Sestina Synthetica: Order of Play

and a few instructions to get things rolling smoothly

Greetings, sestina collaborators!

This post is going to outline info for all players:

  • the groups for each sestina
  • the overarching theme and working title for each group
  • the order of play within each group
  • the order of end-words within each stanza
  • a refresher on how to play
  • instructions for sestina masters
  • what happens if you’ve missed out.
Photo by Michael Gaida (Pixabay)

Blue Group ~ “Kismet Grove

Sestina master: Elizabeth Helmich
Theme/working title: “Borrow”
Order of play: TeriJo, Cynthia Duffy, Godking Heath Houston, Hannah S., Dewi, Indira Reddy, and Elizabeth Helmich
Link: https://medium.com/chalkboard/borrow-bd9cdd39f2bb

End words

Stanza 1: smile, citrus, finish, yes, mystery, fire (by Terijo)
Stanza 2: fire, smile, mystery, citrus, yes, finish (by Cynthia Duffy)
Stanza 3: finish, fire, yes, smile, citrus, mystery (by Godking Heath Houston)
Stanza 4: mystery, finish, citrus, fire, smile, yes (by Hannah S)
Stanza 5: yes, mystery, smile, finish, fire, citrus (by Dewi)
Stanza 6: citrus, yes, fire, mystery, finish, smile (by Indira Reddy)
Envoi (suggested): citrus & smile, yes & finish, fire & mystery (by Elizabeth Helmich)

Green Group ~ “Heavenly Fire

Sestina master: Renae Tobias
Theme/working title: “Fire”
Order of play: Tamyka Bell, Kathy Jacobs, Rachel B. Baxter, Wendi Adair, Jack Preston King, Raymond Arroyo, and Renae Tobias
Link: https://medium.com/chalkboard/fire-79f9e9a59b2e

End words

Stanza 1: catalyst, form, shift, sky, water, choice (by Tamyka Bell)
Stanza 2: choice, catalyst, water, form, sky, shift (by Kathy Jacobs)
Stanza 3: shift, choice, sky, catalyst, form, water (by Rachel B. Baxter)
Stanza 4: water, shift, form, choice, catalyst, sky (by Wendi Adair)
Stanza 5: sky, water, catalyst, shift, choice, form (by Jack Preston King)
Stanza 6: form, sky, choice, water, shift, catalyst (by Raymond Arroyo)
Envoi (suggested): form & catalyst, sky & shift, choice & water (by Renae Tobias)

Banana* Group ~ “Slow Burn

Sestina master: Tamyka Bell
Theme/working title: “Pause”
Order of play: Tasneem Kagalwalla, Kristofer Mac Cormaic, Kunal Duggal, BHD, Alexainie, Vince, and Tamyka Bell
Link: https://medium.com/chalkboard/pause-8e5dea97e0cb

End words

Stanza 1: eligible, disappear, fire, recollection, thought, muse (by Tasneem Kagalwalla)
Stanza 2: muse, eligible, thought, disappear, recollection, fire (by Kristofer Mac Cormaic)
Stanza 3: fire, muse, recollection, eligible, disappear, thought (by Kunal Duggal)
Stanza 4: thought, fire, disappear, muse, eligible, recollection (by BHD)
Stanza 5: recollection, thought, eligible, fire, muse, disappear (by Alexainie)
Stanza 6: disappear, recollection, muse, thought, fire, eligible (by Vince)
Envoi (suggested): disappear & eligible, recollection & fire, muse & thought (by Tamyka Bell)

*because BHD requested it, on the grounds of…something. If anyone is allergic, I’m sorry. Bananas are a great source of carbs and potassium. Omnomnom. Honestly, I only picked these colours because they were the ones that looked good in my spreadsheet. Oh, yes. There’s a spreadsheet…

Peach Group ~ “Heart Strings

Sestina master: Yaasky
Theme/working title: “Finish”
Order of play: Dewi, Emily Roberts, Janet Rhodes, Kathleen Clarke Anderson, Michael Stalcup, marika bianca, and Yaasky
Link: https://medium.com/chalkboard/finish-7e4afd6ddd21

End words

Stanza 1: mark, listen, stranger, enough, razor, treason (by Dewi)
Stanza 2: treason, mark, razor, listen, enough, stranger (by Emily Roberts)
Stanza 3: stranger, treason, enough, mark, listen, razor (by Janet Rhodes)
Stanza 4: razor, stranger, listen, treason, mark, enough (by Kathleen Clarke Anderson)
Stanza 5: enough, razor, mark, stranger, treason, listen (by Michael Stalcup)
Stanza 6: listen, enough, treason, razor, stranger, mark (by marika bianca)
Envoi (suggested): listen & mark, enough & stranger, treason & razor (by Yaasky)

Salmon Group ~ “Sententious Babbling

Sestina master: Kristofer Mac Cormaic
Theme/working title: “Sword”
Order of play: Yaasky, Indira Reddy, Vince, Renae Tobias, Kinnera Priya Putti, Kathy Jacobs, and Kristofer Mac Cormaic
Link: https://medium.com/chalkboard/sword-working-title-131e09c5ac97 (Sorry, I forgot to edit that one before I published, so it says “working title”.)

