April 5th, 2011


Poetry Fishbowl Open!

EDIT: The Poetry Fishbowl is now CLOSED (as of 2 AM, though LJ was down then so I couldn't update).  Thank you all for your enthusiasm.

LiveJournal is fubar today. I have echoed this post over on my Dreamwidth account. Also, if you want a Dreamwidth invite code, I have some; just contact me backchannel or leave a comment on DW.

Starting now, the Poetry Fishbowl is open!  Today's theme is "Mad Science."  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.

I'm trying out a new perk this time.  If donations total $150+ by Friday evening then I'll write an extra series poem after the Poetry Fishbowl, and post it for free.  Everyone will get to vote which series gets a new poem.  April donors will get some kind of input into the poem's content; I'm currently thinking I might ask them for prompts, but it could be something else.

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 "Mad Science." 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 latest 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 "Mad Science."  

I'll be soliciting ideas for mad scientists (as heroes or villains), their assistants, their heroic allies or adversaries, hapless victims, sentient creations, nonsentient creations, bizarre weapons, lab equipment or scenery, things that would be special effects in a movie, plots that happen in labs, mad science saving the day, scientific mishaps, science gone horribly wrong, moral quandaries, religious morasses, folding or spindling proper scientific methods, mad scientist lairs and hideouts, other places where mad science might happen, settings you wouldn't expect to find a mad scientist who is there anyhow, stuff you always wanted to see in old shows about mad science that nobody ever forked over, 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.

New Verses of "Paper, Scissors, Stone"

eseme has donated enough to fund three new verses of "Paper, Scissors, Stone."  The Monster House series is urban fantasy about a family sharing a home with extraordinary creatures.  This poem deals with a pair of enchanted scissors and a gargoyle.

98 lines, Buy It Now = $49
Amount donated = $35
Verses posted = 12 of 17

Amount remaining to fund fully = $14
Amount needed to fund next verse = $2.50
Amount needed to fund the verse after that = $5.50
Fly Free

Poem: "Science on the Chopping Block"

Here is today's first freebie.  kelkyag pointed me to "The Joy of Cooking" by Janet Chui.  The picture got me thinking about the early history of science, how mad scientists can be totally impractical ... but not everyone in the household is necessarily the same way.

Science on the Chopping Block

Ever since there has been science,
some of the scientists have been mad.
There have always been men
who preferred working over a lab bench than a cobbler's bench,
who would rather drink silvered moonshine than water,
who could remember to write down lab notes but not a grocery list.

Then, too, there have always been women
who toiled in the kitchen by day
and snuck into the lab by night,
who made copper stretch farther than it should
until the lead-into-gold thing might work out ...

who occasionally got fed up with this experiment or that
and shoved the whole squiggling mass into a cookpot
and explained it away as
"There was a sale on calamari at market."

Fly Free

Poem: "Dust and Shadows"

Here is today's second freebie poem, courtesy of new prompter meeksp.  It was inspired by jolantru who mentioned golems and androids.  I've always been intrigued by the idea that humanity's creations spring forth because the urge to create is inherent in our own creation, our own nature -- contrasted here against the idea that a copy of a copy tends to be a degenerate thing.

Dust and Shadows

Legend tells of the golem,
thing of clay shaped by a rabbi's hands,
made to be a worker or a guardian --
made in man's image,
as man was made in G-d's image,
but a copy of a copy,
ever more flawed,
remaining as dumb and silent as the dust.

Today it is the android of which we whisper,
how it would save us so much work,
how it would also be such a danger to us,
this thing we might make from bright metal
that would be stronger than us should it rebel --
again, made by man in man's image,
strange shadow cast by divine light
against the coiled clay of our bones.

We too were made,
lesser things of lesser stuff,
unable to wrap our fumbling tongues
around the celestial wisdom --
yet something in us drives us to create,
shapes our clay hands around the things we make,
causes us to love even the dust and the shadows,
because there flickers in us a memory of sacred flame,
a kiln for which we reach to fire our dreams into truth --

something in us, something
that drives us mad if we deny it.