Sestina: Like – A Poetry Review

What’s to like in A.E.Stallings’ Sestina: Like? A lot. It’s funny, sarcastic, and rich in language with touches of traditional forms of poetry. The poem caught me unaware, and as I continued to read through it, I was first surprised but quickly moved to nodding my head in full agreement.

Sestina: Like by A.E Stallings is a brilliant take on the usage of the word ‘like’ in the English language today, greatly aided by the fact that the word has been commercialised by this generation’s most used social networking site – Facebook. Stallings’ vivid verses make you want to laugh out loud. Her keen insight into ‘like’ is not lost on today’s generation that teeters between completely liking Facebook and the other half that is unsure of what good it might do them. That latter half is the type that tends to stereotype Facebook behaviour, discounting the importance of ‘likes’ and its incremental value. This poem is a must read for anyone who quite dislikes the importance ‘like’ has in our lives today, whether you like it or not.

I’m not a Facebook lover. I don’t have the app on my phone because I think it allows for mindless scrolling when I have 5 minutes to spare. I hate the fact that it takes over my mind and fingers alike, so easily. I resent how I feel the need to keep checking my account when I update my status to see how many likes I’ve gathered or comments I’ve managed to attract. Yet, in today’s day and age, I know how important it is to have a virtual identity and to stay connected. I know that deleting my account altogether means certain death in the virtual world. The poem touched a raw nerve, and I immediately connected with the emotion in it – a deep dislike coupled with a helplessness that nothing much can change.

A.E Stallings uses traditional forms in her poetry in what is commonly referred to as a poem in the New Formalistic style. The term New Formalism has been referred to as a movement to revive interest in traditional forms of poetry. This is particularly interesting as many poets choose to write using traditional forms despite the move to modernism and the widespread appearance of free verse in the early decades of the 20th century. The New Formalistic form of poetry is easy to read, yet provides the form that traditional poetry lovers enjoy. I personally like the rigour that New Formalism brings back to poetry in terms of rhyme and rhythm at the same time allowing for the creative freedom that free verse allows.

Altogether, in terms of subject, emotion and form, this is a fine piece of poetry to read and enjoy. It’s different, bold and hilarious.

-Sruthi Hamsini

(Image source: poetryfoundation.org)

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