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Poetry Fishbowl Open! - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
Poetry Fishbowl Open!
The Poetry Fishbowl is now CLOSED. Thank you all for your enthusiasm.

Starting now, the Poetry Fishbowl is open!  Today's theme is "wild animals."  I will be checking this page periodically throughout the day. When people make suggestions, I'll pick some and weave them together into a poem ... and then another ... and so on. I'm hoping to get a lot of ideas and a lot of poems.

Watch for the linkbacks perk to go live.  Click to read "Grit and Grace" (Path of the Paladins) or notify [info]minor_architect of linkbacks to reveal more verses.

What Is a Poetry Fishbowl?

Writing is usually considered a solitary pursuit. One exception to this is a fascinating exercise called a "fishbowl." This has various forms, but all of them basically involve some kind of writing in public, usually with interaction between author and audience. A famous example is Harlan Ellison's series of "stories under glass" in which he sits in a bookstore window and writes a new story based on an idea that someone gives him. Writing classes sometimes include a version where students watch each other write, often with students calling out suggestions which are chalked up on the blackboard for those writing to use as inspiration.

In this online version of a Poetry Fishbowl, I begin by setting a theme; today's theme is "wild animals." I invite people to suggest characters, settings, and other things relating to that theme. Then I use those prompts as inspiration for writing poems.

Cyberfunded Creativity

I'm practicing cyberfunded creativity. If you enjoy what I'm doing and want to see more of it, please feed the Bard. The following options are currently available:

1) Sponsor the Fishbowl -- Here is a PayPal button for donations. There is no specific requirement, but $1 is the minimum recommended size for PayPal transactions since they take a cut from every one. You can also donate via check or money order sent by postal mail. If you make a donation and tell me about it, I promise to use one of your prompts. Anonymous donations are perfectly welcome, just won't get that perk. General donations will be tallied, and at the end of the fishbowl I’ll post a list of eligible poems based on the total funding; then the audience can vote on which they want to see posted.

2) Swim, Fishie, Swim! -- A new feature in conjunction with fishbowl sponsorship is this progress meter showing the amount donated.  At $150 you get a free series poem; at $200 you get an extra fishbowl featuring a poetic series.

$214.50 raised, first goal MET, second goal MET

3) Buy It Now! -- Gakked from various e-auction sites, this feature allows you to sponsor a specific poem. If you don't want to wait for some editor to buy and publish my poem so you can read it, well, now you don't have to. Sponsoring a poem means that I will immediately post it on my blog for everyone to see, with the name of the sponsor (or another dedicate) if you wish; plus you get a nonexclusive publication right, so you can post it on your own blog or elsewhere as long as you keep the credits intact. You'll need to tell me the title of the poem you want to sponsor. I'm basing the prices on length, and they're comparable to what I typically make selling poetry to magazines (semi-pro rates according to Duotrope's Digest).

0-10 lines: $5
11-25 lines: $10
26-40 lines: $15
41-60 lines: $20
Poems over 60 lines, or with very intricate structure, fall into custom pricing.

4) Commission a scrapbook page. I can render a chosen poem in hardcopy format, on colorful paper, using archival materials for background and any embellishments. This will be suitable for framing or for adding to a scrapbook. Commission details are here.  See latest photos of sample scrapbooked poems: "Sample Scrapbooked Poems 1-24-11"

5) Spread the word. Echo or link to this post on your LiveJournal, other blog, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Digg, StumbleUpon, or any other social network.  The Twitter hashtag is #poetryfishbowl.  Encourage people to come here and participate in the fishbowl.  If you have room for it, including your own prompt will give your readers an idea of what the prompts should look like; ideally, update later to include the thumbnail of the poem I write, and a link to the poem if it gets published.  If there is at least one new prompter or donor, I will post an extra freebie poem.

