October 4th, 2011


Two Plots

Here's a discussion of two plots commonly applied to female characters, rape and pregnancy.  The implication in the background reference is that those are the ONLY things that can happen to female characters.  *glance at personal archives*  So not applicable for me.  I do have some material that deals with those issues, but they aren't all over everything. My female characters get to do all kinds of other things.  Actually, including rape and knock up other characters; and male or other character are not exempt from either of those things.  

In terms of turning characters inside-out, I've probably done more stories involving torment with foreign languages.

Poetry Fishbowl Open!

The Poetry Fishbowl is CLOSED.  Thank you all for your time and attention.

Starting now, the Poetry Fishbowl is open!  Today's theme is "ghosts."  (You can be creative about different conceptualizations of "ghost" and while the topic is horror-themed, you're free to aim for any tone you want.)  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.

The linkbacks perk is active.  Click to read "Salt and Pepper" (Path of the Paladins) or notify aldersprig of linkbacks to reveal more verses.

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 "ghosts." 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) Swim, Fishie, Swim! -- Here is a progress meter showing the amount donated.  At $150 you get a free series poem; at $200 you get an extra fishbowl featuring a poetic series.

$275.50 raised, first goal MET, second goal MET

3) 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.

4) 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"

5) 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.

Linkback perk: I have a spare series poem available, and each linkback will reveal a verse of the poem.  One person can do multiple links if they're on different services, like Dreamwidth or Twitter, rather than all on LiveJournal.  aldersprig has volunteered to post the verses this month, so you'll need to notify her of your linkbacks in a comment to her post, in order for them to count.  "Salt and Pepper" belongs to the Path of the Paladins series and has 17 verses.

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.  (If it's one that already has unpublished poetry, you'll get to pick from that.  Otherwise, I'll write something new, and October donors will get to offer me prompts.)  If donations reach $200, the perk upgrades so that you get a whole extra fishbowl for a poetic series, including a free poem.  Everyone will get to vote on which series, and give prompts during the extra fishbowl, although it's likely to be a half-day rather than a whole day.

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 "ghosts."  I'll be soliciting ideas for spirits of the dead, famous ghosts, other types of phantasm, ghostly things, equipment for finding ghosts, spectral objects, hauntings, encounters with spectres, weirdnesses that occur when ghosts are around, reasons why someone becomes a ghost, haunted places, unexpected locations to meet a ghost, legends or superstitions about ghosts, the nature of ghosts, moods that a ghost might be in, 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, an extra series poem  if donations reach $150+, and a series fishbowl  if donations reach $200.  Linkbacks reveal verses of "Salt and Pepper.") The rest of the poems will go into my archive for magazine submission.
Fly Free

Poem: "Silent Laughter"

Here is the first freebie for the October 4, 2011 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by a prompt from the_vulture, who described a beautiful interaction with a departed friend.

Silent Laughter

Our old friends and kin watch over us still,
coming and going invisibly through our daily lives.
Time is no more to them than the trees of a forest
through which they can move at will.

Late in the year, when the moon wanes
and the Veil thins to gossamer as light
as a spiderweb dropped on an autumn lawn,
they reach out to remind us of their presence.

Wave a piece of paper past a candle's flame
and seek for a message in the marks of smoke --
such things are easily shaped by spirits,
themselves as ephemeral as light and ash.

Dark as a footprint on new snow,
the image emerges, a plump wolf
loping with mouth agape in silent laughter,
name written not in words but in memory and truth.

Those we have loved remain with us:
they are always there, frost-furred wolves
running through the silver mists of the bright beyond,
herding our futures toward us like so many deer to a feast.


Poem: "Haunts of History"

This poem was inspired by a prompt from aldersprig and sponsored by fireun.  The idea of haunting a place that doesn't exist anymore got me thinking about prehistoric houses made from mammoth bones.

Haunts of History

They are still there,
vague as fog on cold mornings,
stirring and stirring the ancient air.

They are something less than memory,
more than ghosts -- impressions left in bone,
in earth, in jumbled artifacts like a tumble of lost treasure.

This was a home once,
built from mammoth bones and hides,
housing the laughter of families and the press of warm flesh.

The ghost of its past
is still visible in its presence,
white scaffolding shining in the mind's eye.

These were people, once,
and great shaggy beasts huge as houses,
their passage looming large over the dusty steppes.

The echos of these ancestors
linger in the teasing, ceaseless wind
and whisper hunches into the heat of living ears.

The archaeologists shiver
even in the bright noon sunlight,
stumble at a subtle shove but do not know why.

The spirits swirl,
purposeless yet eternal,
bubbles in an eddy of Time's infinite river.


Poem: "Full Stop"

This poem was inspired by prompts from marina_bonomi and my_partner_doug who got to talking about sudden deaths and stuck souls.  To convey a sense of the afterlife as experienced by such a soul, I used the extended metaphor of a stranded motorist -- a familiar experience for many folks that should counterbalance the mysterious subject.  This poem was sponsored by marina_bonomi.

Full Stop

A sudden unexpected death
is like a breakdown:
you were going somewhere
and then without any warning
you're not.

The car coughs black smoke,
skids to a stop and lodges
firmly in a snowdrift.
Going nowhere.

The road is empty
but for the blowing snow,
and now that the heater has conked out
you abruptly become aware
of just how cold it has been all along.

You hate the idea of waiting.
Your fingers fiddle with the door handle,
but you're not dressed for this weather
and you remember the safety rule:
In case of emergency, remain with your vehicle.

So you wait, and you hate it,
and there's nothing going on,
and the windows slowly frost over.
The wind and the snow whisper softly outside,
and gradually your chattering mind quiets itself
as you realize that you're never going to reach your destination,
that you'll be spending the night somewhere else after all.
That's all right, you think to yourself,
the storm cooling the first burn of frustration.
There are other places you can be.

Then, just as suddenly as the breakdown itself,
there comes a loud rapping at the window.
Hastily you roll it down, and there is a grinning towtruck driver
with a truck already backed into position, its rotating lights
splashing the frozen landscape with flashes of warm gold.

You ride to the nearest town in the toasty cab of that truck,
and then there is heat and light and cocoa and bed
and you don't mind so much when you find out
that your car is totalled on account of a seized engine

because you are safe here
and that's all that matters.

Fly Free

Poem: "Slippers in the Sky"

There are new donors in the Poetry Fishbowl today, so you get a second freebie. [personal profile] jjhunter posted an image prompt that I found fascinating. It led to this...

Slippers in the Sky

It was custom to get rid of them this way --
old tennis shoes and boots and slippers
would be tied together and tossed on high,
snagged in trees or over wires,
left to dangle in the winter winds
until the weather wore them away.

One day a ghost came,
tucked his luminous feet into his slippers,
stood for a long minute leaning on air
and then strode quietly away again,
taking his slippers with him.