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

Starting now, the Poetry Fishbowl is open!  Today's theme is "elements and elemental spirits." (Western, eastern, scientific, or other sets of elements are welcome.  Western elemental spirits are most famous but others are fine too.) </span> </span>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.

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 "elements and elemental spirits." 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) 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.

3) 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. Details are here.  New photos of sample scrapbooked poems are here.

4) 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 there is at least one new prompter or donor, I will post an extra freebie poem.

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.

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.

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 "elements and elemental spirits."  I'll be soliciting ideas for elemental mages, elemental spirits, scientists, individual elements, systems or sets of elements, elemental spells or magic, elemental science, the history of elements, elements in the news, plot twists involving elements or spirits, elemental settings, 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.) The rest will go into my archive for magazine submission.

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Current Mood: creative creative

60 comments or Leave a comment
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moosl From: moosl Date: March 2nd, 2010 06:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: March 2nd, 2010 07:17 pm (UTC) (Link)


From this I got "The Elements of Life," a quirky description of a set of 5 elements inspired by some of these photos.

6 lines, Buy It Now = $5
ellenmillion From: ellenmillion Date: March 2nd, 2010 07:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
What kinds of elements has the Empire defined in Torn World?

A play on words: Ella meant

Inspiration as an atom, with high and low energy levels.

ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: March 2nd, 2010 07:37 pm (UTC) (Link)


When I thought about the Empire's list of elements, it picked up some things from moosl's list of photos. So I have "The Elements of Civilization," a non-rhyming poem with 10 syllables per line.

10 lines, Buy It Now = $5
technomage From: technomage Date: March 2nd, 2010 07:50 pm (UTC) (Link)

New here... be patient

I am earth, so what fascinates me is air. Directional winds (North Wind). Zephers. Willowwhisps. Thermals with Buzzards. Dustdevils. Tornados. Huricanes. Spring breezes.
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dianavilliers From: dianavilliers Date: March 2nd, 2010 07:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: March 2nd, 2010 08:44 pm (UTC) (Link)


From this I got the poem "This Hidden Light," written in two tercets with lines of ascending and then descending length. It's a poem for the conspiratorial pleasure of seeing something that few people will get to see.

6 lines, Buy It Now = $5
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: March 2nd, 2010 07:58 pm (UTC) (Link)


wcg directed my attention to this page:
The result is "Light and Wind and Fire," a poem written in rhymed, metered couplets about the formation of stars.

12 lines, Buy It Now = $10
wcg From: wcg Date: March 2nd, 2010 10:12 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Poem

siege From: siege Date: March 2nd, 2010 08:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
The elements of language as metaphor for existence: root verbs that aren't just cultural, but elemental. Energy flows. Matter is. Time processes (as in a procession). Living things do. Love fulfills. Change happens. Growing things become.

What happens when these elements become twisted in some way?
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: March 2nd, 2010 09:56 pm (UTC) (Link)


I combined "Growing things become" with jenny_evergreen's idea for a liquid species. The result is "The Elemental Symbiotes," a free verse poem about several bizarre plants and animals on the planet of Botannia.

34 lines, Buy It Now = $15
tonithegreat From: tonithegreat Date: March 2nd, 2010 08:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
Here's a photo prompt based on today's local stormy weather: http://twitpic.com/16986z !
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: March 3rd, 2010 12:28 am (UTC) (Link)


I am pretty sure that this went in a totally different direction than you intended! I saw that reflection in the upper left corner, and it looked to me like a door in the sky, and I was fascinated by how unreal and tenuous seemed the reflection of our world overlain on the forest. So here is a free verse poem, "The Door in the Sky," about the spirit of an Air elemental trapped in our world, until ... a door opens in the sky.

33 lines, Buy It Now = $15
(Deleted comment)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: March 2nd, 2010 10:09 pm (UTC) (Link)


I'm not finding that email. Try sending it again?
(Deleted comment)
jenny_evergreen From: jenny_evergreen Date: March 2nd, 2010 08:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
I have this fascination with mercury...I once thought about writing a story of a sentient species that spent most of its time as liquid. Then Star Trek came up with Odo. :P

Elementary elements, I like the play on words.

