October 8th, 2010


Poetry Work

Today I sent out batches of poetry to Asimov's Science Fiction and Fact, Strange Horizons, Dreams and Nightmares, The Lorelei Signal, and Burning Tree Press.  I also got the donor perk-post written and more fishbowl poetry posted.  I hope to do the fishbowl report tomorrow.

List of Unsold Poems from the October 5, 2010 Poetry Fishbowl

The following poems from the October 5, 2010 Poetry fishbowl are currently available. They may be sponsored via PayPal, or you can write to me and discuss other methods.

"Bittersweet Centers" -- 13 lines, $10
The "chocolate box" metaphor stuck in my mind, so I extended it into the free-verse poem "Bittersweet Centers." This one explores a psychic vampire's experience of humanity in all its flavors.

"Death and Marriage" -- 20 lines, $10 SOLD
Comparing mythic to movie images of vampires, I got the free-verse poem "Death and Marriage." Power isn't always just in the obvious places. The humor is kind of dark and edgy, but I think it works.

"Eating Disordered" -- 38 lines, $15
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.

"Halfway to Eternity" -- 20 lines, $10 SOLD
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.

"La Silbadora" -- 20 lines, $10
The animated GIF reminded me of a similar picture I once saw, which noted that the woman "had learned to whistle in an eerie way through her affliction." So that reminded me of Silbo Gomero, the whistled language. The result is "La Silbadora," a poem about a woman who is cast from her village to become a vampire. (Exile sometimes appears on the list of vampiric origins.) The poem includes several words of Spanish, as it's set in the Canary Islands. I really had fun filling in the local color here.

"Sun's Foe and Moon's Friend" -- 20 lines, $10
From "embracing the night" I got the poem "Sun's Foe and Moon's Friend," which is written in unrhymed quintains. For some vampires, the change is not so much a transformation as a confirmation.

"The Vampire Funeral" -- 39 lines, $15
From the "Cemetery" prompt I got the free-verse poem "The Vampire Funeral." The scene was so sad, I wondered what it would be like if vampires were pacifists instead of monsters. They'd have a hard time surviving in this poor old world.

"What the Forest Takes" -- 48 lines, $20
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.

Poetry Fishbowl Report for Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The theme this month was "Horror: Vampires."  A handful of prompts arrived early on, and a few more later, but it was a slow day for prompting -- a lot of my regulars missed for various reasons.  (I hope everyone's life is settling into something more comfortable.)  I worked from 1 PM to 1 AM, so about 10 hours accounting for breaks.

I wrote 18 poems.  They were almost all medium, only one each of short and long, no epics.  All were based on single prompts, though I did pull in some outside inspiration in a few cases.  Most were free verse, but I did get a few repeating/interlocking forms as well. Randomly of interest: several of the titles are questions, and the tones included a lot of horror-mixed-with-something-else. Please welcome new prompters alycewilson and paradigmshifty -- you have them to thank for the second freebie poem.

Read Some Poetry!
The following poems from the October 2010 Poetry Fishbowl have been posted:

"Afflictions of Blood and Flesh"
"bowls of rice" -- an Origami Mage poem
"Can She Bake a Scary Pie?"
"Death and Marriage"
"Halfway to Eternity"
"Mutant Fruit"
"The Scent of Desire"
"This Curséd Gift"
"The Vampire Frogs"
"What Scares the Monsters?"
"Who Monsters the Monsters?"
"The Wind Eaters"

* Additionally, there are six new verses of "RUT?" posted.

Buy Some Poetry!
If you plan to sponsor some poetry but haven't made up your mind yet, read the list of unsold poems from October. That includes the title, length, price, and the original thumbnail description for the poems still available.

All of the sponsored poems have been posted.  Copies of the rest have been sent backchannel to their sponsors.  The donor perk-post is online, featuring a discussion of cultures in literature.  There is no poll this month, as all the contributions were sponsorships rather than general donations.

Donors for October include: ellenmillion, miintikwa, ladyqkat, minor_architect, marina_bonomi, janetmiles, and alycewilson.  Huzzah for new prompter alycewilson! Thank you all for your support.

