March 1st, 2011


The Cookie Monster

This joke has been going around.  I like it.

A public union employee, a tea party activist, and a CEO are sitting at a table with a plate of a dozen cookies in the middle of it. The CEO takes 11 of the cookies, turns to the tea partier and says, "Watch out for that union guy. He wants a piece of your cookie."

Poetry Fishbowl Open!

The Poetry Fishbowl is now closed.  Thank you all for coming.

Starting now, the Poetry Fishbowl is open!  Today's theme is "Things With Wings" 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.

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 "Things With Wings." 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: "Sample Scrapbooked Poems 1-24-11"

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 "Things With Wings."  I'll be soliciting ideas for winged wildlife, fairies, angels, flying aliens, winged monsters, artificial wings, flying machines, things with other types of "wings" such as buildings or maple seeds, plots that involve flight, examples of "winging it," aerial habitats, other places where wings might be found, settings where wings are irrelevant or awkward, the limitations of flight, 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.

Poem: "The Flight of Free-Running Felines"

This poem was prompted by siliconshaman's reference to free-running felines, which led me to parkour, which gave me the cool French vocabulary.  It was sponsored by kyleri.

The Flight of Free-Running Felines

The leopard lives for l'art du déplacement.
He leaps over levies and sidles between vines.
He lifts himself effortlessly toward the leaves.

The panther pours herself into parkour.
She vaults tall piles of rock without need for a pole.
Her paws touch down silently, padded with powerful grace.

The tiger is a terrific traceur.
He traverses the entire forest, twining between trees.
He teases his way along tight trails.

Cats know how to be and to last,
être et durer,
fast and efficient as death.

Their strength and their speed are their purpose,
être fort pour être utile,
grace become power become presence.

Between each leap, a running feline flies:
this is their méthode naturelle,
knowing that is feeling, feeling that is flight.

Fly Free

Poem: "Pegasus Takes Flight"

Here is today's second freebie poem, courtesy of first-time prompter poeticknowledge.  It was inspired by prompts from marina_bonomi, my_partner_doug, and wyld_dandelyon.

Pegasus Takes Flight

The mythology book
is falling apart;
the crumbling glue
has gone to dust and
the pages have
fallen free of the spine.

The paper is still good,
though, creamy and fine,
smooth under the
seeking fingertips.

Smiling, a student
folds an origami horse,
then playfully makes two fans
and attaches them
to its shoulders.

Pegasus stretches
his paper wings, and
whinnies at the startled student,
then flies out the open window
to play tag with the pigeons.

Origami Mage

Poem: "the jade rabbit"

the_vulture sent me a lovely long prompt about the rabbit in the moon, and then sponsored this poem.  This got me thinking about the moon, and flight, and loneliness, and the industrious rabbit up there working all night.  Then I found the Origami Mage wandering in the wilderness, and of course when a virtuous hero is in distress, unexpected aid tends to appear...

To read more about the Origami Mage, visit the "Serial Poetry" page on my website.

the jade rabbit

origami mage
wanders through bamboo forest
tired and hungry

high overhead floats
the jade rabbit in the moon
with his bowl of rice

it is his duty
to gather the sacred herbs
for the immortals

as he flies through the
heavens in the shining moon
all rabbits praise him

origami mage
folds him a clover blossom
goes to sleep hungry

in the morning, though,
a bowl of rice sits waiting
and she prays her thanks