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New Medieval Poetry by Alex Butler


portrait of the author as a poet

The sestina is a form of poetry dating back to the 12th century, and uses a bit of a complex structure. The thirty six line poem uses six words and repeats them throughout the poem, at the end of every line - in this case, the poet uses them for the title of the poem. The order of the words cycle in a rounded fashion, like 123456, 615243, 364125 and so forth.



The immured sonnet is another curious puzzle and uses an equally strange form. The bolded font poem is a structured sonnet built within a wall of text. The sonnet can be read on its own, or along with the surrounding lines. Thirdly, the non-bolded prose can be read completely on its own. The three methods of reading the poem are meant to highlight the complexities of our language, and illustrate the dynamic potential of the written word.


Author's note: This text was selected from B. Catling's "The Vohhr" by the poet.



Alex Butler is a nurse in the operating rooms at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, specializing in the trauma and oncology unit. He is an avid reader and writer, living in Somerville, where he enjoys cooking with his wife, Allison.