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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 "influential women."  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 "The Four Maras" (Kung Fu Robots, 16 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 "influential women." 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.  There are multiple perks, the top one being a half-price poetry sale on one series when donations reach $300.

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.  Useful Twitter hashtags include #poetryfishbowl and #promptcall.  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.  dreamwriters 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.  "The Four Maras" belongs to the series Kung Fu Robots and has 16 verses.

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 $100 by Friday evening then you get a free $15 poem; $150 gets you a free $20 poem; and $200 gets you a free epic, posted after the Poetry Fishbowl.  These will usually be series poems if I have them; otherwise I may offer non-series poems or series poems in a different size.  If donations reach $250, you get one step toward a bonus fishbowl; three of these activates the perk, and they don't have to be three months in a row.  Everyone will get to vote on which series, and give prompts during the extra fishbowl, although it may be a half-day rather than a whole day.  If donations reach $300, you get a half-price sale for one week in one series.  Everyone will get to vote on which series to feature in the sale, out of those with extra poems available.

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 "influential women."  I'm soliciting ideas for queens, women in science, heras, women in literature, historic and mythic figures, people who love them, symbols of women's power, tools women use, things that women have appropriated from men (or vice versa), historic locations discovered or made famous by women, battlegrounds where women won, the palaces of queens or empresses, important discoveries made by women, women's contributions to literature, historic events that women influenced, 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, and additional perks at $100-$300 in donations.  Linkbacks reveal verses of "The Four Maras.") The rest of the poems will go into my archive for magazine submission.

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74 comments or Leave a comment
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paka From: paka Date: November 6th, 2012 06:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm still not in a position where I can put out money. My suggestions, in case you can use them anyway, are Sichelgaita; Freydis Eriksdottir; Tomoe Gozen (since you seem to really like east Asian history); and the Night Witches, who were just plain amazing.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 6th, 2012 07:57 pm (UTC) (Link)


From your prompt about Freydis Eriksdottir I got the poem "The Saga of Eriksdottir," belonging to The Asgard Eddas. When the men of her settlement falter under an alien attack, she takes up arms to defend it herself. This poem is written in unrhymed quatrains with the central caesura that essentially doubles each verse, so I'm pricing it at $1/line.

60 lines, Buy It Now = $60
rix_scaedu From: rix_scaedu Date: November 6th, 2012 06:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
petitioning the great lady

the unexpected hera and her life afterwards

the beacon in and against the dark
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 7th, 2012 03:01 am (UTC) (Link)


Your beacon prompt fed into "Gifts of Simplicity," thumbnailed below.
e_scapism101 From: e_scapism101 Date: November 6th, 2012 06:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
Specific ladies I've been reading about lately (who may suggest archetypes): Marquise de Pompadour, Madame du Barry, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Eleanor of Castile (the White Queen), Katherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Catharine Parr, Katherine Swynford, Juana the Mad, Isabelle of Castile, Caroline Matilda of Denmark...I'll just stop now.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 7th, 2012 12:47 am (UTC) (Link)


Based on your prompt, "The Queen of Thrones" is a free-verse poem about Catherine Parr. It traces the lines of her influence through several monarchs.

31 lines, Buy It Now = $15
thesilentpoet From: thesilentpoet Date: November 6th, 2012 06:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
Eleanor Roosevelt.

Women's Suffrage Movement.

Can today's women pop singers be considered influential?

Fiorenza the Wise Woman - realization that more than one child in the village looks up to her.

Mulan's legend

When I was studying martial arts, I learned a traditional 'woman's' kata, which was choreographed with the idea that a "proper" woman wore long skirts (with bustle), and likely had young children hiding under the skirts. How might this be interpreted within the idea of a woman being taught to protect her home?
marina_bonomi From: marina_bonomi Date: November 6th, 2012 06:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
Mulan seconded. :)
marina_bonomi From: marina_bonomi Date: November 6th, 2012 06:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
Elena Cornaro http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elena_Cornaro_Piscopia (the first woman to receive an university degree)

Madame Curie

The Great Countess http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matilda_of_Tuscany

Adelaide of Burgundy http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adelaide_of_Italy

Christine de Pisan http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christine_de_Pizan
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 7th, 2012 03:57 am (UTC) (Link)


From the prompt about Adelaide of Italy, I got "Her Burgundy Robe." This poem is written in unrhymed quatrains, describing her life and patronage.

24 lines, Buy It Now = $10
jenny_evergreen From: jenny_evergreen Date: November 6th, 2012 06:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
Mothers, for good or ill, are very often the most influential woman in a person's life.
janetmiles From: janetmiles Date: November 6th, 2012 07:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
Indeed; I had been planning for "single mother working four jobs to keep the kids fed and housed" as a prompt.
janetmiles From: janetmiles Date: November 6th, 2012 07:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ada Lovelace http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ada_lovelace .

