February 11th, 2011


Issues in Volunteering

This essay argues that sometimes volunteering can do more harm than good, or take funds away from a more effective purpose.  The example given involves Haiti; the issue itself is larger.

It's something to think about.  On the one hand, there's a valid point about putting money where it will do the most good.  On the other: people these days, especially Americans, often don't give a flip about other people.  I am therefore rather reluctant to do anything that might discourage them from efforts to be helpful -- however minor -- in case that might put them off it entirely and permanently, as happens to some.  I'd want to be very sure  that the problem was serious enough to justify that risk, and I'd want to have some better alternative(s) in mind to offer people.  If folks want to volunteer and be helpful, that's a good  thing; we need to find ways of making that work. 

Poem: "Flash-Frozen"

This poem came from the February 8, 2011 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by prompts from laffingkat, who mentioned how two photographers can take wildly different photos in the same place, and who wanted to see more of the psychic photographer from "Telephoto Futures."  This poem was sponsored by marina_bonomi.


The first time they meet,
their eyes are shocked and huge
as their gazes lock:
the psychic photographer with her fisheye lens
hovering over the spy's freshly-planted bug,
the time traveler with his miniaturized zoom
trained on the suborned security guard,
each suddenly realizing that the other is aware
of their not-entirely-authorized presence
at the upscale charity benefit.

They sidle away through staff doors
on opposite sides of the room
and spend hours
                           spend hours
                                               spend hours 
spend hours
circling around each other
trying to see without meeting
and then trying to meet
without being seen.

Wary as courting porcupines,
they finally come together,
and come clean.
From then on,
it doesn't take long
for them to fall in love.

When the first warship of the alien fleet
debouches its landing party into Fort Reno Park,
the two lovers are there waiting for them
safe behind a line of leaf-screened tanks
and members of the embedded press.

Caught yet again on film and in pixels
and in painfully incandescent searchlights,
the invasion force debarks posthaste,
leaving behind its hysterical scouts
as they scream into their comlinks
and dive for cover
right into the poison ivy.

Word gets around
not to bother that grubby blue planet
infested by the bareskinned monkeys
with the clever, clever paws.


Poetry Fishbowl Report for Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The February fishbowl was delayed due to inclement weather, moved from Feb. 1 to Feb. 8.  On previous occasions, rescheduling a fishbowl has resulted in lower participation and donations.  This time, the participation was enthusiastic and the donations well in the normal range.  I am thrilled.  I pretty much credit this to improved momentum overall and more promotion by fans, since I didn't do anything different myself this time.  So, you folks all rock and I love you to pieces.

This month's theme was "Vision & Sight."  A few poems went in relatively mundane directions, but most turned out science fiction or fantasy.  I wound up with a bunch of Torn World poems, along with a handful of series installments.  A steady stream of prompts filled the entire day.  I worked from noon to 1 AM, so about 11 hours accounting for breaks.  I wrote 25 poems, the most in a fishbowl so far.  Lengths varied, some in each category, leaning toward the longer end with several epics.  Everything was free verse this time, though with a trend towards consistent verses -- unrhymed tercets, quatrains, etc.  Most poems used a single prompt, while a handful combined them.  A total of 19 people sent prompts, a nice lively number.  There were no new prompters or sponsors this month, so only one freebie poem was posted.

Read Some Poetry!
The following poems from the February 2011 Poetry Fishbowl have been posted:

"The Archivist's Eye" (a Torn World poem)
"The Eye of Mímisbrunnr"
"Eyesight, Insight, Gunsight"
"Flash-Frozen" (a psychic photographer poem)
"In Black and White" (a Star Trek poem)
"Invincible Wisdom" (a Torn World poem)
"The Manticore's Eyes"
"The Ocean of Her Eyes" (an Inkseer poem)
"Palimpsest Candy"
"Secondhand Sight" (a Monster House poem)
"Seeing Clearly"
"Shame Comes to Civilization" (a Kherishdar poem)
"Sights to See"
"unfolding wings" (an Origami Mage poem)

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 February.  That includes the title, length, price, and the original thumbnail description for the poems still available.

All of the fully sponsored poems have been posted, along with the first half of "The Ocean of Her Eyes" (currently ahead in the general funding poll).  Backchannel copies of other poems have been sent to the various prompters.  The donor perk-post for February discusses serial poetry.

Donors for February include marina_bonomi, ladyqkat, laffingkat, janetmiles, aldersprig, xjenavivex, thesilentpoet, ellenmillion, and the_vulture.  Thanks to everyone for a great fishbowl!

