May 3rd, 2011


Poetry Fishbowl Open!

The Poetry Fishbowl is now CLOSED.  Thank you all for your enthusiasm.

Starting now, the Poetry Fishbowl is open!  Today's theme is "folk tales."  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 "folk tales." 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.

5) 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 planning to ask them for prompts, but it could be something else.

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 "Folk Tales."  

I'll be soliciting ideas for folk heroes, famous villains, legendary monsters, distinctive tools or weapons featured in folk tales, plot arcs or twists that are popular in folk tales, locations that often figure into folk tales, specific cultures and their folklore, the underlying meaning of folklore, how folklore affects people, 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: "Old Husbands' Tales"

Here is today's first freebie.  It was inspired by a prompt from ellenmillion that got me thinking about a matriarchal culture in Torn World.  So I took a look at that from a different perspective, and this is the result.  This poem will eventually be submitted to the Canon Board.

Old Husbands' Tales

The women may hold
"All That's Left"
of the land,
but the men too
have their secrets,
saved like the scraps
in a quilter's sack.

In the evenings
after the day's work
is done, they gather:
the old men
who have outlived
their powerful wives.

They tell over
the faded remnants
of ancient knowledge,
kept safe all this time
from those still swayed
by swaying hips.

This is the way
to mine gems,
to smelt metal,
to burn the black rock.
This is the way
to marry fire and water,
to make an engine,
to harness lightning.

They cannot do it
they have not
the tools or the
freedom for it.
They only husband
this knowledge
for their grandsons.

they whisper,
someday the time
will come

Nobody puts any stock
in the mutterings
of those men.
It's all just a bunch of
old husbands' tales.

But that does not
make it any less true.

Origami Mage

Poem: "ongaeshibanashi"

This poem belongs to the "Origami Mage" series, and you can read the other poems in that series by visiting the "Serial Poetry" page on my website.  It was inspired by a prompt from thesilentpoet, who wanted to read about Japanese folklore.  It was sponsored by marina_bonomi.


origami mage
has grown up hearing these tales
of kindness repaid

kirigami mage
has grown up on sad stories
and witty stories

other girls at school
tell ghost stories, greed stories,
tales of long ago

origami mage
listens to all the stories
then picks which to keep

kirigami mage
wonders why no one weeps or
laughs at her stories

other girls at school
look at them funny but watch
their clever fingers

origami mage
tries to teach her rival to
tell a new story

kirigami mage
fumbles unfamiliar plot
and gives up too soon

other girls at school
whisper behind their hands
a story unfolds


Poem: "Chasing the Rain"

This poem was inspired and sponsored by ladyqkat.  Reality is a semipermeable space...

Chasing the Rain

Between water and light
lies the boundary
of is  and is not
as the world's edge
thins to the line where
two facets of prism meet.

What really lies at
the end of the rainbow
is not a pot of gold
but something more precious:
a chance to change
what is manifest
to imaginary,
what is not yet so
to something you can hold.

It's worth chasing the rain
for an opportunity
to catch the rainbow.


Poem: "Supersized"

This poem was prompted and sponsored by the_vulture.  Heroes change with the times, yet remain quintessentially the same.


"The world needs its heroes,"
said the Muse.  "Times are changing,
so we're updating your look a bit."

"Are you sure about this?"
Robin Hood said dubiously
as he eyed his new costume.
"I don't recognize anything but the hat!"

"Hey, Rob!  Look at this!" yelled Little John,
holding up an arrow with a boxing glove on the end.
The Merry Men all laughed.

"I see what you mean, Robin,"
said Hercules as he unfolded his bundle.
"I don't think mine will fit."
"It will be called spandex,"
said the Muse.  "It stretches."

Hercules gave the bodysuit a yank.
It stretched.  "Why is there a sigma  on the front?"
"That's an 'S' now, dear,"
said the Muse.  "New times, new titles --"

"This himation  is all wrong,"
Hercules whined.
The Muse sighed
and showed him how to attach the cape.

Then Diana stepped out of the dressing room
wearing her boots, her bracelets, her tiara,
and a brightly colored bathing suit.
"Not one word out of any of you,"
she said grimly,
"or I'll strangle you with my shiny new rope."

The Muse just smiled,
and shooed them gently toward the drawing board.

Fly Free

Poem: "Slashing Through the Undergrowth"

So meeksp wanted to throw together folk heroes from different cultures, idhren24 wanted something related to Dreamwidth, and aldersprig wondered where old folktales go to be reborn. I got to thinking about deconstructing folklore and how it all comes down to archetypes anyhow ... which can get into some real hijinks in the collective unconscious.  So the more you know about folk tales, history, literature, slash, cyberspace, obscure psychology, and the fine art of interpretation ... the funnier this will be.  This is the second freebie today, thanks to new prompter idhren24.

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