How do earth and air elementals interact?

Potential for an epic: combining the elements of the periodic table with the idea of elementals...bringing each one to life, so to speak.

ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: March 3rd, 2010 07:32 am (UTC) (Link)


I love the idea of a periodic table of elementals. I'm working on it. I have ... um, the framework and the first two verses, Hydrogen and Helium. (I had forgotten how insanely diverse the "periodic table" can be.) So this is not something I can finish in a day.
marina_bonomi From: marina_bonomi Date: March 2nd, 2010 09:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hmmm...Since a while I've started learning origami so, given that wood is an element in China and elements interact and combine in 'strange' ways here I am: Wood plus Water gives Paper, from which... origami magic
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: March 2nd, 2010 10:28 pm (UTC) (Link)


From this I got "folded wings," a poem using haiku as verses. It tells about the creations of an origami mage.

15 lines, Buy It Now = $10
From: siliconshaman Date: March 2nd, 2010 09:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm just going to throw these thoughts out, and see what sticks...

Classically there are 4 elements, air fire, water & earth and everything is composed of them, but the ancients forgot one.. Life or Spirit. Without which it's all just dead matter.

The elements nowadays are the states of matter:
What would be the fifth?

Of course there has to be a fifth element...because for every balancing act to work, you need a fulcrum, a pivotal point for those pairs, a mediator for the antagonistic couples...

However ...what about those elements that don't get mentioned too often? The orphaned elements if you like: The Element of Surprise, Elemental Evil & Good ... and The Element of Creation, from which everything came?

I wonder if the elements have Avatars, like the others, and if the Orphan elements feel resentful for being left out of the dance?

Edited at 2010-03-02 09:22 pm (UTC)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: March 2nd, 2010 10:36 pm (UTC) (Link)


From your prompt about the states of matter, I got the poem "The Transformation of Elements," which I will post as today's first freebie poem.
dreamwriteremmy From: dreamwriteremmy Date: March 2nd, 2010 11:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm particularly fond of 2 elements in the Japanese Buddhist-inspired tradition (Wikipedia) Kū meaning void, sky and heaven AND shiki meaning consciousness

Alternately, let's bring chemistry back to its roots and go with Alchemical Elements

ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: March 3rd, 2010 01:07 am (UTC) (Link)


I went looking for a two-part Japanese poetic form and found the katuata:
So "kū shiki" is a katuata, which asks the question, "Why is there a void?"

6 lines, Buy It Now = $5
stonetalker From: stonetalker Date: March 2nd, 2010 11:17 pm (UTC) (Link)

The Undiscovered Element

How about an elemental king who is getting rather irate that all the other elements and elemental kings are getting attention, yet no one even knows he's there?
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: March 3rd, 2010 12:46 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: The Undiscovered Element

I put this together with siliconshaman's prompt about orphans. The result is "The Orphaned Elements," a free verse poem about the elements we have forgotten ... and what they are going to do about that.

30 lines, Buy It Now = $15
flutterbychild From: flutterbychild Date: March 2nd, 2010 11:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
For some reason, this prompt made me think of calling the quarters and how the act of doing so helps me focus and brings me to the headspace to do ritual...
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: March 3rd, 2010 01:20 am (UTC) (Link)


I combined this with "language" prompts from siege and wyld_dandelyon to create "Casting the Circle of Words," which calls the quarters and cross-quarters of speech itself.

14 lines, Buy It Now = $10
wyld_dandelyon From: wyld_dandelyon Date: March 3rd, 2010 12:58 am (UTC) (Link)
There's a tradition where, instead of Earth, there is Metal and Wood.

I also like creatures of fire: Salamanders, dragons, soot sprites, firebirds

Gravity, mass, space, time, magnetism

And no one has mentioned the basic elements of language
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: March 3rd, 2010 02:32 am (UTC) (Link)


From your prompt about fire spirits, I got the poem "Firewheel," which I'm going to post as today's second freebie poem.
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