The Poetry Fishbowl project also has a permanent landing page.

Cosponsors FOUND for "The Archivist's Eye"

thesilentpoet wants to know if anyone will split sponsorship of "The Archivist's Eye," a Torn World poem from my Feb. 8, 2011 Poetry Fishbowl.  (This poem is about Unafari; some of you may have read her stories "The Shades of Yesterday" and "The Gaudy Eye.")  If you're interested, please let us know. 

ellenmillion and thesilentpoet have teamed up to cosponsor "The Archivist's Eye," another Torn World poem. That one will also be submitted to the canon board so it can hopefully be echoed on the Torn World site.

Poem: "The Archivist's Eye"

This poem came from the February 8, 2011 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by prompts from thesilentpoet and ellenmillion, then cosponsored between them.  This is a Torn World poem about Unafari; some of you may have read her stories "The Shades of Yesterday" and "The Gaudy Eye."  (Those are locked to supporters only.)  The verses span the previous two stories and ultimately hint at events just beginning to ripple through the Empire now. 

This poem hasn't been submitted to the canon board yet, so please consider it potentially canon rather than solid for now.  Pending approval, it will eventually be posted on Torn World for public viewing, as it has been sponsored.  thesilentpoet, are you registered on the Torn World site?  If so, please let me know your TW username so I can list you as a patron when I submit the poem.  Thanks!

The Archivist's Eye
-- a Torn World poem

The archivist's eye
rolls the colored pencils in a mental grip,
viewing not just their spectral hues but their symbolism.

The archivist's eye
sees the pin holes that are not there
and discerns the meaning of their absence.

The archivist's eye
reads the card in the catalog
and wonders at the glaring inconsistencies.

The archivist's eye
imagines flicking dust away from the feathers
to reveal the indeterminable truth of their provenance.

The archivist's eye
spots the wine rings on the license paper,
a study in pink revealing someone's secret vices.

The archivist's eye
lingers on a man's hands,
their smudge of ink telling his hidden passions.

The archivist's eye
overlays the past onto the present
and looks away, unable to watch the coming collision.


More Poetry!

The general poll enthusiastically funded the second half of "The Ocean of Her Eyes," so you can now read the whole thing on its original page.  This is the third poem in the Inkseer series.

Also, ellenmillion and thesilentpoet have teamed up to cosponsor "The Archivist's Eye," another Torn World poem.  That one will also be submitted to the canon board so it can hopefully be echoed on the Torn World site.

What is a bestseller?

Here's an article talking about a self-published book that reached bestseller status, if one is honest about "bestseller = a kazillion copies of the book sold."  Sadly some sources that create bestseller lists lie.  They crop their data.  Cropped data is worse than useless.  That's not a bestseller list; it's a list of "high-selling books that some dude things are Worthy."  Just call it an Editor's Pick list and be done with it.

Why is this important?  Well, it's a lot like crowdfunding.  Conventional markets, and awards, and all that other jazz are still largely ignoring crowdfunded works (with a few notable exceptions, like the Nebula with The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland...)  If you want to know what is going on in a field, then you have to look at ALL of it, not just the parts that you personally think are special.  Otherwise you will get blindsided by the new things.  The Internet, social networking, and other cool new things are making it possible for individuals or casual groups to achieve things that used to be possible only for Big Business.  So don't take your eye off the ball.

This is all wrong and I want to write it anyway...!

I love this picture.

I am seriously tempted to write this up as a Duurludirj secret love affair, because what could be more wicked than an island girl having a pet sea monster?

Deathfins have big sails, and they do not beach like that.  But I am really really tempted to fudge something into my complicated mess of marine ecosystem notes that would fit this, just because the idea is so cool.

Poem: "Sights to See"

This poem came from the February 8, 2011 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by prompts from puffbird who wanted to explore visual divergences (depth perception, color blindness, etc.) and art, and by janetmiles who mused about the visionary/mystic/mentally ill spectrum.  It was sponsored by the_vulture.

Sights to See

Sometimes it is the quirks
in our bodies and minds
that lead to our creativity.

Body dysphoria is not so far
from caricature and cartoons.
The artist without depth perception
may take to stained glass or quilting
or stylized drawing.

If we all saw the world the same way,
we would have no Picasso and no Cubism,
no Monet and no Impressionism.

We would be reft of insight
and left without vision
in a world full of sights to see,
had we not the sights to see them.