( Collapse )
( Collapse )
Starting now, the Poetry Fishbowl is open! Today's theme is "low fantasy." 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 "low fantasy" anyway? It's usually contrasted with high fantasy, and can mean: small-scale rather than large-scale events, minor rather than major heroes, less rather than more magic, also sometimes stories set in a close analog of our world rather than an obviously different fantasy world, ambiguous rather than polarized morality, and/or a tone more gritty than glowing. Low fantasy is about saving a village rather than a country or a world, about getting one or two people's lives to work halfway decently, about solving problems with the gear on your back rather than an army's worth, and dealing with problems that don't really have good solutions. In the rain. So for instance, the Fiorenza series mainly concerns life in a quiet little village, with occasional preternatural problems that get solved more by wit than magic.
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 "low 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.
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.
This is today's freebie poem. It was inspired by prompts from the_vulture and siliconshaman about gaming and self-referential characters. How do campaign settings shift from low magic to high magic? When epic characters roll well and decide to change the world ...
The gamers are awaiting reincarnation,
chatting with the Universe as they work.
They are choosing classes, generating stats,
and minmaxing their advantages and disadvantages.
The computer wizard is pumping IQ
while the stick jock goes for Strength.
Eyeing the conditions of the campaign setting,
everyone loads for bear.
Probabilities clatter and dance,
then fall in their favor.
The dice lie innocently upon the table,
glittering like pyrite.
"Remember, this is a low-magic setting,"
the Universe says testily.
The computer wizard cracks some knuckles
and says, "I can fix that."
The Universe grumbles
and demands to be passed the cheetos.
This poem was inspired and sponsored by the_vulture. It touches on fond memories of gritty low fantasy stories, and roleplaying games at low level. (One of my best-ever campaigns had everyone at first level for almost the entire time.) And just because you've changed life roles doesn't mean that you're out of the picture...
(You can read about Dron's neighbor, Brilla the Baker, in "Half-Baked Ideas.")
Dron retired from the army
with a bad limp and a bag of gold.
He missed the adventure, though,
and the everyday challenge of survival.
He bought a tavern
in a quiet little crossroad hamlet,
hung his axe over the mantelpiece,
and prepared to settle down.
At the end of the first week,
there was a brawl.
Two dwarves and four elves had it out.
Dron tossed them into the street.
At the end of the second week,
there was a fire. Apprentice wizard. Too much ale.
Dron put him out
and then extinguished the flames.
Not long after that,
bandits tried to raid the bar.
Dron's axe had a new nick in the shaft
when he hung it back over the hearth.
Then came the adventuring party
whose cleric had somehow gotten kidnapped,
and would anyone possibly have heard any gossip?
Oh please. Barkeeper.
At the end of the month, Dron smiled.
How could he ever have forgotten where the action happened?
Perhaps retirement wouldn't be unbearably boring after all.
Humming, the barkeeper polished his glassware. And then his axe.
So angela_n_hunt was ruthlessly dissecting a movie for poor content and shabby use of heras. The critique began with the title "You have been given all the weapons you need." It led to this poem, which she has sponsored.
"You have been given all the weapons you need."
Wilda and Vronic looked at each other.
They looked at the wagon full of swords
and sheaves of light lances tied with twine.
Then they looked down the mountain,
slopes black with orcen army.
"Now fight," said the duke, then left.
Wilda heaved a sigh,
tucking a strand of dark hair behind her pointed ear.
One wagonload of weapons.
Well, it was a start.
Vronic crossed her burly human arms
and grumbled curses in three languages.
Then she perked up.
"Hey, look ... the drover has throwing knives."
Wilda flicked her sharp gaze downhill
to where the orcen commander
had foolishly pitched his tent on the rise above the ravine.
"We could infiltrate and behead their whole command."
The two women grinned
as they shook down the drover for suitable gear.
It began to rain.