Background Notes for Seven to One
For the first visible poem we post in Heptahedron, we have selected one on which all authors in our group collaborated. (Yes, even the one who wishes to remain in the background.)
Since Sara’s vision was the spark that gave birth to our collaborative effort, for this initial visible poem we relied on a 7-line 7-stanza form that was first presented in Sara’s remarkable essay, A Numbers Theory of the Sestina and Similar Repeating Forms. As Sara pointed out in her development of this 7th-order version, the near familiarity of this form’s stanzas is almost seductively deceptive – the casual observer might think we are seeing the main stanzas of a classic sestina! And as Sara observes, her formulation does preserve the essential character of the retrogradatio cruciata procedure, insofar as her form exhibits recycling and uniqueness.
Each author took primary responsibility for one of the seven teleutons, composing the initial draft of each line ending with the assigned teleuton. The author with the teleuton for the first line of a given stanza drafted a background idea of where that stanza was meant to go. All authors worked with each other to try to make the lines flow together toward a single voice and unified style as though a single hand had written the entire work. Each author also helped each other author rather generously with ideas, corrections, variations and other suggestions. That said, the work remained an open collaboration in the sense that each author remained free to see and say whatever they felt true to the effort.
Besides there being well over a hundred revisions before the public posting for this poem, we do not consider the current version to be final – there will be further revisions. Along the way there were two very major restarts of the entire effort, both after well over half the lines of earlier versions had been drafted, and both major restarts sorely trying the patience and collaborative spirit of every one of us. Part of that struggle represented new learning of the form – watch for completely new versions of the “heptina” form in future postings! All was well and remains well, as any two or more who work or play or communicate together honestly and openly would know.