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Poem of the Week by Norma Kassirer

By Norma Kassirer

Six minutes to comprehend

the sestina

and coax it into saying

something about life

that’s interesting

and sustainable for six stanzas.

Let us say that the discipline of the stanza

stands for something incomprehensible

at first, but yielding perhaps to the disinterested

(we pray) diligence of the sestina’s

present writer, whose living

does not depend on saying

it just right, which is to say

fashioning each stanza

to the lively

demands of both art and comprehension

of a certain intellectual stature sestinaed

just enough to enable a well-seasoned disinterest

to yield a sufficient percentage of interest

to the reader about what is being said,

though the demands of the sestina

upon its author are sometimes more than on can stanza

and one may even take to drink to avoid comprehension

of how one may have played so long and loose with life

and its rules about the lively

expression of what interests

one’s own pen or tongue, that miscomprehension

by another of what is or is not being said

may sink a sailing stanza

and its crew, one’s sestina

self perhaps, the sestina

representing life

now, and the stanzas

its passing years, some more interesting

than others. But one’s hope is that what is being said

about it matters, not just for ease of comprehension,

but perhaps for the sextained pleasure of interesting

oneself in life by speaking

joy in stanzas the soul at least may comprehend.

NORMA KASSIRER, the Buffalo-based writer and artist whose works ranged from children’s fiction to experimental prose and poetry, and from collage pieces and handmade artist’s books to painted murals, died in February 2013 at age 89. Friends and colleagues of Kassirer, including the three generations of Buffalo writers and artists her progressive and forward-thinking wisdom, wit and grace influenced, will gather at 5 p.m. June 27 at the Brighton Place Library, 999 Brighton Road, Town of Tonawanda, to celebrate the book launch of “Minnows Small as Sixteenth Notes: The Collected Poems of Norma Kassirer,” edited by Ann Goldsmith and Edric Mesmer, and published by Kenmore-based BlazeVOX Books.