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November 19, 2007

Sestina's in Action (Foam!)

When first trying to consider what type of real life example could be a Sestina I first struggled to come up with an example. I had to think hard because it seemed that at first I wasn't aware of anything that fit into this category. Then it hit me. I have a ton of hands-on experience with Sestina's from this past summer. A Sestina is something that is regulated to a fixed form, a specific set of rules that govern the construction of a poam. This summer I worked at Huntsman Polyurethanes. What's a Polyurethane?. But more specifically, polyurethane is foam. What kind of foam? Foam that is used everywhere: the seats in cars; the seats in computer chairs; insulation; and my specialty (or at least what I worked on this summer) footwear. Check out the video below of polyurethane 'foaming.'

Exciting, I know.

So how is this a Sestina? A polyurethane is defined by two polymeric chains, a polyol and an isocyanate, that are connected with a urethane linkage. I see the urethane linkage as the rules that are set for a Sestina, in the same way a polyurethane is only a polyurethane if the two polymeric chains are connected with urethane bonds. But in the same way that a Sestina can apply to different sets of words, polyurethanes are not limited to certain kinds of polymeric chains. This is what differentiates polyurethane foams used in insulation (typically referred to as rigid foams) from polyurethane foams used in seating (typically referred to as flexible foams). Although both foams are made up of urethane linkages, the functional groups on both the polyol and the isocyanate can be varied to create the desired foam.

Posted by ndjames at November 19, 2007 05:13 PM


Quite fine; I see very much how well the generalities of the form apply to this situation.

Indeed thre sestina is engineered to produce a particular outcome, and a similar outcome with each usage of the formula.

How apt --and exciting to know that the framework fits into, is compatible with other systems of making --can have purpose both within and beyond poetry, extending the meanings associated with use of the form to generalities about making and the formation of useful links.

Thanks for this revealing post.

Posted by: thyliasm at November 26, 2007 03:13 PM

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