The Quintilla, or: Form verses creativity

Sangeetha & David’s new poetry project

Once upon a time, two poets who’d never met in person spontaneously began writing verses back and forth to one another over the Internet. Their first poetry project took them some nine months: a 100 verse Hyakuin.

Once they’d completed their oeuvre, the two decided to continue their creative journey together; and Sangeetha came up with a fun new idea, which David loved – to explore different poetic forms together, working through the Alphabet from ‘A’ to ‘Z’.

Every week, for twenty-six weeks beginning in January of the year 2022, they would take turns selecting poetic forms beginning with the letter corresponding to that particular week (1=A, 2=B, etc., etc.) and write poems to one another using that form.

David suggested they call their new project ‘Form verses creativity’, and so it began.

Q for Quintilla

Sangeetha’s Quintilla

gift wrapped in sweet nostalgia
hands smelling of warm vanilla
her loud laughter, a lullaby 
trailing kisses over my eyes
~ earliest memory of Ma

David’s Copla Real (i.e., double Quintilla)

Will my child think fondly of me?
~ I would earn her eternal trust.
When too old to sit on my knee
~ will our bond still remain a must?
~ how long will she cherish our 'we'?

Fine balance 'tween parent and friend
~ I would classic labels transcend.
Will she know I'm always for her?
~ her close confidant 'til the end?
~ invested in 'are', not just 'were'?


  • Syllabic: octasyllabic (8 syllable lines);
  • Stanzaic: any number of quintains (5 line stanzas);
  • Rhymed: only 2 rhymes per quintain can be used;
    • it cannot end in a rhyming couplet;
    • possible rhyme schemes:
      • ababa, abbab, abaab, aabab, or aabba;
  • Two quintillas (a decastich) is known as Copla Real.

Let’s write poetry together!

When it comes to partnership, some humans can make their lives alone – it’s possible. But creatively, it’s more like painting: you can’t just use the same colours in every painting. It’s just not an option. You can’t take the same photograph every time and live with art forms with no differences.

Ben Harper (b. 1969)

Would you like to create poetry with me and have a completed poem of yours featured here at the Skeptic’s Kaddish? I am very excited to have launched the ‘Poetry Partners’ initiative and am looking forward to meeting and creating with you… Check it out!

23 thoughts on “The Quintilla, or: Form verses creativity”

  1. Love both of these, from Sangeetha’s memories to your future concerns. Such depth of humanity and emotion in each, and obvious love for mother and child. You two should publish a poetry book together. Your collaborative work is exceptional. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. The Times just did an interview with a group of teenagers, and prefaced it by saying we would be surprised by their answers. In fact, only one thing surprised me–if they could ask their 40 year old selves anything, almost all of them mentioned wanting to know that their parents were ok. So I wouldn’t worry too much. (K)

      1. I wonder how we judge what is good. I fought continuously with my parents from adolescence onward, but in retrospect, only the relationship with my father was a good one. It aged well. Of course the fact that my mother had Alzheimer’s didn’t help. But also, I had no way to judge either relationship when I was in the midst of it. I never doubted our love for each other though.

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