Eggplant Parmesan & Spaghetti

April is National Poetry Month

Let’s Write a Tritina Poem

I’ll help you learn about the Tritina today.

Put on your writer’s cap – give it a go. Today I am giving you a modified version of the Sestina.

Here is a comparison to help you understand the differences between Sestina and Tritina:

Sestina has 6, 6-line stanzas.

Tritina has 3, 3-line stanzas.


Sestina begins by selecting 6 words that you will use for your line endings.

Tritina begins by selecting only 3 words for line endings.


Sestina ends with a 3-line envoy and each of the 3 lines contains 2 of your selected words. Total of 6 words are used in the 3 lines.

Tritina ends with a 1-line envoy and contains all 3 of your previously selected words.


Sestina has 39 lines total in the poem.

Tritina has 10 lines total in the poem.


OK, what do you think? Can you give it a try?

Here is my example.

I selected 3 words and assign a NUMBER to each of the words:

  1. Breakfast

  2. Today

  3. shoes

My tip: Choose your words at RANDOM.

Do not try to choose words that seem to make any sense. Just close your eyes and take the first 3 words you think about. This is what makes the MAGIC begin. You are beginning with


in your mind. See where this takes you. It’s pretty exciting to keep your options OPEN the whole way through the writing process. Let the poem lead you to where it wants to go.


My tip: I like to work with a NUMBER instead of a LETTER, to organize my lines.

My brain seems to like the numbers better – who knows why?

Here is the pattern: Stanza one ending words: 1, 2, 3 Stanza two ending words: 3, 1, 2 Stanza three ending words: 2, 3, 1 Last line uses words 1, 2, 3

Here’s my example:


Eggplant Parmesan & Spaghetti

by Lynda McKinney Lambert


It’s early morning and I feel hungry for breakfast

but foods like sunny side up eggs or oatmeal don’t tempt me today

so I put on my jacket and slipped into my outdoor shoes.


I walked through wet morning grass in my waterproof shoes

when the sun came up in the east, I thought more about breakfast

because this is no ordinary morning, today


O, Yes!  This is Resurrection Morning – today

A voice in the burning bush said, “Take off your Shoes!”

“You can have eggplant parmesan with spaghetti for breakfast.”


“Eggplant parmesan with spaghetti  is OK for breakfast? Today?” I quickly removed my shoes!



My final tip: Wait until the poem is completed to your satisfaction.

When it is – choose your title – don’t cheat, wait until the end to do it.

I discovered the title of my poem when I wrote the last lines….

“Eggplant Parmesan and spaghetti  id OK for breakfast? Today?” I quickly removed my new shoes.

Note: I’ll share my thought process in writing this poem. Explicating a poem seems like a challenge to many people because they don’t want to go back and actually think about what they have read. Interpreting a poem depends on a patient reader who spends time with the poem to allow the poem to speak its truth, whatever it is.


One good way to begin is to think about the poetic “I” in a poem. Who is speaking? And, is there more than one voice speaking? Determine what voice you are hearing as you read a poem. The poem is always about communication between YOU (the reader) and the “I” in the poem. The “I” is seldom the person who is writing the poem, by the way.

Since the “poetic voice, or the “I” in this poem is speaking and since it is Easter, I brought in a second voice from the Old Testament – MOSES_ who met God in the form of a burning bush. God told Moses to remove his shoes for he was on holy ground.

As we come to the end of the poem, there is a celebration in which the poetic “I” takes off her shoes and has eggplant parmesan  and spaghetti for breakfast. This indicates that the day we are reading about in the poem is no ordinary day – it is something unusual.


I hope this helps you – and please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions you may have about the Tritina form, or how to write one.

Lynda Lambert


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