End words

Stanza 1: babbling, stitches, air, silver, sententious, missile (by Yaasky)
Stanza 2: missile, babbling, sententious, stitches, silver, air (by Indira Reddy)
Stanza 3: air, missile, silver, babbling, stitches, sententious (by Vince)
Stanza 4: sententious, air, stitches, missile, babbling, silver (by Renae Tobias)
Stanza 5: silver, sententious, babbling, air, missile, stitches (by Kinnera Priya Putti)
Stanza 6: stitches, silver, missile, sententious, air, babbling (by Kathy Jacobs)
Envoi (suggested): stitches & babbling, silver & air, missile & sententious (by Kristofer Mac Cormaic)

Grape Group ~ “Reflections of the Sea

Sestina master: Heath Houston
Theme/working title: “Moonlight”
Special condition: iambic pentameter
Order of play: Elizabeth Helmich, Michael Stalcup, Hannah S., Tasneem Kagalwalla, Kathleen Clarke Anderson, Rachel B. Baxter, and Heath Houston
Link: https://medium.com/chalkboard/moonlight-d56bb2b0351c

End words

Stanza 1: waves, fulfill, still, ending, breath, wonder (by Elizabeth Helmich)
Stanza 2: wonder, waves, breath, fulfill, ending, still (by Michael Stalcup)
Stanza 3: still, wonder, ending, waves, fulfill, breath (by Hannah S.)
Stanza 4: breath, still, fulfill, wonder, waves, ending (by Tasneem Kagalwalla)
Stanza 5: ending, breath, waves, still, wonder, fulfill (by Kathleen Clarke Anderson)
Stanza 6: fulfill, ending, wonder, breath, still, waves (by Rachel B. Baxter)
Envoi (suggested): fulfill & waves, ending & still, wonder & breath (by Heath Houston)

Razzmatazz Group ~ “Imagine

Sestina master: Michael Stalcup
Theme/working title: “Imagination”
Order of play: Wendi Adair, marika bianca, Shahzeb Akhter, Tamyka Bell, TeriJo, Kunal Duggal, and Michael Stalcup
Link: https://medium.com/chalkboard/imagination-ec24ed95242b

End words

Stanza 1: interminable, skin, teeth, verify, soul, bloom (by Wendi Adair)
Stanza 2: bloom, interminable, soul, skin, verify, teeth (by marika bianca)
Stanza 3: teeth, bloom, verify, interminable, skin, soul (by Shahzeb Akhter)
Stanza 4: soul, teeth, skin, bloom, interminable, verify (by Tamyka Bell)
Stanza 5: verify, soul, interminable, teeth, bloom, skin (by TeriJo)
Stanza 6: skin, verify, bloom, soul, teeth, interminable (by Kunal Duggal)
Envoi (suggested): skin & interminable, verify & teeth, bloom & soul (by Michael Stalcup)


How to play

  1. The first poet in each group can start immediately. Other poets should wait until you are tagged to take your turn, so you can build off the previous stanzas to create a cohesive sestina.
  2. Draft your sestet stanza as a new story on Medium. Please single-space your poem.
  3. Prepare it for publication the way you usually would, with a title and an image (with appropriate attribution).
  4. At the bottom of your sestet, add the following text, inserting your stanza number and linked poem title* as appropriate.
    This poem is the <nth> stanza of <hyperlinked poem title> from the Sestina Synthetica project on Chalkboard.
     (If you’re writing the opening stanza, you’ll need to go back and add a link to the poem once your sestina master has published it.)
  5. Before publishing, add the tag “Sestina Synthetica” to your story, plus any other tags you’d like to use.
  6. Submit your sestet to your preferred Medium publication as a draft or published story in accordance with their submission guidelines, or publish directly. Please do not submit your stanza to Chalkboard — we want to publish the whole poems here, and we want your individual stanzas to shine elsewhere.
  7. Let your sestina master know it’s time to update and publish your group poem, and let your group’s next poet know it’s their turn, by tagging them both in your post, or in a response to your post, or by contacting them through other means. Please do not hold up the sestina while you wait for publication — share the draft with your group.

If you’re having trouble understanding these instructions, please have a look at Chalkboard’s previous project Chained, which followed the same pattern of publishing each stanza separately and publishing the whole poem in one spot.

*I’ll be adding the links as soon as I can.


For the sestina masters

I want your name, not mine, to appear as the author for your group’s sestina, and I want all participants to be acknowledged. So I’ve prepared a template that you can copy and paste to get started. Please do the following as soon as you can:

  1. Visit the template here: https://medium.com/@tamyka/borrow-working-title-73af785ed334.
  2. Copy and paste it into a new draft on Medium.
  3. Update the title with your working title as shown in this story.
  4. Update the subtitle with the names of your group members. You can just cut and paste it from this story.
  5. Add a picture with appropriate attribution (as described above).
  6. Leave all the other TK notes as they are.
  7. Submit your story as a draft to Chalkboard.

I’ll accept the draft and make any required changes. Once the first stanza is prepared and added, let me know and I’ll publish them. From then on, you’ll be able to update the story with new stanzas whenever you like.


For those who have missed out…for now

We’re now moving onto the cleave chain collaboration, but please let us know if you’ve got a burning desire to start one more sestina group.


The nature of this project means the instructions are bound to get a bit confusing, but it all comes down to your number one goal: to write a stanza for your sestina. Everything else can be sorted on the fly!

~ T