January 4th, 2011


Poetry Fishbowl Open!

Starting now, the Poetry Fishbowl is open!  Today's theme is "Urban Fantasy" as selected by the audience in a poll.  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.

Something new: Batched poems.  Previously I've written some poems that use the same characters or setting to explore different aspects of the same idea, most of them at random.  I'm open to doing that on purpose, if it doesn't create an overload.  So for instance, you might ask for a pair of poems showing two people's divergent viewpoints, or ask for a sequel to a poem you liked.

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 "Urban Fantasy." 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 new photos of sample scrapbooked poems: "Infinitesimal Angels and others"

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.

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 "Urban Fantasy."  (You can read more about urban fantasy online.  It does not have to be contemporary; past or future city prompts are welcome.  While most urban fantasy entails slight revisions of Earth, I'm also open to prompts about cities in other fantasy settings of mine.)  I'll be soliciting ideas for urbanites, non-urbanite fish-out-of-water characters, city-dwelling monsters, urban plants and animals, objects commonly found in cities, rural objects that might be amusing to chuck into a city, urban fantasy cliches you'd like to warp, classic or neo urban fantasy plots, events that happen in cities, urban legends, urban places fun to include in a fantasy story, individual cities you'd like to visit, unusual locations within a city, hazards or benefits particular to cities, 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: "Stonewings"

Inspired by kelkyag's request for gargoyles, this is today's first freebie poem.  No matter how much of a badass you think you are, somewhere out there is a predator who considers you defenseless prey.

-- a triolet

Gargoyles guard the city streets,
Silent hunters from above.
Final foe the mugger meets,
Gargoyles guard the city streets.
Down one swoops with swift wingbeats,
Hawk on unsuspecting dove.
Gargoyles guard the city streets,
Silent hunters from above.


Poem: "Suburban Bogeymen"

This poem was inspired and sponsored by aldersprig.  It's a creepy little piece about how magical creatures can adapt to modern contexts.

Suburban Bogeymen
-- a triolet

Suburbia is pretty on the surface of its streets
But still it has its bogeymen, their magic new and strange ...
And evil lies in waiting, with a bag of poisoned sweets.
Suburbia is pretty on the surface of its streets
It fools unwary visitors who taste its tempting treats.
The bogeymen are pushers now, but their goals never change
Suburbia is pretty on the surface of its streets
But still it has its bogeymen, their magic new and strange.


Poem: "Petty Problems"

This poem was inspired by a prompt from ladyqkat directing my attention to certain posts by ladysprite.  I am well pleased to discover these, and hope I have done them justice in this poem.

Petty Problems

The Faerie Queen's court is bright and gay ...
With pets less than simple, so they say.

Seven years' service seemed a small price
For a scholarship and good advice.

Little I knew of the things I'd face,
Serving as vet to the faerie race.

A jackalope with a broken horn,
A parlor-maid's missing unicorn,

A troll complaining about his goats,
A centaur sick from feeling his oats,

A werewolf suffering from a cough,
A basilisk's claw near falling off,

Teacup griffins that eat their own legs,
Emergencies with cracked dragon eggs --

Is it any wonder I've gone spare,
Trying to balance the here and There?

Though they're petty problems, to be sure,
The hell they make of my days is pure.

I know that all jobs have parts that suck,
But on sabbat-eves, I curse my luck.

The city's no place for faerie kin,
But some of them love it, and stay in.

How could I blame them?  I live here too.
In faerie land, I'm just passing through.

My time near done, She asks if I'll stay,
Or part with Magic.  What could I say?

I choose my hopes, instead of my fears.
"Yes, Your Majesty.  Seven more years."


Poem: "All Hell Breaks Loose"

This poem was inspired by a discussion between kelkyag and janetmiles in the comments following "Stonewings."  It was sponsored by janetmiles.  Here, have more gargoyles.

All Hell Breaks Loose

For years, there had been rumors
of strange doings in New York --
muggers and robbers and rapists
suddenly snatched away from intended victims
and carried shrieking into the sky by shadowy wings.

The police dealt with it calmly --
they were, after all, also New Yorkers.
They tossed the babbling victims into a cell overnight.
By morning, the problem usually resolved
in sheepish apologies and confessions of too many drinks;
or if not, the men in white coats could be called
to take away the ones who kept talking crazy.

It wasn't until the advent of cell phone cameras
that someone actually managed to get proof
of what was really going on.
Soon there were too many pictures -- blurry and clear --
of gargoyles flying away with criminals
for anyone to ignore.
Not to mention the full-color photo
snapped by a New York Trash reporter
showing a gargoyle feeding its chicks.

There was a brief, heated debate over what to do.
Leave the gargoyles alone?
Order rocket launchers to shoot them down?
The police, still being New Yorkers,
decided to see if the gargoyles could be trained
like K-9 units with concrete wings.
After all, the argument went, they already knew
how to catch  the bad guys.  It was just a matter
of convincing them not to swallow.

The ruckus died down.
So did the crime rate.

Then one day, somebody gets the bright idea
to smuggle a few pairs of breeding gargoyles into Detroit
and all hell breaks loose.