Linkback perk: I have a spare series poem available, and each linkback will reveal a verse of the poem.  One person can do multiple links if they're on different services, like Dreamwidth or Twitter, rather than all on LiveJournal.  minor_architect has volunteered to post the verses this month, so you'll need to notify her of your linkbacks in a comment to her post, in order for them to count.  "Grit and Grace" belongs to the Path of the Paladins series and has 18 verses.  After this poem is completely posted, you'll get a chance to decide something that happens next, so link briskly if you want to find out what the surprise is.

Additional Notes

1) I customarily post replies to prompt posts telling people which of their prompts I'm using, with a brief description of the resulting poem(s). If you want to know what's available, watch for those "thumbnails."

2) You don't have to pay me to see a poem based on a prompt that you gave me. I try to send copies of poems to people, mostly using the LJ message function.  (Anonymous prompters will miss this perk unless you give me your eddress.)  These are for-your-eyes-only, though, not for sharing.

3) Sponsors of the Poetry Fishbowl in general, or of specific poems, will gain access to an extra post in appreciation of their generosity.  While you're on the Donors list, you can view all of the custom-locked posts in that category.  Click the "donors" tag to read the archive of those.  I've also posted a list of other donor perks there.  I customarily leave donor names on the list for two months, so you'll get to see the perk-post from this month and next.

4) After the Poetry Fishbowl concludes, I will post a list of unsold poems and their prices, to make it easier for folks to see what they might want to sponsor.

5) If donations total $150+ by Friday evening then I'll post an extra series poem after the Poetry Fishbowl.  Everyone will get to vote which series gets a new poem.  (If it's one that already has unpublished poetry, you'll get to pick from that.  Otherwise, I'll write something new, and current donors will get to offer me prompts.)  If donations reach $200, the perk upgrades so that you get a whole extra fishbowl for a poetic series, including a free poem.  Everyone will get to vote on which series, and give prompts during the extra fishbowl, although it's likely to be a half-day rather than a whole day.  At $250 you get another free series poem; you can request both from the same series, or from two different series.

Feed the Fish!
Now's your chance to participate in the creative process by posting ideas for me to write about. Today's theme is "wild animals."  I'll be soliciting ideas for historic or modern species, individual animals, people who work with wild animals, tools used by wild animals, interesting environmental features, wilderness habitats, things that wild animals do, things that people do with or to wild animals, peculiar life cycle events, mysteries such as species that are believed extinct but might not be, animal symbolism, and poetic forms in particular. But anything is welcome, really. If you manage to recommend a form that I don't recognize, I will probably pounce on it and ask you for its rules. I do have the first edition of Lewis Turco's The Book of Forms which covers most common and many obscure forms.

I'll post at least one of the fishbowl poems here so you-all can enjoy it. (Remember, you get an extra freebie poem if someone new posts a prompt or makes a donation, an extra series poem  if donations reach $150+, a series fishbowl  if donations reach $200, and another free series poem at $250.  Linkbacks reveal verses of "Grit and Grace.") The rest of the poems will go into my archive for magazine submission.

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57 comments or Leave a comment
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ellenmillion From: ellenmillion Date: February 7th, 2012 06:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
A Torn World predator of some kind.

Sea monsters! :)

The act of domestication.

Track identification.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 7th, 2012 08:03 pm (UTC) (Link)


From "track identification" I got the free-verse poem "Impressions of the North," which I've posted as today's freebie.
(Deleted comment)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 7th, 2012 11:06 pm (UTC) (Link)


For scavengers, see "The Death Tenders" which has been sponsored.
siege From: siege Date: February 7th, 2012 07:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
Some animals are never truly tamed.

Society among ravens

Even the eldest still play sometimes

Small children (acting like)


Urban wildlife
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 7th, 2012 11:23 pm (UTC) (Link)


The "otherkin" prompt combined with many others to describe some of the gifts enjoyed by those who are not solely human. "The Earthborn" is written in free verse.

