October 13th, 2009


Deciding How to Portion a Deer

After several hours of research and much thought, I have distilled my findings into a post about the cuts of venison and how a deer may be portioned. This includes a discussion of how to make good choices, and several differently focused combinations of cuts that could come off one deer.

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Poetry Fishbowl Open!

Starting now, the Poetry Fishbowl is open! 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.

The ISP connection seems to be running slow today, but I think it'll hold well enough.

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 (shapeshifters)." (Related horror motifs or non-horrific shapeshifters are acceptable tangents.) 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.

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. 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.

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 whose eddresses I already have. If you want to see the poem inspired by your prompt, give me your eddress; I recommend using {at} and {dot} to discourage spammers. 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.

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 (shapeshifters). I am especially looking for:

  • shapeshifters

  • hunters of shapeshifters

  • unusual vulnerabilities

  • specific cultural renditions

  • origin methods

  • transformative plot twists

  • places you'd expect to find shapeshifters

  • places you would NEVER expect to find a shifter

  • 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.
Fly Free

Poem: "Felis dendrophila"

This poem was prompted by wyld_dandelyon and it's the first freebie of the day. I got to wondering if dryads always take human form ... or have other options.

Felis dendrophila

I once had a cat
whose coat was the color
of leaves in autumn,
her fur flowing in
a dozen soft shades of orange and brown
almost as if
one of the maples had somehow shifted itself
into feline form.

Poem: "Medusa's Daughter"

This poem was inspired by a prompt from moosl. The "Abdominal Faces" photo reminded me of Medusa. Now that myth is full of some pretty horrifying patriarchal symbolism. So I turned it all on its ear, used some female imagery, and turned out a fairly disturbing poetic myth. It's written in ascending stanzas, each a line longer than the last.

Medusa’s Daughter

Medusa’s daughter was a complete surprise.

Medusa’s daughter was born
after a blind man found her mother’s cave.

Medusa’s daughter had the beak of a sea-eagle,
and a single snake arose from her brow
to wrap a hundred times around her head.

Medusa’s daughter sprouted a lapful of snakes
rooted in her womb when she became a woman,
each of them wearing a human mask
and each of them bearing a different power.

Medusa’s daughter ran back to the cave
when she heard her mother scream,
but she was too late to save Medusa.
When she got there, Perseus had already
hacked off the head and gone away.

Medusa’s daughter changed herself
into a sea-eagle and pecked Jupiter’s eyes out.
She changed herself into a snake, slithered
to the underworld throne, and bit Pluto on the thigh.
She changed herself into a fish, swam to Neptune,
swallowed him and vomited him up again.

Medusa’s daughter said to the gods:
“I can change more than any of you. Fear me.”
The gods said to Medusa’s daughter:
“We fear you. Go away.”
“Give me the Moon,” she said, and so they did.
“Hey, that’s mine!” whined Diana,
but no one cared.

Medusa’s daughter moved to the Moon.
Its pale dust was the color of her skin.
Its shadows were as sharp as her beak.
Its light was as cold as her eyes.
Its face was as scarred as her heart.
“I will wait for you here,” Medusa’s daughter said
to the mortal women in their dreams.
“Change. Grow. Fly.”

Poem: "ssessu"

This poem was prompted and sponsored by minor_architect. It's all about what a former shifter misses.


is the sound of skin shedding
and the emotion of the snake shedding the skin:

As a shifter, I have known
as many emotions
as I have skins, and many more.

mrau, the cats’ name for the moon,
is also the name of the mystical mood that comes with it –
I-am-contemplating-the-enigmas-of-the-universe-by-moonlight –
for to view the moon through the eyes of a cat
is to sense mysteries that reveal themselves only via that lens.

ffa … huu
is a word all shifters love,
the dolphins’ word for spouting after a long dive
and that feeling of release and refreshment,
and they use it for talking about relationships too,
which I think is why dolphin romances are such strange stories.

is the gleam of sunbeams weaving through the ultraviolet vanes
of a hummingbird’s feathers, not only during display but all the time,
and the boldness that goes with it, bright and rich and nimble:
In that word is a hummingbird’s whole awareness of the world
but in human form I can hardly recall what it was like
to be such a jewel falling through a jar of honey.

There is danger in the world
as well as beauty,
and those who love to take what others hold
do not care about the damage they do.

This is the rhythm of a horse’s hooves, cantering,
hakoka, hakoka, hakoka
and the bodyfeel of speed and the glee of it,

But I was not fast enough.
The skinhunters shot me down
and stripped the mystical skin from my body,
leaving me beached on my human bones
forever beyond reach of the tide.

Those emotions are lost to me now,
as surely as the shapes that gave them:
I can remember feeling them all,
but I can no longer feel them,
except for one.

I need to shed my skin,
but it won’t come off.
Snakes have a word for this, too,
the emotion of soul-itching-for-change-when-skin-is-stuck: