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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 to all the folks who dropped by this time.

Starting now, the Poetry Fishbowl is open!  Today's theme is "DNA, genetic engineering, and evolution." 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.

NOTE: LiveJournal is functioning poorly today.  I'm going to try running the fishbowl anyhow.  I'm also trying something new -- using other venues as auxiliary routes to get around the blockage.  So I'm also going to echo the "fishbowl open" post on Dreamwidth.  You can leave prompts on my Dreamwidth or Facebook pages.  If necessary, I may let the open period lap over into Wednesday.

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 "DNA, genetic engineering, and evolution." 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 "DNA, genetic engineering, and evolution."  I'm soliciting prompts for gengineers, genetic constructs, species in transition, tools for studying or manipulating genes, particular types of genes or traits, bits of evidence for evolution, genetic sciences in the news, how evolution impacts society, plot twists relying on genetic sciences, plot lines where evolution or genetic engineering cause problems, problems that can only be solved with genetic engineering, cultures that attempt to remain static, worlds where genetic engineering is commonplace, 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.

Tags: , , , , , , ,
Current Mood: creative creative

29 comments or Leave a comment
jenny_evergreen From: jenny_evergreen Date: September 7th, 2010 06:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
I've just started watching Stan Lee's Superhumans, in which a contortionist (the "world's most flexible man") seeks out people with superhuman abilities and does some TV-value testing on them, and the term "genetic mutation" comes up often. So I'm thinking maybe something about what kind of genetic anomalies cross that line from "normal human range" to "something else entirely", that sort of thing.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: September 7th, 2010 06:42 pm (UTC) (Link)


From "genetic mutation" I got the poem "The Lines We Draw." This rondeau uses its title as a refrain, exploring how we define humanity.

15 lines, Buy It Now = $10

Edited at 2010-09-07 06:56 pm (UTC)
the_vulture From: the_vulture Date: September 7th, 2010 06:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
Some months ago, I got involved in a surprisingly bitter debate about the merit of genetically altering certain species of mosquito so they were more resistant to malaria. As such, they would be less likely to carry it and, in theory, would spread this resistance throughout that mosquito gene pool.

The relevant post is here: http://community.livejournal.com/wtf_nature/476978.html

Given the track record of disasters involving introduced species (and, YES, I'm AWARE that this is not an 'introduced species' but still one so substantially modified that the difference is a matter of semantics) AND that we're dealing with a critical vector for not only malaria, but other diseases, some perhaps even unknown AND that the modifications could possibly alter the range of this disease vector for the worse, naturally I argued against the idea, and was shouted down for a 'knee jerk' response and refusing to trust the scientists who have more scientific training than I (like scientist don't ever frack up anything).

So anyways, yeah, tinkering with the mosquito and the possible results is the idea I'm putting forward.

Edited at 2010-09-07 06:47 pm (UTC)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: September 7th, 2010 07:08 pm (UTC) (Link)


From your prompt about tinkering with mosquitoes, I got the poem "The Things We Change." It explores the temptations and hazards of genetic engineering, along with the issues of whether and how to use what knowledge we have to change the world we inhabit. This is free verse written in tercets.

30 lines, Buy It Now = $15
ellenmillion From: ellenmillion Date: September 7th, 2010 06:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
The Torn World gene for time sensitivity comes to mind. :P

How would people evolve to suit space travel?

ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: September 7th, 2010 08:30 pm (UTC) (Link)


The "time sensitivity" prompt inspired a Torn World poem written in double-ballad form. "The Springs of Life and Time" uses the spiral shape of DNA and clock springs to connect the two topics, while exploring how the Ancients impacted their descendants.

12 lines, Buy It Now = $10
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: September 8th, 2010 12:15 am (UTC) (Link)


The prompt about evolution and space travel inspired "Those Who Go Between." This free-verse poem contrasts the colonists adapted for individual planets with the spacers adapted for star travel.

20 lines, Buy It Now = $10
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: September 7th, 2010 08:58 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: magazine article prompts

Based on the "locust brain" prompt, I wrote "Of Locusts and Plagues," which I'm going to post as today's freebie poem.
From: siliconshaman Date: September 7th, 2010 07:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
Suggested Prompt; "the silent genes speak"
[N.B silent genes are those archaic codes sequences no longer expressed.]

Edited at 2010-09-07 07:25 pm (UTC)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: September 7th, 2010 08:12 pm (UTC) (Link)


Your prompt became the title of a poem, "The Silent Genes Speak." It's a rondeau, using the same phrase as its refrain. This poem weaves together the past, present, and future through the medium of genes as they move into and out of expression.

15 lines, Buy It Now = $10
siege From: siege Date: September 7th, 2010 08:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
http://community.livejournal.com/otherkin/541197.html -- What nutritional needs would an engineered (or alien) body have, and could we supply them properly (in matter and spirit) without building a whole evolutionary sequence from scratch?

