March 2nd, 2010


Some of my food rules...

I have some dietary requirements.  So do most of the people I know, creating quite a wide variety of things that can't or shouldn't be served or eaten.  These are some of my food rules, which I have found to minimize digestive and emotional upsets:

1) It is a guest's responsibility to inform the host of any dietary requirements. An explanation is not required, but is helpful.

2) It is a host's responsibility to meet a guest's dietary needs, or say if it is not possible to do so.  Other arrangements may be made if necessary.

3) It is not okay to pester someone else about their dietary needs or choices.

4) Not every dish on the table has to be something that everyone can eat.

5) There must be enough food on the table, in varieties acceptable to the diners, that everyone will enjoy the meal and fill up on what is there.

One that is not a rule, but a gradually increasing tendency: As I get less and less pleased by commercial foods, I am slowly buying more things that are just raw ingredients to cook with.  It is a great deal easier to make things that are edible for everyone that way, and the taste and nutrition tend to be loads better too.  The main limitations to this trend are time and expense.  It takes more time to make things from scratch, although I'm finding some handy shortcuts.  Plus organic/grass-fed/free-range/etc. food tends to cost a lot more than factory junk.  Sometimes, though, the good stuff is cheaper.  I'm getting better at taking advantage of such bargains.

Poetry Fishbowl Open!

The March Poetry Fishbowl is now closed.  Thank you all for your enthusiasm.

Starting now, the Poetry Fishbowl is open!  Today's theme is "elements and elemental spirits." (Western, eastern, scientific, or other sets of elements are welcome.  Western elemental spirits are most famous but others are fine too.) </span> </span>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 "elements and elemental spirits." 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 "elements and elemental spirits."  I'll be soliciting ideas for elemental mages, elemental spirits, scientists, individual elements, systems or sets of elements, elemental spells or magic, elemental science, the history of elements, elements in the news, plot twists involving elements or spirits, elemental settings, 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: "The Transformation of Elements"

Today's first freebie poem was inspired by siliconshaman and concerns the relationship between mystical elements and states of matter, between matter and energy, and between ideas of the past and the present.

The Transformation of Elements

Matter and energy can be neither created nor destroyed,
only transformed.

When first our ancestors began to contemplate the elements,
they sorted the world into the four material elements, and one extra --
Earth, Water, Air, Fire, and Spirit.

In time we discovered that there are many elements,
which may exist in the four states of matter, and one extra --
Solid, Liquid, Gas, Plasma, and Energy.

These ideas are related, united,
held within the material of our bodies
and the dancing patterns of our minds.

Knowledge can be neither created nor destroyed,
only discovered or lost.


Poem: "The Attraction of Opposites"

This poem was inspired and sponsored by new fishbowl participant technomage.  The original prompt got me thinking about the tradition of "antagonistic elements" so this was the result.

The Attraction of Opposites

Air reaches for Earth,
a slim dark finger of cloud
touching down to stir the dust.

Earth reaches for Air,
rocks suddenly flying down slopes
to launch themselves into emptiness.

Fire reaches for Water,
lava bursting up through seams
into the waiting embrace of the ocean.

Water reaches for Fire,
diving from pure white clouds
into the upthrust arms of the forest fire.

Through the attraction of opposites
all the antagonistic elements
strive for common ground.


Poem: "This Hidden Light"

This poem was inspired and sponsored by dianavilliers, who sent as a prompt one of her daily photos.  (If you are not watching her blog, you are missing some magnificent photography.)  I love these glimpses of sights that few people get to see.

This Hidden Light

Like a velvet blanket
it unfolds itself across the sky,
all plush purples and fiery orange

spread above the earth's black skirt
sequined with silver cities
just before dawn.


Poem: "Light and Wind and Fire"

This poem was inspired and sponsored by wcg.  It's about star formation and the elements of space; I recommend this background material.

Light and Wind and Fire

Of these things the stars are made,
Shining in their vast parade:

Light that glimmers in the dark,
Kindled from a primal spark

Wind that blows the dust about,
Breathing ever out and out

Fire that beats back the cold,
Making elements of old.

Of these things the stars are born,
Bits of matter rent and torn --

Thus they make lifeforms as well,
Hearts and tongues their tales to tell.

Fly Free

Poem: "Firewheel"

Here is today's second freebie poem, courtesy of new prompter/donor technomage.  It was inspired by a prompt from wyld_dandelion.


Air of Fire:
firebirds flick their burning wings
against a black sky,
shedding feathers for heroes to find.

Fire of Fire:
dragons roar from their volcanic lairs
to bring forth the magma flows,
leaving gold and silver and gems.

Water of Fire:
salamanders slip from the ends of logs
disappearing like rain soaking into sand:
somewhere, down there, are the hot springs.

Earth of Fire:
soot sprites settle like velvet dust
pointing here, pointing there
to show what needs to be made pure.