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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 "folk tales."  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.

I'm trying out a new perk this time.  If donations total $150+ by Friday evening then I'll write an extra series poem after the Poetry Fishbowl, and post it for free.  Everyone will get to vote which series gets a new poem.  April donors will get some kind of input into the poem's content; I'm currently thinking I might ask them for prompts, but it could be something else.

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 "folk tales." 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. Commission details are here.  See latest photos of sample scrapbooked poems: "Sample Scrapbooked Poems 1-24-11"

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 you have room for it, including your own prompt will give your readers an idea of what the prompts should look like; ideally, update later to include the thumbnail of the poem I write, and a link to the poem if it gets published.  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.  While you're on the Donors list, you can view all of the custom-locked posts in that category.  Click the "donors" tag to read the archive of those.  I've also posted a list of other donor perks there.  I customarily leave donor names on the list for two months, so you'll get to see the perk-post from this month and next.

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.

5) If donations total $150+ by Friday evening then I'll write an extra series poem after the Poetry Fishbowl, and post it for free.  Everyone will get to vote which series gets a new poem.  April donors will get some kind of input into the poem's content; I'm currently planning to ask them for prompts, but it could be something else.

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 "Folk Tales."  

I'll be soliciting ideas for folk heroes, famous villains, legendary monsters, distinctive tools or weapons featured in folk tales, plot arcs or twists that are popular in folk tales, locations that often figure into folk tales, specific cultures and their folklore, the underlying meaning of folklore, how folklore affects people, 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

55 comments or Leave a comment
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aldersprig From: aldersprig Date: May 3rd, 2011 06:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
Folk Tales!!

The monster in the swamp

The old abandoned house down the street.

The "witch" that haunts the school.

The place where old folktales go to die, or to be reborn.

The urban myth of the normal family.

When fairy tales meet folk tales. I'm picturing three sons going adventuring on the bayou.

The migration of tales.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: May 3rd, 2011 06:46 pm (UTC) (Link)


Of course the urban myth about the normal family turned into a Monster House poem, "Until the Cows Come Home." There are many folk tales about beings that pretend to be human and seem perfect except for one carefully hidden flaw. When a new family moves into the neighborhood, things get interesting...

60 lines, Buy It Now = $20
siege From: siege Date: May 3rd, 2011 06:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
Different cultures keep their lore in different forms, often poetic, designed so the tale-teller or lore-keeper can remember the story better.

Why is there a monster under the bed? Why would we be so afraid of crevices we can't directly look into?

Are the shadows at night just shadows, as we're told? What about for Lost spirits?

What happens to a creature when its story changes due to cultural shifts? Does its whole past history fall into line, or is there a joining fork, or what? Who remembers when nobody else does?

Many creatures seem to be named for the ghosts of women who were murdered or committed suicide... and then wished to visit their pains upon others, or feed from them to sustain what existence they had left. Would this only apply to women, or was it just that women were more commonly wronged in this way?
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: May 3rd, 2011 08:33 pm (UTC) (Link)


The prompt about ghosts of murdered women led to "The Moon's Cool Blade." This free-verse poem hints why this motif appears in so many different cultures.

25 lines, Buy It Now = $10
the_vulture From: the_vulture Date: May 3rd, 2011 06:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
The classic comic book superhero as the modern recreation of the hero myths of old - 'nuff said.

(I bet you were expecting me to say something about Tricksters, weren't cha? :P )

Edited at 2011-05-03 06:14 pm (UTC)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: May 3rd, 2011 09:00 pm (UTC) (Link)


From your prompt about hero myths and comic books I got the free-verse poem "Supersized." The Muse gathers the heroes in the dressing room to update their look. Robin Hood, Hercules, and Diana are somewhat bemused by the new costumes...

31 lines, Buy It Now = $15
thesilentpoet From: thesilentpoet Date: May 3rd, 2011 06:14 pm (UTC) (Link)

An explanation for the crazy winter just passed

the monster under the bed

Will O' Whisps

A character study of Puck

Summer court vs. Winter court

the gods' favorite sport


Japanese folklore

Baba Yaga


(Have I mentioned this one of my favorite things?)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: May 3rd, 2011 09:23 pm (UTC) (Link)


I looked up Japanese folklore and was intrigued to discover that it has several genres each with a specific name. I've read enough that I can recognize at least some of these and their motifs. So here is an Origami Mage poem, "ongaeshibanashi," about "stories of repaying kindness." It's set very early when the girls are still in school learning their magic, and it hints that the school draws from a very wide range because they're all telling different kinds of folktales. Now if you know the genre, you know that some of those stories show the kindness repaid immediately while in others it merely plants a seed that will not blossom for a long time...

27 lines, Buy It Now = $15
From: idhren24 Date: May 3rd, 2011 06:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
The Brothers Joy (as opposed to Grimm)

Deconstructing/subverting traditional morals tales

As You Like It reimagined as a fairy tale

magic spectacles/computer


prophecies with bad puns
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: May 3rd, 2011 09:45 pm (UTC) (Link)


I love the idea of subverting morals. It reminds me of a favorite book, Once Upon a Time When the Princess Rescued the Prince, and some of the twists I've written on folk or fairy tales. So "Moral Traditions" is about the way that stories evolve along with our changing values. This poem is written in free verse.

44 lines, Buy It Now = $20
ellenmillion From: ellenmillion Date: May 3rd, 2011 06:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
I always think of 'old wives tales' when I think of folk tales. What about 'old husbands tales?'

ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: May 3rd, 2011 07:26 pm (UTC) (Link)


From this I got "Old Husbands' Tales" about the men of Mojeveterk. I've posted it as today's first freebie.
ladyqkat From: ladyqkat Date: May 3rd, 2011 07:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
A Changeling Child who isn't a changeling

A lost ghost looking for its haunt

What is really at the end of the rainbow? (or Why I love this icon)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: May 3rd, 2011 09:57 pm (UTC) (Link)


From the prompt about the rainbow's end I got the free-verse poem "Chasing the Rain." There are many folk tales about what can be found there. Mine involves a treasure less tangible and more precious.

18 lines, Buy It Now = $10
haikujaguar From: haikujaguar Date: May 3rd, 2011 07:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
I read somewhere someone transgendered who, after having the operation, claimed that the changeling child sent to replace him had been sent back to the Fae and left the child who was supposed to be.

I think you could do something beautiful with that, or other people who feel similarly alienated.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: May 3rd, 2011 10:13 pm (UTC) (Link)


Stories are how we handle the momentous changes in our lives, so I loved the idea of a transgendered person presenting their transition as part of the changeling cycle. "The Changeling's Return" is a free-verse poem of a son's speech to his father as he seeks his place in the mortal world.

38 lines, Buy It Now = $15
jenny_evergreen From: jenny_evergreen Date: May 3rd, 2011 07:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think the Monster House Grandma might have some awesome folk tales to tell!

Many folk tales are warnings about what happens to overly curious children...I'd like to see something that acknowledges that but also gives a novel solution, something better than "don't be curious"! How to be curious and NOT get dead, basically.

Another sort of tale that's good is a romance; the sort of thing for a couple to tell each other in the firelight after the children are in bed. Rhyming would make it easy to remember...
aldersprig From: aldersprig Date: May 3rd, 2011 08:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh! Something about haikujaguar's link from this morning:


That sort of library is almost a folktale in itself.

Carrying on from there... post-apoc folktales.
(Deleted comment)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: May 3rd, 2011 10:37 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: A Cherokee Myth

To the traditional Cherokee story of the water cannibals I added a thread about compassion. "The Hunters Among Us" is a free-verse poem about community ties and taking care of each other.

43 lines, Buy It Now = $20
janetmiles From: janetmiles Date: May 3rd, 2011 08:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
In many folk tales, things come in threes (one to set the pattern, two to confirm it, and three to break it -- e.g., the two oldest brothers are rude to the witch and end up pinned in trees but the youngest brother is polite and receives aid in his quest). What if the pattern were different?

Why is it always the youngest child who has the best manners? (Innocence of youth, maybe?)

True names come up in folk tales.

Murder ballads are a form of folk tale.

There's often some kind of recognition signal, such as Cinderella's shoe. What would a modern recognition signal look like?

Most folk tales come with or imply a moral. What do they look like from the "bad guys's" side? What would the moral be then?
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: May 4th, 2011 12:54 am (UTC) (Link)


I combined the reference to murder ballads with jenny_evergreen's prompt about romance, for the contrast between two of the most popular plots in folklore. The result is a ballad, "Folk Tales in 4/4 Time." Also, you totally want to visit this site archiving folk ballads with music:

24 lines, Buy It Now = $10
natasiakith From: natasiakith Date: May 3rd, 2011 10:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
folkways/tales associated with sewing. Quilts and needles come to mind, as well as the challenge of the fairy tale bride who has to create a shirt from raw fiber (ie., do every step from raw to finished)in a single day.
aldersprig From: aldersprig Date: May 4th, 2011 01:21 am (UTC) (Link)
*bounce* the myth that the Amish always put an intentional flaw in every quilt, so as to not aspire to godlike perfection?

I told this myth to a bride-to-be this weekend, as the flowers tipped into her bridal-shower cupcakes: something will go wrong, so there, now we've had our error. Now the rest of the wedding can be perfect.
meeksp From: meeksp Date: May 3rd, 2011 10:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'd like to see a meeting of characters from folktales of different cultures! Something like The Gathering, maybe?
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: May 4th, 2011 02:54 am (UTC) (Link)


I combined this with what idhren24 said about Dreamwidth. "Slashing Through the Undergrowth" is free verse about the forest primeval, cyberspace, and what folk heroes do when turned loose in the collective subconscious. This will be the other freebie posted today.
wyld_dandelyon From: wyld_dandelyon Date: May 4th, 2011 01:44 am (UTC) (Link)
The magic of a shiny stone to hold a relationship together.

The wedding cake under the pillow letting you dream of your future husband.

Or, on a different train of thought:

The four-leaf clover, the rabbit's foot, the coin found face-side up

Avoiding stepping on the crack, avoiding walking under the ladder, leaving the coin found the wrong side up behind

But what if you could turn that luck as easily as tossing a coin in the air?
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: May 4th, 2011 03:37 am (UTC) (Link)


From the shiny stone prompt I got "The Rock of Our Love," which talks about both symbolic and literal aspects of a relationship. It's written in unrhymed quatrains.

20 lines, Buy It Now = $10
eseme From: eseme Date: May 4th, 2011 01:56 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm kind of blanking today.

But because I am cold, I am thinking of warm, hot places. What about a folk tale from your Whispering Sands setting?

Also, I am sure your Italian hedge witch knows a few good tales...
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: May 4th, 2011 04:00 am (UTC) (Link)


Since you requested Whispering Sands, I looked up the rather sizable selection of folk monsters that I have in the vocabulary list. "The Whisperer" tells about a kind of wraith who speaks hateful words, raises jealousy, and incites people to acts of spite and rage. You can see how that's a problem in tight-knit cultures living in marginal territory, particularly when they tend to live in poly marriages or tent-families. It's a good cautionary tale.

20 lines, Buy It Now = $10
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