And http://scitechstory.com/2010/02/17/code-4-letter-codons/

This (number of codon letters) figures heavily in my own understanding of non-Earthly biology; 2 letters is not enough aminos for life via DNA and standard aminos, while 6 is so complex and hard to get going that it almost never happens (7 is not quite "right out" but you're approaching infinity the higher you go). So 3 letters is usually humanoid/Earth-similar (took a while to evolve, lots of compromises, minimum necessary limbs, usually harder to extract energy from the environment), 4 letters is usually draconoid/Zergite (if not winged then usually more limbs and more senses, easier to extract energy from environment and thus fewer evolutionary compromises, a variety of "more interesting" cellular and bodily properties), while 5 letters is generally tentacloid/Cthulhoid (lots of limbs, non-standard design which may not necessarily be vertebrate, either lots of energy or great variety and supply of resources). These also reflect how early sapient life is likely to evolve on a world (fewer letters means later evolution due to needs for life-generated resource/energy/amino buildup).
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: September 7th, 2010 09:20 pm (UTC) (Link)


From the article prompt about three-letter codons, I got the free-verse poem "Secret Codons," which explores both the creation of new proteins and the possibility of extrasolar life.

21 lines, Buy it Now = $10
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: September 7th, 2010 11:44 pm (UTC) (Link)


From your post about the nutritional needs of otherkin I got the poem "Soul Cravings." It explores the challenges of balancing what the spirit remembers with what the body can handle. It's free verse, written in five-line stanzas.

25 lines, Buy it Now = $10
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: September 8th, 2010 02:49 am (UTC) (Link)


From the prompt about the nutritional needs of engingeered bodies, I got "Heirs of the Heart." This free-verse poem explores the creation of new species and how the creator may have an idea of how they'll develop -- but can never fully know in advance.

28 lines, Buy It Now = $15
siege From: siege Date: September 8th, 2010 02:55 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Poem

Wow, three poems from one prompt! I'm impressed that it worked out that way.

I might even be able to spare some cash toward poetry this Friday, so huzzah for the poet!
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: September 8th, 2010 03:05 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Poem

>>Wow, three poems from one prompt! I'm impressed that it worked out that way.<<

Some prompts stick in my mind and refract along different paths. Also, LJ's fubar performance this morning has undercut participation, so I'm doubling back to a lot of the places where one person gave multiple prompts.

>>I might even be able to spare some cash toward poetry this Friday, so huzzah for the poet!<<

That would be awesome.
haikujaguar From: haikujaguar Date: September 7th, 2010 09:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
A favorite topic. I trade you art for art!

Gene Angel
Gene Angel

ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: September 7th, 2010 10:10 pm (UTC) (Link)


From the "Gene Angel" picture I got the free verse poem "Infinitesimal Angels," about the tiny guardians who defend against random mutation.

21 lines, Buy It Now = $10
eseme From: eseme Date: September 7th, 2010 10:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
We all have an appendix. It does not seem to do anything. We can remove it and be fine (indeed, it occasionally tries to explode). But we needed one once, and have evolved beyond it. I can't recall what scientists think it does, but one wonders if they are right, and if we really need it after all.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: September 7th, 2010 10:24 pm (UTC) (Link)


I checked to see if anyone had come up with a good explanation for the appendix's purpose yet -- and to my delight, here it is:
That explanation matches what data I have. So "Forethoughts and Afterthoughts" is a poem that explains what the appendix does, even though we often think of it as useless. This poem is written in free verse.

16 lines, Buy it Now = $10
janetmiles From: janetmiles Date: September 8th, 2010 02:01 am (UTC) (Link)
Gene therapy -- where do you draw the line? When does it become gengineering?

All cells carry all the same DNA, but each cell in the body is somehow triggered into becoming what it is. Except for stem cells, which can be anything.

Cloning -- if you do a bit of genetic manipulation to change the sex, is it still the same person?
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: September 8th, 2010 02:28 am (UTC) (Link)


From "gene therapy" I got the free-verse poem "The Difference Between." I also brought in selective breeding as a comparison. This poem explores where and how we draw the lines, and touches on the opposed dangers of stagnation and excess.

24 lines, Buy It Now = $10
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: September 8th, 2010 03:04 am (UTC) (Link)


From the prompt about DNA and stem cells, I got the free-verse poem "The Book Within." It uses writing as an extended metaphor for life science.

24 lines, Buy It Now = $10
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: September 8th, 2010 03:14 am (UTC) (Link)


I could not resist the temptation to take the "cloning" prompt and turn it into a cautionary tale about the probable result of parenting for the wrong reason. "Two Peas in a Pod" is a free-verse poem.

9 lines, Buy It Now = $5
marina_bonomi From: marina_bonomi Date: September 8th, 2010 06:40 am (UTC) (Link)
It this still open? :-) Years ago I wrote an article for EMGzine about the history of color red, there were some folk-sayings and traditions about red-haired people (mostly about them being somewhat 'different' or 'dangerous', even the sayings from Ireland) and the fairly recent news that, analizing a few different Neanderthal remains scientists had discoveed that those individuals were red-haired.

And so I wonder: what if red hair entered our gene pool from Neanderthal ancestors and as such, they *are* in fact a marker for someone 'different'?
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: September 8th, 2010 06:27 pm (UTC) (Link)


I found the redheaded Neanderthal prompt very exciting. "Crimson History" is a free-verse poem about the ancient struggle for survival and the marks it left on humanity. It also touches on some mythic references, and uses fire as a key metaphor.

25 lines, Buy It Now = $10
marina_bonomi From: marina_bonomi Date: September 8th, 2010 06:54 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Poem

Oooh, thank you, Elisabeth! Sponsored, of course. :-)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: September 9th, 2010 01:42 am (UTC) (Link)


Thanks to those of you who made an appearance this time.
29 comments or Leave a comment