Queen Isabella.

The lady-in-waiting who counsels the queen.

Geraldine Ferraro http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geraldine_Ferraro .

Michelle Obama.

Heck, I just realized Maryam Smith is a darned influential woman.

Anne McCaffrey.


"Behind every great man is a woman." If that's the case, who's behind the great women?

To run with jenny_evergreen's prompt, preschool and grade school teachers, and librarians, are overwhelmingly female and are very influential.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 6th, 2012 09:08 pm (UTC) (Link)


From your prompt about Michelle Obama, I got the free-verse poem "First and Foremost." It draws on her biography to reveal the source and direction of her leadership.

37 lines, Buy It Now = $15
marina_bonomi From: marina_bonomi Date: November 6th, 2012 07:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
A couple more I couldn't resist:

Rear-admiral Grace Hopper

Hedy Lamarr
mdlbear From: mdlbear Date: November 7th, 2012 06:20 am (UTC) (Link)
Heck yes!
janetmiles From: janetmiles Date: November 6th, 2012 07:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
The lady of the lake (Arthur legend)

The lady with the lamp (Florence Nightingale, IIRC)

The Statue of Liberty, and Emma Lazarus's poem
ellenmillion From: ellenmillion Date: November 6th, 2012 08:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
The 'original influence' - Eve

An influential woman in one of your fictional character's lives. (Fala's? Rai's?)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 6th, 2012 11:10 pm (UTC) (Link)


Both Eve and Lilith appear in "Her Infinite Faces." This free-verse poem explores different aspects of the divine feminine.

38 lines, Buy It Now = $15
lb_lee From: lb_lee Date: November 6th, 2012 08:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
I am torn between Emma Goldman and Rosie the Riveter.

And though I remain incredibroke, I will try to at least spread the word.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 7th, 2012 12:52 am (UTC) (Link)


When you link to the fishbowl, please make sure to comment about that so your verses can be revealed in the linkback perk poem:
siliconshaman From: siliconshaman Date: November 6th, 2012 08:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
I always thought Lilith got a raw deal...I wonder what became of her and her daughters. [aside from the obvious patriarchal propaganda.]

Pallas Athena finding and arming a rather different sort of hero, [or hera] after all, she's a Goddess of wisdom as well as war...and knowledge is power.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 6th, 2012 11:10 pm (UTC) (Link)


For Lilith, see above "Her Infinite Faces."
flutterbychild From: flutterbychild Date: November 6th, 2012 08:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
The most influential woman in my life was my grandmother, but I never was able to be completely honest about myself with her. I didn't come out as a bisexual until after her passing.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 6th, 2012 09:21 pm (UTC) (Link)


I took the idea of grandmothers and subtle connections of the revealed and the hidden, and wrote "Unspoken Influences." It's a free-verse poem about how grandmothers affect us whether they know things or not, are there or not, based on how they have touched our lives altogether.

30 lines, Buy It Now = $15
rowyn From: rowyn Date: November 6th, 2012 09:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
I would like a poem about the former god of evil trying to go not-evil. Perhaps there's some nice grandmotherly woman who can give him some pointer on that. n_n
siege From: siege Date: November 7th, 2012 12:55 am (UTC) (Link)
And then there's the mother of his child, not to mention a possible series of other lovers who might still be around, some of them more devoted than others.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 6th, 2012 09:39 pm (UTC) (Link)


kestrels_nest left a prompt about Hypatia of Alexandria. This inspired the free-verse poem "A Quiet Fame," about the subtle ways she influences girls even today.

32 lines, Buy It Now = $15

Edited at 2012-11-07 12:16 am (UTC)
kestrels_nest From: kestrels_nest Date: November 7th, 2012 01:45 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Poem

Just made the donation via PayPal. I hope that was the correct way to do it.
my_partner_doug From: my_partner_doug Date: November 6th, 2012 10:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
It occurs to me that "influential" does not necessarily equate to "good influence". Some of the women on the following list may well fall into that category, at least from some perspectives.

Twiggy; Kate Moss

Bessie Smith; Billie Holiday; Big Mama Thornton (her songs were covered by both Elvis and Janis Joplin)

Anne Rice - where would True Blood, Anita Blake, Twilight et al be without her?

Jenna Jameson

Doreen Valiente; Z. Budapest; Starhawk

Marion Zimmer Bradley

ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 6th, 2012 10:56 pm (UTC) (Link)


Based on Marion Zimmer Bradley and her legacy is the free-verse poem "The Lady of Fantasy." Its content is pieced together from many different author bios, editorials, and other tidbits that revealed her life between the covers of books and magazines.

