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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 "Horror: Vampires." 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 "Horror: Vampires." 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 "Horror: Vampires."  I'm soliciting prompts for vampires (all kinds), vampire hunters, items used to kill or repel vampires, bits of vampiric lore/mythology, cliches that can be twisted, classic or neo vampire plots, weird surprises for a horror plot, settings where vampires are openly recognized, settings where vampires are hidden, places you'd never expect to find a vampire, and poetic forms in particular.  What counts as a 'vampire' for this purpose?  Pretty much anything that feeds on human energy or resources, though some feed on other things; the global definition is very broad.  If you're lost, try searching "vampires world myths" or something like that.  I'm also flexible on 'horror' as the tone; if you want another tone, that's cool.

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
From: minor_architect Date: October 5th, 2010 06:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
Just recently, I came across this disturbing bit of vampire lore:

"It is held to be imperative that the vampire should be traced to his lair and destroyed at the very first opportunity. If he is sufficiently cunning to avoid detection so long at the end of seven years he will become a man again, and then he will be able to pass into another country, or at any rate to a new district, where another language is spoken. He will marry and have children, and these after they die will all go to swell the vampire host." (Montague Summers, The Vampire In Europe)

And I thought, How terrible is that? Fated to become a vampire after death, without hope of redemption!

Talk about the sins of the fathers becoming the sins of the sons...!
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: October 5th, 2010 06:51 pm (UTC) (Link)


I was instantly struck by the realization that this form of vampirism is essentially a contagious disease that transforms into a genetic disease. It sparked a very different take on vampire hunting, and it touches on the painful topic of personal eugenics -- the decisions people make about whether or not to risk passing on a genetic disease. The result is "Afflictions of Blood and Flesh," a free verse poem in the tone of horror-tragedy.

38 lines, Buy It Now = $15
janetmiles From: janetmiles Date: October 5th, 2010 06:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
I can't find my copy of the book, so this is going to be vague. In one of Mercedes Lackey's Diana Tregarde books, I think in Children of the Night, Andre refers to a Japanese kind of vampire-ish entity that may have a variety of needs, including one type that feeds on pleasant scents (perfume, incense, that sort of thing).

I'm thinking these probably aren't very horror-ish, though.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: October 5th, 2010 06:54 pm (UTC) (Link)


That's a gaki. I've written about the perfume version before. I'm mulling over this ... might try finding a horrific version of perfume feeders, or might pull up some other version like the soul feeders instead. Let it simmer for a bit, don't worry, it'll come out fine when it's done.
moosl From: moosl Date: October 5th, 2010 06:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
Here's a few visual prompts. They're mostly vampiric.

Vampiric Wolverine
Frog-like Animal
Political Poster
Animated GIF
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: October 5th, 2010 07:07 pm (UTC) (Link)


When I read the "Vampiric Wolverine" prompt, I thought about the furry kind, not the spandex kind. The result is "What the Forest Takes," an environmental horror poem done in free verse. Those who attempt to exit and then demolish the food web may be returned to it with extreme prejudice.

48 lines, Buy It Now = $20
ladyqkat From: ladyqkat Date: October 5th, 2010 06:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
I have been thinking about this for the last few days, think how to phrase the idea and then in one of the posts you did yesterday, you (and ravan) spelled it out - energy vampires.

But not only those who feed on the energy released by negative emotions, but those who feed on any high emotion - performers who feed off the energy of an audience, people who hang around crashes feeding off the fear people project when the look at the mangled mess and realize 'it could have been me', people who live in areas prone to 'natural' disasters waiting for the emotional turmoil released when a tornado or earthquake occurs, those who engender wars to feed off the fear and chaos such brings.

So many different types of emotional energy and so many different ways to experience them. Rather like having access to a chocolate box of endless variety.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: October 5th, 2010 07:39 pm (UTC) (Link)


From the many variations of energy vampire, I got the poem "This Cursed Gift." It's a villanelle whose verses explore how such vampirism can manifest; it can't be undone, but only channeled into particular expressions. There are hints of positive uses, but they're subtle -- the prevailing flavor is angst.

19 lines, Buy It Now = $10
miintikwa From: miintikwa Date: October 5th, 2010 07:17 pm (UTC) (Link)


becoming a monster (a vampire who turns even more monstrous!)

Embracing the night (A vampire who loves living in the darkness)

What scares the monsters?
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: October 5th, 2010 08:28 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Prompts!

Your third prompt became the title of a free verse poem, "What Scares the Monsters?" Three different monsters reveal their fears, different in detail but the same underneath.

34 lines, Buy It Now = $15
siege From: siege Date: October 5th, 2010 08:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
What if a vampire finds themselves unable to feed? Perhaps they try, and gain no sustenance from it... what then?
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: October 5th, 2010 09:07 pm (UTC) (Link)


This prompt reminded me of eating disorders, and I got to wondering what would happen to a vampire that bit a victim with such a condition. "Eating Disordered" is a free-verse poem with a desperately creepy tone.

38 lines, Buy It Now = $15
alycewilson From: alycewilson Date: October 5th, 2010 10:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
I've got two ideas:

1) This one is borrowed from "The Hunger" by Whitley Streiber. I'm fascinated by the idea that a true vampire is another kind of being altogether, and that while they can bestow immortality on someone, they cannot keep them young forever. Thus, in the movie version, Catherine DeNeuvre (sp?) has an attic full of coffins creating the skeletal, but still living, bodies of her human lovers.

2) A humorous poem about glamorous movie images of vampires compared to the terrifying mythical version of the vampire.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: October 5th, 2010 11:53 pm (UTC) (Link)


From the idea of vampires bestowing immortality but not youth, I got the free-verse poem "Halfway to Eternity." Coming from another dimension, they don't really understand Entropy.

20 lines, Buy It Now = $10
eseme From: eseme Date: October 5th, 2010 11:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
Possibly my mind is fixated on food. However, I recall that tomatoes were seen as the devil's fruit, while garlic repels vampires. One wonders if that's why we need garlic in pizza.

I wonder what other anti-vampire foods there are? Pratchett did something with watermelon, I think... while in Ursula Vernon's comic Digger, there are vampire squash (they have fangs, it's kinda cute).
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: October 6th, 2010 12:19 am (UTC) (Link)


The prompt about tomatoes and garlic inspired "Can She Bake a Scary Pie?" in which Fiorenza discovers how to get rid of a vampire infestation. This poem is free verse and draws upon Italian culture.

34 lines, Buy It Now = $15
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: October 6th, 2010 03:03 am (UTC) (Link)


paradigmshifty said something elsewhere that I took as a prompt.

It takes sterner stuff to frighten adults than children, and even monsters may fear their own teachers. "Who Monsters the Monsters?" is a rondine about growing up ... and the bigger fears that come with it. If you're a parent, this one will probably make you shiver.

12 lines, Buy It Now = $10
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: October 6th, 2010 06:04 am (UTC) (Link)

Done for the night!

Okay, I've worked through everyone's prompts and doubled back for a lot of the multiples. I am finished now. Night, all.
the_vulture From: the_vulture Date: October 6th, 2010 08:16 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Done for the night!

Oh dern it! I actually had an idea for this one, but I've spent most of this week too ill to pay attention to much. Alas...
wyld_dandelyon From: wyld_dandelyon Date: October 6th, 2010 07:02 am (UTC) (Link)
Sorry I missed it!

But it sounds like you got a lot of good poetry without me.

47 comments or Leave a comment