaining and far far far from dull and boring :D We'll see!