30 lines, Buy It Now = $15

Edited at 2012-02-08 01:15 am (UTC)
the_vulture From: the_vulture Date: February 7th, 2012 07:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
My very first LJ post: Why a vulture?
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 7th, 2012 07:32 pm (UTC) (Link)


From prompts about vultures and other scavengers, I got the free-verse poem "The Death Tenders." It describes the importance of their role in both environmental and spiritual terms.

45 lines, Buy It Now = $20
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 7th, 2012 07:01 pm (UTC) (Link)


Anthony Barrette prompted backchannel for a poem about wildly complaining cats in a carrier. The result is "Tinned Kitties."

12 lines, Buy It Now = $10
aldersprig From: aldersprig Date: February 7th, 2012 07:57 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Poem

/laugh/ that's tomorrow for me, taking the Sugar Cat to the vet!
the_vulture From: the_vulture Date: February 7th, 2012 07:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
Also, the unexpected savagery of pandas and other 'cute' animals
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 8th, 2012 05:59 am (UTC) (Link)


Unexpected savagery led to the free-verse poem "Cute in Tooth and Claw" about the hazards of pandas, koalas, and platypi.

19 lines, Buy It Now = $10
janetmiles From: janetmiles Date: February 7th, 2012 07:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
Baby humans are cute so their parents don't strangle them. Why are baby non-humans typically cute in ways that appeal to humans?

What if humans had domesticated different animals than they did (frex, zebras instead of horses, or giraffes instead of camels)?

"Why are you snapping your fingers?"
"It keeps the tigers away."
"But there are no tigers in North America!"
"See how well it works?"

Superstitions related to wild animals, like counting crows or saying "rabbit rabbit rabbit" on the first day of the month for luck.

Wild animals adapting to habitat changes (e.g., moths where the entire species developed a darker color in response to pollution).
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 7th, 2012 11:38 pm (UTC) (Link)


From the prompt about animal adaptations came "Truth in Theory and Practice" which describes three examples of a common process. This poem is written in unrhymed quatrains.

16 lines, Buy It Now = $10
marina_bonomi From: marina_bonomi Date: February 7th, 2012 07:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
A falconer working with owls instead than falcons.

Androcles and the lion http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Androcles

the toad saving the mouse in a flood http://onewomansthoughts2day.blogspot.com/2012/01/unexpectedly.html

animal-raised children (feral children)

moonwolf1988 From: moonwolf1988 Date: February 7th, 2012 07:25 pm (UTC) (Link)

Extinct animals still being alive - would we have tamed the woolly mammoth and kept the sabre tooth tiger in a zoo?

Why would a wild animal choose to be the animal totem of a human?
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 8th, 2012 12:47 am (UTC) (Link)


See below for thumbnail of "The Wolves of Yellowstone."
marina_bonomi From: marina_bonomi Date: February 7th, 2012 07:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
I keep getting an image of Maryam with a cheetah on a leash. Is it for real? An extravagant gift from an happy client? Is it a rescue? Or is it how she thinks of herself sometimes?
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 7th, 2012 10:33 pm (UTC) (Link)


I combined your cheetah prompt with several related ones about domesticating wild animals. It turns out that domesticating cheetahs is a lot more feasible with alchemy than without it, though still not exactly easy. They're sensitive to alchemical energies, too, which is an uncommon trait and highly valued. This comes in very handy when some of Maryam's friends present her with a cheetah, for London is an old city and not all of its fixtures are maintained quite as well as they ought to be.

169 lines, Buy It Now = $84.50
aldersprig From: aldersprig Date: February 7th, 2012 08:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
Small and fierce creatures (sandcat, frex)

My father, alderfather, saw a bear in his front yard, and someone found a dead fisher not two blocks from them. In exurban upstate NY, this is a rarity, but becoming more common.


