"Spirals" by Sasindie Subasinghe (Sri Lanka)

Issue 3.3          November 2021

Read the piece here.

Pre-Reading Quick Write:

First, think of a shape or form. Write a list of ideas, associations, and objects that come to mind when you think about that shape. Consider both concrete and abstract representations (i.e. a coin is literally in the shape of a circle, but also a sense of completion can feel like closing a circle, a circuit, a loop). You may choose to write a list of examples and ideas, or a paragraph of reflection on this shape or form, letting one thought or representation lead to another as you write.

After five minutes, pause and read your work. Is there a mood or tone that becomes evident in your writing? Does a particular thread or theme about the shape stand out as most significant to you?


  1. Identify the various spirals that are referenced throughout the poem. As you consider these objects, what do you notice about the shape of a spiral and how does that shape connect to the overall mood or theme of the poem? What do you think the poet finds intriguing about the spiral and about these spiraled objects—individually and in relation to each other?

  2. “Middle” and “Out” are two of the words used in the structure of the sestina. How is the concept of being in the middle or center of things explored in the poem? And where does the poet write about the outside or moving outward? How do these two concepts play into the idea of a spiral—how are they each important to the ideas expressed in the sestina?

  3. What is the ‘it’ the poet refers to throughout the poem? There could be multiple ideas here; find supporting evidence in the poem to support your interpretation.


  1. Sestina: The form of this poem is a sestina: a form that uses six six-line stanzas, each using the same six words at the end of its lines in different orders, followed by an envoi of three lines using two of those words to each line (poetryarchive.org). Choose six words to use in your own sestina—or exchange a list of six words with a friend and then share your sestinas with each other! Read more about sestinas—and see additional examples—here.  Additional resources: “Why Write Sestinas?” by Camille Guthrie (PoetryFoundation.org) and “Sestina” from the glossary on PoetryArchive.com.

  2. Poetry Analysis Essay: The wealth of imagery, action verbs, and extended metaphor in the sestina “Spirals” makes this poem an excellent subject for a poetry analysis essay. With so many choices of where to focus your analysis (the significance of one particular spiral image; the effect of the action verbs on the theme of the poem; the metaphor the poem builds until the conclusion, etc.) each essay will provide a unique perspective and nuanced reading of the poem—creating a collection of analytical essays that begin with one poem and spiral outward, revealing a whole host of possibilities and ideas.

We hope you and your students enjoy reading and discussing Write the World Review issue 3.3. We hope these writing prompts and discussion questions lead to fruitful discussion, thoughtful analysis, and creative writing in your class. Please reach out to our teacher liaison Lori Pelliccia  (lori@writetheworld.com) with your suggestions and feedback. We'd love to hear which activities you used in class and how we can best support you with our future writing projects and lesson plans. If you have a  moment to provide some feedback on this survey we'd be very appreciative. We look forward to hearing from you, and we wish you and your students all the best in your reading and writing endeavors!

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