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The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
Poetry Fishbowl Open!
Starting now, the Poetry Fishbowl is open!  Today's theme is "fortunetelling, forecasts, and futures." (Fortunetelling predicts a person's future.  All types of divination are welcome.  Forecasts are predictions of future events or trends such as the weather, stock market, or fashions.  Futures are possible timelines branching from the present; people like to study the future and imagine different futures.) 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.

Notet that my web connection is being spitty again today; I hope it will hold through the fishbowl.

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 "fortunetelling, forecasts, and futures."  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 "fortunetelling, forecasts, and futures." I'll be soliciting ideas for fortunetellers, forecasters, fortune seekers, people who think fortunetelling/forecasting is hogwash, people flung into the future, divination tools, equipment for making forecasts, bizarre things about which forecasts could be made, sample fortunes told, plot twists involving predictions, turning points that affect the future, descriptions of various futures, places where fortunetelling happens, places you'd never expect to find a fortuneteller, 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

63 comments or Leave a comment
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jenny_evergreen From: jenny_evergreen Date: August 3rd, 2010 05:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
Been waiting for this one!

I'm an auspex. It's the word auspices comes from; it means someone who divines primarily using birds. It was later absorbed into the term "augur", which is about divining in general.

It's not a word often come by, but it was a dictionary word of the day a while back; one of my friends pointed me to it. I found it when researching my working name from my private name...turned out the private name was linked to my profession rather than the working name itself, which is Wren Starling, btw.

I've written my own bird oracle (not really a tarot deck, thus the different name, but the same idea); it's interesting to do research and incorporate that with one's "woowoo" instincts and find something that is unique and flows together in a way that actually feels right.

Hopefully, something in all that will inspire you. :)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 3rd, 2010 06:13 pm (UTC) (Link)


From this I got "Writing in the Sky," a free-verse poem with verses of five lines. It takes a look at the effect of extinction on augury.

20 lines, Buy It Now = $10
flutterbychild From: flutterbychild Date: August 3rd, 2010 05:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
My favorite tarot card is The Moon, specifically this image of the card, from my friend mythandwonder's "The Fellowship of the Fool" deck.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 3rd, 2010 06:40 pm (UTC) (Link)


From this I got "The moon is..." which I'm posting separately as today's freebie poem.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 3rd, 2010 05:44 pm (UTC) (Link)


marina_bonomi expects to be away from her computer today, so left me a batch of prompts. The first one was:

My first prompt is: 'reading the future in hens'scratchings in the dust'.

Well, my brain skipped over "hens" because I already have an example of reading the future from scratchings in the dust, and it's a desert thing. So I wound up with a Whispering Sands poem, "Piraan," that includes snippets of the language. The form is a khazal and the topic is awkward romance ... but if you read between the lines, you can figure out what the desert is trying to tell them.

14 lines, Buy It Now = $10
Oh, and that's counting only the couplets of the poem, not the two vocabulary entries pasted underneath it for clarity.

Edited at 2010-08-03 06:19 pm (UTC)
ellenmillion From: ellenmillion Date: August 3rd, 2010 06:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
It seemed appropriate to draw a tarot card for a prompt: King of Pentacles is what I got as I focused on the Fishbowl!

Can you write a poem in a tarot card layout?

Something with ravens as portents.

ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 3rd, 2010 07:56 pm (UTC) (Link)


From this I got "The Conscience of the King." The initial card made me think of the way businesses are not being very careful with resources. I spun that out into a Celtic Cross spread, using the Connolly Tarot for additional inspiration. So there are 10 verses of 5 lines each, crudely arranged in MS Word right now -- for best results, they'd need to be put online as virtual Tarot cards that could be "turned" to reveal the verse on the back. This poem was a lot of work to create, but I think the concept is really cool and I'm surprised by how neatly the pieces fit together with the theme.

Because of the elaborate form and extra effort required (and the fact that the formatting does weird things to the line count) I'm bumping this to custom pricing at $50.
From: minor_architect Date: August 3rd, 2010 07:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
From the "Odd Divination Techniques I've Never Heard Of Before" category:

"Divination by moles on the face or body is based on the belief that marks on the skin are the stars of the body and, like the stars in the firmament, they can reveal the secret of what is to come." Goes back at least as far as the 17th century. (From Man, Myth & Magic, 1995.)

"Pausanias [Greek travel writer of the 2nd century AD] also described the custom at the town of Pharai in Greece, where there was a statue of the god Hermes in the market-place. An enquirer with a question would go to the statue in the evening, burn incense and leave a coin on the altar and whisper his question into the statue's ear. He would then go away, keeping his hands pressed firmly over his ears to prevent his hearing anything until he was clear of the market-place. Then he would uncover his ears and take the first words he heard as the answer to his question." (Also from Man, Myth & Magic, 1995.)

Finally, just because it amuses me: "[T]he CIA admitted that for years it had been palming off fake astrological forecasts on the leaders of Asian and African governments, with the aim of influencing their policies in directions favourable to American interests." (From the same volume as above.)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 3rd, 2010 08:10 pm (UTC) (Link)


*laugh* Your "divination by moles" prompt made me think of burrowing animals rather than marks on the skin, so I put them together and imagined a form of divination using both! The result is eerie and yet reverent. "The Stars of the Skin" is written in free verse.

20 lines, Buy It Now = $10
janetmiles From: janetmiles Date: August 3rd, 2010 07:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, hell. I just found out -- or, I suppose, was reminded that I'd forgotten -- that Tom Deitz died last year. (I found this when I went to double-check the name of one of his books.)