"Possum in its natural state" (i.e., roadkill)

A world where our predators adapted as we did

Edited at 2012-02-07 08:06 pm (UTC)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 8th, 2012 12:50 am (UTC) (Link)


Sandcat and possum are in "Earthborn" described above.
jenny_evergreen From: jenny_evergreen Date: February 7th, 2012 08:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
Birds gliding; my son and I were just talking about this this morning, how they "stop" flying but stay in the sky. I talked to him about how predator birds like hawks and eagles sometimes glide so that they don't give away their presence to prey, and then I mentioned that owls do that, too, and we had a discussion about how owls are nocturnal and what that means (he knew) and that we are diurnal, generally.

My totem is the turtle or tortoise; my oldest son's is the hare. Of course, the story of the tortoise and the hare comes to mind.

(My other son's totem is chameleon.)

Snakes. Sinuous.

The human in the wild.

My husband and I were talking about how, back before "modern civilization", the area we live in would probably have been deserted by people every winter for warmer climes.
It must have been interesting to the animals that stayed.

ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 8th, 2012 12:52 am (UTC) (Link)


Snakes are in "The Earthborn" described above.
puffbird From: puffbird Date: February 7th, 2012 08:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oooh... what happens to people who try to domesticate animals that resist domestication? E.g. big cats, zebras...

Or people who take domestication for granted...?
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 8th, 2012 12:53 am (UTC) (Link)


It helps if you have alchemy to assist domestication. See the cheetah in "A Keen Eye for Alchemy."
marina_bonomi From: marina_bonomi Date: February 7th, 2012 08:17 pm (UTC) (Link)

Another one

...and then I'll shut my mouth, I promise.

One Thousand Cranes
whuffle From: whuffle Date: February 7th, 2012 08:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
What about wild animals with domestic kin? The ones whom we should respect that belong in the wild?

I'm specifically thinking of the experiences I've had with people calling the domestic rabbit rescue that I volunteer for about wild bunnies.

They call when they don't know how to tell the difference between the appearance of wild versus domestic rabbits. They call when they find a baby wild bunny whom they think is abandoned and needs to be taken care of by humans. They call when there's a wild rabbit that they think is in danger or injured.

When do we have the right to intervene? When should we allow nature to take its course? And when is our true place simply that as nature's handmaiden, helping whatever should happen to continue doing so in as natural a fashion as possible?
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 8th, 2012 01:11 am (UTC) (Link)


From the prompt about rabbits and intervention came "Changing Nature," a free-verse poem about conscious and subconscious forces in evolution, the choices people make and the effects those have.

30 lines, Buy It Now = $15
siliconshaman From: siliconshaman Date: February 7th, 2012 08:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
I wonder what actual wild animals would think [if they could put it into words], about humans trying to be animals, i.e furries.

What if your spirit animal, or totem, is an extinct species? Think there might be some bitterness?
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 8th, 2012 01:48 am (UTC) (Link)


The prompt about extinct totems turned into a free-verse poem, "Iconoclysm," about several ancient species and what they might offer us or want from us.

30 lines, Buy It Now = $15
zianuray From: zianuray Date: February 7th, 2012 10:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
Donated and linked :)

What do the animals think about the two-leggers swimming in their drinking water?

Discussion between a wild Possum and a farm-dog Dachshund?

What do Magpies do with the shiny things they pick up? Is it for magic?

Some wild creature Fiorenza encounters regularly.

Edited at 2012-02-07 10:05 pm (UTC)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 8th, 2012 03:41 am (UTC) (Link)


From your prompt about Fiorenza and wild creatures, I got "Fiorenza and the Forest Wild," a free-verse poem about her rambles through the sacred groves above the village. She learns about the world by observing the plants and animals there. Not explicitly stated in the poem, but worth mentioning, is that this subtly underscores her magical power because the forest is a place of challenge in traditional fairytales.

59 lines, Buy It Now = $20
From: minor_architect Date: February 7th, 2012 10:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
How about a poem using the concept of keystone species? This is defined as "species that play a disproportionately large role in the prevalence and population levels of other species within their ecosystem or community." A good article on the concept may be found here.