36 lines, Buy It Now = $15
From: minor_architect Date: November 6th, 2012 11:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
Perhaps these women aren't highly influential but they are very interesting!

From history: Deborah Sampson, who dressed as a man to join the Continental Army in 1782. When her secret was finally discovered, she was given an honorable discharge and received her share of the pensions which were granted in 1805 to wounded American Revolutionary War soldiers.

From legend: Princess Mat Mat of what is now Vietnam, who supposedly devised a plan to defeat an Admiral of the Imperial Navy of Kublai Khan! (Here's a small blurb about her story.)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 7th, 2012 12:15 am (UTC) (Link)


The prompt on Deborah Sampson grew into "Sisters, Brothers, Soldiers." This free-verse poem tells of women through history who disguised themselves as men to join the military.

68 lines, Buy It Now = $34
siege From: siege Date: November 7th, 2012 12:34 am (UTC) (Link)
I read an article recently that suggested that the evolutionary innovation of grandmothers enabled humans to double our lifespan. Carers, teachers, elders, guides. You have at least one influential grandmother in your series (The Monster House); are there more?
siege From: siege Date: November 7th, 2012 12:41 am (UTC) (Link)
Also, I don't know how to link a Cheezburger image anymore, but there's one that caught my attention and made me think of your fishbowl. I wonder what it will make you think of? Cut-paper Buffalo
the_vulture From: the_vulture Date: November 7th, 2012 03:22 am (UTC) (Link)
Sensei Keiko Fukuda: Be Strong, Be Gentle, Be Beautiful

Edit: I still tear up a little when I watch the video footage and Fukuda Sensei describes the sacrifices she made for her art form.

Edited at 2012-11-07 03:27 am (UTC)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 7th, 2012 03:40 am (UTC) (Link)


The prompt about Sensei Keiko Fukuda inspired the free-verse poem "In Whose Strength Is Beauty." It details her life and accomplishments in Judo.

36 lines, Buy It Now = $15
the_vulture From: the_vulture Date: November 7th, 2012 03:30 am (UTC) (Link)
Also, there is Ana Mendieta, who had a profound spiritual influence on a number of people, including myself.
laffingkat From: laffingkat Date: November 7th, 2012 03:32 am (UTC) (Link)
Ayn Rand
Jane Austen
Mary Shelley
Joan of Arc
Queen Elizabeth I
Nzinga, Queen of Angola
Catherine the Great
Margaret Thatcher
Marietta Stow
Tonie Nathan
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 7th, 2012 06:22 am (UTC) (Link)


The prompt about Joan of Arc led to the free-verse poem "The Voyage to Vaucouleurs." It's the second in the series The Arc of Joan, set in nether-England like The Steamsmith but earlier in time. It even lays some background for Maryam's experiences. Anyhow, this poem tells how Jeanne d'Arc leaves home and deals with the hassle of people who just want to get in her way, before she can make progress.

Available after "Listening to God" is sponsored.
the_vulture From: the_vulture Date: November 7th, 2012 03:36 am (UTC) (Link)
And Wendy Pini!
laffingkat From: laffingkat Date: November 7th, 2012 05:48 am (UTC) (Link)
D'oh! Of course! I can't believe I didn't think of her--Elfquest was a huge influence on me!
laurarey From: laurarey Date: November 7th, 2012 03:58 am (UTC) (Link)
My mother just died on October 17. She was quite the trailblazer. Here is her obituary.


I donated $25. Thanks!
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 7th, 2012 04:33 am (UTC) (Link)


My condolences.

I've spliced in pieces of the obituary along with some imagery, so this is partly a found poem and partly an original elegy. I think it works.

60 lines, Buy It Now = $20
wyld_dandelyon From: wyld_dandelyon Date: November 7th, 2012 04:56 am (UTC) (Link)
Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, who they project just was elected Wisconsin's Senator as the first Wisconsin woman senator and the first openly gay person elected to the US Senate.

The 15-year-old girl who has been campaigning for Obama since she was 8, and is now seeing the man she worked to support win an election that likely means she will never get to vote for him.

Oprah Winfrey

Whoopie Goldberg (whose short-lived talk show was surprisingly good)

Suzette Haden Elgin

Ursula K. LeGuin

What would Queen Elizabeth have thought of your alternate world Alliance?
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 7th, 2012 07:10 am (UTC) (Link)


From your prompt about Suzette, I got "The Languagewoman," posted as the second freebie:
mdlbear From: mdlbear Date: November 7th, 2012 07:09 am (UTC) (Link)
Janis Ian
Joan Baez
Ronnie Gilbert
74 comments or Leave a comment
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