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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 "opposites."  </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 "opposites." 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 "opposites."  I'll be soliciting ideas for odd couples, fish out of water, alignment flips, polarized artifacts, hairpin plot twists, moral dilemmas, abstract dualities, settings that incorporate opposed features, 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

47 comments or Leave a comment
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janetmiles From: janetmiles Date: June 1st, 2010 05:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hm. In a recent meeting, the CIO stated that the opposite of "critical thinking" (good) is "clerical thinking" (bad).

Odd couples: Day shift and night shift.

Not sure if this is really an alignment flip, but how does a true neutral escape "analysis paralysis" and ever decide what to do?

The obvious (to a semi-old school media fan like myself) abstract duality: Logic vs. emotion.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: June 1st, 2010 05:33 pm (UTC) (Link)


From your "true neutral" prompt, I got a very thoughtful poem written in free-verse quatrains. "The Flashpoint of Analysis" explores the thought process of a neutral character. It's not paralysis: it is patience.

20 lines, Buy It Now = $10
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: June 1st, 2010 05:18 pm (UTC) (Link)


Elsewhere siege left the prompt "Feesh. And hawk."

From this I got the free-verse poem "Assumptions of Precedence," about some scientists attempting to introduce hawks to an alien planet as part of the terraforming process.

25 lines, Buy It Now = $10
ellenmillion From: ellenmillion Date: June 1st, 2010 05:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
David and Goliath

Love and hate apathy

A pacifist in conversation with a military figure
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: June 1st, 2010 06:18 pm (UTC) (Link)


The "love and apathy" prompt led to a rather creepy poem about Cupid hunting down uncaring people and shooting them with the arrows of indifference. "Owl Feathers and Lead" is a free-verse poem.

58 lines, Buy It Now = $20
marina_bonomi From: marina_bonomi Date: June 1st, 2010 05:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
Cat and dog

Yin and Yang

Black and white in chess (the ancient color dichotomy was often red and black though)

matter and antimatter

sub-atomic physics vs. 'macro' physics

weddings and funerals (which brings to mind Goran Bregovic's 'Wedding and Funeral Band'

People of the mountains /people of the plains

Nomadic vs. stantial

Alphabet vs. ideographic writing

And I think I'll stop here...
jenny_evergreen From: jenny_evergreen Date: June 1st, 2010 06:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
Speaking as a person of the plains who had always taken it for granted, I discovered that being in hilly/mountainous country was quite unsettling as an adult, I felt closed in and it confused me to not have the horizon as a reliable point of reference. I almost got dizzy a few times!
the_vulture From: the_vulture Date: June 1st, 2010 05:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
What one does to maintain life can be contrary to what one needs to maintain living.
moosl From: moosl Date: June 1st, 2010 05:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: June 1st, 2010 07:30 pm (UTC) (Link)


From "spots and stripes" I got a poem about camouflage effects in animal species. "Patterns of Effect" is written in free-verse couplets.

14 lines, Buy It Now = $10
the_vulture From: the_vulture Date: June 1st, 2010 05:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ooo! And Chinese elements! Fire, Earth, Metal, Water, Wood

The blaze of the furnace melts the metal.
The metal axe splits the wood.
The roots of the tree overturn the stones.
The stone bridge crosses over the river.
The water douses the flame.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: June 1st, 2010 07:45 pm (UTC) (Link)


I happened to be researching Aikido last night for a story, and the the "Chinese elements" prompts stuck to those thoughts about removing the violent energy from a fight. Suddenly the destructive cycle made a lot more sense as something with practical uses. This led to the poem "Diminishing Cycles," written in free-verse couplets.

Since this is your first time as a prompter, I'm going to post this poem as today's extra freebie.
jenny_evergreen From: jenny_evergreen Date: June 1st, 2010 06:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
Much is heard about fire and water, but less so about earth and air.

Sedentary and active (opposites that feature strongly in my own life!)
Alternatively (but related), thinker and doer.

Maybe sentient non-mammals and sentient mammals.

Sowing and reaping.

Maybe a dragon contemplating the qualities of skin and bone in a gastronomic sense...:)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: June 1st, 2010 11:23 pm (UTC) (Link)


From the "dragon" prompt I got a humorous free-verse poem "Dragon Candy," in which an armored knight unwisely attacks a pair of dragonets.

24 lines, Buy It Now = $10
From: minor_architect Date: June 1st, 2010 07:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
Intelligence vs. insanity (which depends on your perception)

Or in a lighter vein, how about those who view cooking as an art vs. those who view it as a science vs. those who view it as a skill? (Vs. those who just want to eat! ;)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: June 1st, 2010 08:21 pm (UTC) (Link)


From the prompt about science vs. skill I got "The Composition of Cooking." This free-verse poem explores the different aspects of cooking to create a multi-dimensional image of the process.

26 lines, Buy It Now = $15
allykat From: allykat Date: June 1st, 2010 08:30 pm (UTC) (Link)

Only have 1 today

Spiritual and mundane.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: June 1st, 2010 09:32 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Only have 1 today

I combined your "spiritual/mundane" with "male/female" and "physical/spirit" from shadowsculptor. The result is "Manifold Humanity," a free-verse poem exploring some of the opposites and complements that we encounter as spiritual beings having a human experience.

47 lines, Buy It Now = $20
shadowsculptor From: shadowsculptor Date: June 1st, 2010 08:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
Some thoughts:

Male/female (anima/animus?)


Nature/"progress" (architecture, metal and concrete, etc)

ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: June 1st, 2010 09:33 pm (UTC) (Link)


I mixed your prompts with one from allykat so look for the full description under her comment.
valdary From: valdary Date: June 1st, 2010 10:01 pm (UTC) (Link)



ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: June 1st, 2010 11:01 pm (UTC) (Link)


From "laughter/pomposity" I got "The Bard's Magic Arrow," which I'll post as today's freebie poem.
eseme From: eseme Date: June 1st, 2010 10:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
I looked for the Fishbowl this morning, and missed it. If I am too late, that's all right.

I do like dog/cat or cat/mouse.

I also like the dichotomy of loud/quiet.

And since I have been on a never-ending quest to finish spring cleaning, there is dirty/clean.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: June 1st, 2010 11:46 pm (UTC) (Link)


From "loud/quiet" I got the poem "Sound and Silence," about the nature of noise and noiselessness. It is written in free-verse couplets.

10 lines, Buy It Now = $5
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: June 2nd, 2010 01:14 am (UTC) (Link)

Winding Down?

It's been a while since any new prompts came in, and I've done at least one by everybody. If I don't get any more prompts in the next hour or so, I'm going to close early tonight.
wyld_dandelyon From: wyld_dandelyon Date: June 2nd, 2010 01:39 am (UTC) (Link)
Purple and Yellow

Immanent and Transcendant

Liminal and Central

Noise and Meaning
wyld_dandelyon From: wyld_dandelyon Date: June 2nd, 2010 01:43 am (UTC) (Link)
P.S. If you're tired, that's all right.
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