Perhaps this could be applied in...interesting...ways to an ecosystem on an alien planet? ;)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 8th, 2012 12:14 am (UTC) (Link)


Two people asked for wolves, so the "keystone species" turned into the free-verse poem "The Wolves of Yellowstone" detailing changes to the ecosystem. It's written in unrhymed tercets.

27 lines, Buy It Now = $15

Edited at 2012-02-08 01:25 am (UTC)
(Deleted comment)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 8th, 2012 05:14 am (UTC) (Link)


You asked for deities with animals forms, and the_vulture and I have been discussing sacred vultures. So that reminded me of an Egyptian goddess, and the result is "Hymn to Nekhbet," written in unrhymed couplets.

8 lines, Buy It Now = $5
laffingkat From: laffingkat Date: February 7th, 2012 10:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
Some of my favorite of your poems are when you capture the feelings and perspectives of different animals. Since I'm feeling ready for spring, I wonder how wild animals might feel as spring approaches. What's it like for those who hibernate when they first wake? Or those who must perform elaborate courtship rituals to find a mate?
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 7th, 2012 11:05 pm (UTC) (Link)


Your prompt about animals in spring led to the free-verse poem "Birthquake," which looks at the realms of land (bears), sky (birds), and water (salmon) as they awaken to the new season.

33 lines, Buy It Now = $15
meeksp From: meeksp Date: February 7th, 2012 10:33 pm (UTC) (Link)

Graceful preadators. Stormy recently compared the sight of two of her professional scary people characters dancing to 'sharks being cute, or lions not eating a gazelle' and I liked the image.

ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 8th, 2012 01:16 am (UTC) (Link)


Aardvark appears in "The Earthborn" described above.
alicephilippa From: alicephilippa Date: February 8th, 2012 01:28 am (UTC) (Link)
Cat meets Dodo

Garbage fowl

ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 8th, 2012 02:09 am (UTC) (Link)


Several folks asked for animal pairs, including this one about Cat and Dodo. The result is "Conversations Across the Fence," a free-verse poem in which wild and domestic animals discuss their respective situations.

57 lines, Buy It Now = $20
kelkyag From: kelkyag Date: February 8th, 2012 01:35 am (UTC) (Link)
Feral-reverting-to-wild animals

Solitary bees


Long-range migrations

Recolonization of disrupted, abandoned, or restored areas

Adaptation to fill an empty niche

Unexpectedly wide-ranging ecological relationships. (I recall reading that one consequence of daming certain rivers where salmon used to run is that bears no longer haul vast quantities of salmon out of the river and strew their carcasses through the woods where they decompose and fertilize the soil, contributing to a reduction in plant diversity in the surrounding forests.)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 8th, 2012 02:23 am (UTC) (Link)


I liked the idea of recolonizing disrupted areas. "Island in a Sea of Fire" is a free-verse poem telling the succession of plant and animal life following a volcanic eruption.

41 lines, Buy It Now = $20
wyld_dandelyon From: wyld_dandelyon Date: February 8th, 2012 02:53 am (UTC) (Link)

My Angel suggests


whale sharks

manta rays


komodo dragons

green tree boas, who snatch macaws out of the air

cave swifts, because you can make soup out of their nests

ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 8th, 2012 06:04 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: My Angel suggests

The Komodo dragon prompt led to "Death Lizards," which has been posted as today's second freebie poem.
wyld_dandelyon From: wyld_dandelyon Date: February 8th, 2012 02:58 am (UTC) (Link)

...and some suggestions from me



possums, because I startled one at our compost the other day, and got growled at

raccoons because the young raccoons in our rowan tree a few years back were so cute

feral cats

betta spendens
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 8th, 2012 03:43 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: ...and some suggestions from me

I put the butterflies into "Fiorenza and the Forest Wild," described above.

Possum appeared earlier today in "The Earthborn" and "Conversations Over the Fence."
57 comments or Leave a comment
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