Let's talk about prompts...
The last couple of fishbowls have run a bit slow, although I got some good poems out of them.  Based on some things I've heard from various people over time, I'm going to offer some thoughts on how to revive participation.  If you folks can think of anything else, please let me know.

1) If you are a regular prompter or, especially, a donor -- don't miss the fishbowl just because of a scheduling conflict.  You may give me your prompt(s) early if you expect to be away from your computer while the fishbowl is open.  I tell people "wait for the open-post" so I don't have to chase comments all over the net, but I'd rather make a note in my datebook than miss one of my regulars.  Regular participants get this option as a perk.

2) It's okay to give me more than one prompt at a time.  If the traffic is heavy that day, I may only use one per person.  On a slow day, though, it's the extra prompts that keep me going, because I can double back to those.

3) If you aren't particularly familiar with or fascinated by the theme, or you're blank out of ideas for some other reason, there are backup options.  You can check my post for links, because I often give explanatory pointers for the less-obvious topics.  You can type the theme phrase into your favorite search engine.  You can browse the prompts by other participants, and the poems as they go up, and if you comment on those then I might nab what you said as a prompt.  You can also recommend a poetic form, which is a type of prompt always  welcome.

The Poetry Fishbowl project also has a permanent landing page.

Science and Poetry

I was intrigued by this article, discussing the mathematics of rhymed and metered poetry

However, I wish to point out to those who think that free verse is "playing tennis with the net down" -- it isn't.  It's just relying on subtler tricks of linguistics.  That's why some free-verse poetry works, and some is just prose with artificially added line breaks.  In free verse, the line breaks have meaning; either they support the natural pauses or they create tension by breaking in unexpected places.  Breaking in the wrong place makes the reader stumble over the ends of the lines.  Empty space, such as stanza breaks or indentations, is also used to shape a poem.  Free verse may use additional techniques such as alliteration, parallels, sense imagery, allusion, and repetition to intensify the impact.  The main difference between poetry and prose is that poetry is distilled -- it delivers its message in a very small, compact package compared to casual expanse of prose.

The scientific aspects of free-verse poetry may be less obvious than those of metrical verse, but they are still present, and they can be identified with close examination.  Go ahead, dig into some free-verse poems and see what kinds of poetic techniques you can spot there.  Use my poems if you wish, or explore some famous free-verse poems.

Poem: "Halfway to Eternity"

This poem came from the October 5, 2010 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired and sponsored by alycewilson.  Usually vampires are depicted as transformed humans; the prompt here asked for vampires that came from somewhere else. 

Halfway to Eternity

What they promise you,
whispering in the silky night
before they prick your throat
with their long white fangs,
is that you will live forever.

What they hide from you,
until your body's truth
drowns out their sweet lies,
is that vampires can only
stop Death, not Time.

Perhaps it is not entirely
their fault -- they are visitors
in this dimension, and Entropy
is a stranger to them. They forget
what it can do to natives here.

What you teach to them,
slowly, painfully, over centuries,
as your body withers to leather
is that eternal life is useless
without eternal youth.


Poem: "Death and Marriage"

This poem came out of the October 5, 2010 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired and prompted by alycewilson.  The italicized quote at the top is a traditional piece of advice.

Death and Marriage

Before marriage, keep both eyes open.
After marriage, shut one.

Vampires in the movies are glamorous creatures:
tall, dark, and handsome
fabulously wealthy with mansions and castles
their sexuality spiked with animal magnetism.

Vampires in the myths are monstrous creatures:
looming over helpless victims with an ugly leer
dwelling in ruins and dressing in rags
their iron grip indifferent to screams or stuggles.

But let me tell you, girls, there's nothing new in that.
Vampires are just like any other men.
They have their good side and their bad side,
and they'll show you whichever it takes to get what they want.

Oh sure, you may be on the meat market, but remember:
you have what they want, and that gives you power.
Use it wisely.  Make your choices.  Never look back.
For even the creatures of the night fear a woman's laughter.

Before death, keep both eyes open.
After death, shut one.