Anyway, in Soulsmith, one of the ancillary characters does divination by music: the first songs on the PA system in the morning get mapped to the Celtic Cross tarot layout.

What other kinds of divination by music might there be?
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 3rd, 2010 08:21 pm (UTC) (Link)


From your prompt about divination with music, I got "What the Bards' Songs Say," using busker songs. And the interpretations don't precisely involve past, present, and future. This poem is free verse with stanzas of 5 lines each.

20 lines, Buy It Now = $10
valdary From: valdary Date: August 3rd, 2010 07:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
If you can't afford a crystal ball, how about a saucer of ink.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 3rd, 2010 08:32 pm (UTC) (Link)


I thought about who would use a crystal ball and who would use ink, and how that might influence the information available. "The Fisherman's Daughter" is a free-verse poem about a young diviner who uses humble materials ... but dreams of something grander. And no, it's not the ball.

20 lines, Buy It Now = $10
the_vulture From: the_vulture Date: August 3rd, 2010 08:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
How 'bout the 'Fortune Telling Fish' used as a serious method of prognostication? :)

(How many of you remember these as kids?: http://www.fortunetellerfish.com )
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 3rd, 2010 08:56 pm (UTC) (Link)


I remember that! "The Fortune Telling Fish" begins with a scientist doing a chaos experiment that goes awry, affecting the long-forgotten fish in his wallet. It gets weirder from there. This one is free verse.

40 lines, Buy It Now = $15
pocketnaomi From: pocketnaomi Date: August 3rd, 2010 08:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
Something about phrenology, perhaps?
pocketnaomi From: pocketnaomi Date: August 3rd, 2010 08:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
Or, for sheer silliness potential, about that octopus who predicted the World Cup games? :)
ladyqkat From: ladyqkat Date: August 3rd, 2010 08:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
My late sister is the one who led med to start on my spiritual path by introducing me to Edgar Cayce's material. She got very interested in casting horoscopes, while I found numerology more fascinating.

For curiosity's sake, we compared the numerology charts and the horoscope charts (both natal and projected) of some of our family and friends. What intrigued both of us was how both forms agreed with each other as to aspects of birth and possible future paths.

I sometimes wish I had more time to discuss things with her.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 3rd, 2010 09:34 pm (UTC) (Link)


The idea of different divination tools yielding similar results led me to the free-verse poem "Iterations of Insight." It explores how the universe creates subtle variations around a single guiding pattern.

12 lines, Buy It Now = $10
nhpeacenik From: nhpeacenik Date: August 3rd, 2010 08:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
I heard that Ted Serios, the mentally-disturbed man who could allegedly impress images of the present, past and alternate futures on polaroid film with his mind, "took a picture" of the moon Ganymede before it was photographed by a space-probe in reality. This talent certainly got Serios in trouble. Eventually whatever gave it to him came and took it back; his last photo was of curtains, meaning "It's curtains for me!" I wonder if the misadventures of a psychic photographer of the future might fit in somewhere?
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 3rd, 2010 09:57 pm (UTC) (Link)


I figured that any psychic photographer would probably attract unwelcome attention -- and be equipped to handle it, with a little ingenuity. "Telephoto Futures" is a free-verse poem about what happens when she spots her stalkers.

36 lines, Buy It Now = $15
unmutual From: unmutual Date: August 3rd, 2010 09:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
I had a friend who would read trees; she would stand in what felt like the right place and look up to see which way the branches crossed each other, then give a fortune based on that.

Around here, the trees flip their leaves upside-down when there's a storm coming.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 3rd, 2010 11:46 pm (UTC) (Link)


The prompt about reading trees and the crossings of their branches reminded me of a scene sketch that I wrote long ago, in which one of my desert characters ventured into the Northern continent. Like the desert -- but unlike most other places -- that land is literate. It doesn't use the same script, though. "The Shadow Staves" is a free-verse poem about wandering through a strange land and stumbling over things that are almost familiar, with finely honed instincts that are all out of tune for where you are at the time.

38 lines, Buy It Now = $15
beetiger From: beetiger Date: August 3rd, 2010 09:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'd like to hear something about the relationship between weather prognosticators (meteorologists) and weather-workers.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 4th, 2010 12:22 am (UTC) (Link)


This prompt wound up inspiring two characters, a weatherman and a weatherwitch. They don't get along at first, but it gets better from there, and they have some common ground in their concern about the climate. "Whethering the Storm" is free verse. (That's not a typo.)

51 lines, Buy It Now = $20
jolantru From: jolantru Date: August 3rd, 2010 10:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
Knuckle bones. Bone divination. :)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 4th, 2010 12:43 am (UTC) (Link)


This prompt led to the poem "Knucklebones," which is free verse in quatrains. It takes a glimpse at history and hints why the bones are -- or were -- able to divine the future.

16 lines, Buy It Now = $10
eseme From: eseme Date: August 4th, 2010 12:28 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, since weather predictions have been mentioned (I have been watching the weather more than usual these days)...

What about divining through food? There is a definite school of thought that says that if you crave a certain food, it is because your body needs it. I think it would be cool to know what my body would need two or three days down the road, as that is how long it can take nutrients to get into the bloodstream (or at least that's what the Red Cross lady told me when she was advising me on how to raise my iron levels so I will be able to donate next time)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 4th, 2010 12:54 am (UTC) (Link)


This prompt about divining through food reminded me of kinesiology, which is used to determine what foods to eat. "This Divine Form" is about using your own body as a divinatory tool to discover what it needs.

20 lines, Buy It Now = $10
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