October 19th, 2011

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Why Handmade Is Expensive

Here's a detailed article explaining why handmade items are more expensive than mass-produced stuff.  The details will vary from one art/craft to another; this one is for custom sewing.

You can see something similar in my work.  I write poetry rather fast, so I can afford to sell it at reasonable rates.  You could buy a whole magazine for the $10 it would cost to sponsor a medium-short poem -- but you'd be getting what someone else thought was good, not necessarily what's to your own taste.  My sponsorable poems are mostly based on audience ideas, so this is stuff you folks are interested in.  Plus, you get nonexclusive reprint rights if you sponsor a poem from me.  This is the kind of place to find bargains in homemade stuff: anything the creator can do quickly, easily, and offer to a variety of folks.

Now look at my custom work.  You can commission a scrapbook page of a poem.  Prices on those include my assembly time and modest art skill, and the very high price of archival scrapbook materials: typically $5-10.  Custom poetry typically runs about twice the rates for fishbowl poetry -- so for instance, it starts at $10 for short poems.  Basically you pay extra to get exactly  what you want from an expert who will work to your specifications.

When you buy something, you're paying for someone's time, skills, and materials.  Buying direct from the creator gives you the best deal.  Buying from a distributor or retail shop means there will be markup -- sometimes a huge amount -- for all the middlemen.  But the economy of scale often compensates for that, so mass-market stuff tends to be cheaper.  The quality is almost always lower, because that's a way to cut costs and maximize profit.  When I buy a garment at Wal-Mart, I'm lucky if it survives a few years' of wear and tear.  When I hand-sew one, it's built to last.  I just can't resist rolling the seams to keep them from fraying.  Much of my homemade Renaissance/fantasy/Pagan garb could be washed by beating it against a rock, and survive.  Similarly with my poetry, it is built with a solid grasp of linguistics and comes in topics the mainstream rarely if ever broaches.

In other words: you get what you pay for.  Shop Main Street.
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List of Unsold Poems from the October 18, 2011 Poetry Fishbowl

The following poems from the October 18, 2011 Poetry Fishbowl are currently available. They may be sponsored via PayPal -- there's a permanent donation button on my LiveJournal profile page -- or you can write to me and discuss other methods.

These poems have all been slotted into the Monster House list on the Serial Poetry page, in probable chronological order.  Monster House is currently eligible to open a new microfunded epic poem.  There are three from this fishbowl: "Beggars Night," "Not Mine" and "Imperfect Light." There are also two previous ones: "Lurking" ($36) and "Zee" ($57).  If folks are interested in opening a new epic, you might want to discuss that in comments below this post to see which one has the most support.


"alien aquarium" -- 19 lines, $10
From your prompt about Grandma's gift, I got the waltz wave "alien aquarium." Some members of the household like the thing more than others.

"Beggars Night" -- 103 lines, $51.50
"Beggars Night" is a free-verse poem about Halloween in the Monster House. The fun begins when the doorbell rings...

"Family Ways" -- 59 lines, $20
I combined your prompt about monsters helping with chores and moonwolf1988's request for more about the radiator dragon. The result is "Family Ways," a very sweet free-verse poem about love and housework in a shared home.

"The Girl He Brought Home" -- not for sale yet
I combined your neighborhood child prompt with one from eseme about the younger brother. The result is the free-verse poem "The Girl He Brought Home" in which a school project leads to some interesting discoveries. It's a sequel to "Not Mine" so will be available for sale after that one is published.

"Imperfect Light" -- 114 lines, $57
Thinking about the little old lady ghost, I took a detailed look at her role in the family. It turns out that she isn't sticking around for quite the usual sort of reason. "Imperfect Light" is written in free verse.

"Nitwits" -- 18 lines, $10
From the true believer prompt, I got the free-verse poem "Nitwits," about a paranormal club with more enthusiasm than sense. Just because something is real doesn't necessarily mean that everyone can find it with both hands and a map.

"Not Mine" -- 71 lines, $35.50
I combined your prompt about the monster out of the house with fayanora's prompt about the bogeyman and aldersprig's prompts for neighbors and bad things. The result is "Not Mine," a free-verse poem about an abused child in the neighborhood and what is to be done about that. This poem has a considerably darker tone than most of this series.

"Red Rover, Red Rover, Send Sally on Over" -- 54 lines, $20
From your prompt about teachers and hidden things, I got the free-verse poem "Red Rover, Red Rover, Send Sally on Over." A music teacher is hearing things that turn out not to be hallucinatory after all.

"Running Through the House" -- 19 lines, $10
From the prompt about people getting sick, I got the free-verse poem "Running Through the House," which deals with shared germs and what makes it all worthwhile.

"Stone Knives and Bearskins" -- 29 lines, $15
You and my_partner_doug both wanted to see more of Grandma, so I wrote the free-verse poem "Stone Knives and Bearskins" explaining why her gadgets generally don't work.

"Tucked Away" -- 36 lines, $15 SOLD
From the "sleepover" prompt, I got the free-verse poem "Tucked Away," in which young primates like to cuddle fuzzy things.

"The Wrong House" -- 20 lines, $10 SOLD
I loved the Passover prompt. It turned into the free-verse poem "The Wrong House," in which the prophet Elijah gets slightly lost.
monster house

Poem: "Tucked Away"

This poem came out of the October 18, 2011 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired and sponsored by zianuray.  Sometimes, even the extraordinary people want a little taste of the ordinary ... even if it doesn't always work out that way in the end.  You can find the other poems in the Monster House series via my Serial Poetry page.


Tucked Away


For my birthday,
I wanted to do something ordinary,
so I asked to have a slumber party.
It took a while to talk my parents into it
but eventually they agreed.

Six little girls from my class
got to come over,
while our nonhuman housemates
made themselves scarce.
The house seemed oddly empty.

We had fun, though,
playing Monopoly and Twister
since Hide and Seek was,
as my mother said,
inadvisable.

There was a bit of a scare
the next morning
when Susie turned up missing.

We ran through the house
looking for her,
and I finally found her
tucked away in the bathroom closet,
sound asleep.

The monster in the closet
spread his hands and whispered,
"I swear I never set foot out of this closet,
but it didn't do any good."
Susie was wrapped in a spare blanket
and curled like a kitten around his ankles.

"Well, at least we tried,"
I said, bending down
to shake Susie awake for breakfast.
"Don't tell anyone," I advised her.

"Who would believe me?"
said Susie.  "Except for you."
We shared a conspiratorial grin.

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Poem: "The Wrong House"

This poem came out of the October 18, 2011 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by a prompt from thesilentpoet regarding Elijah the prophet and Passover.  It was sponsored by zianuray and thesilentpoet. You can find the other Monster House poems listed on the Serial Poetry page.


The Wrong House


We were just sitting down to dinner
when a voice yelled from the front porch,
"Never mind, already, I'll open the door for myself!"

Our daughter ran to get the door.
Bemused, we followed her,
and there at our doorstep
stood a tall bearded man
wearing elegant dark clothes.

"Sorry, sir," she said.
"Naomi's house is four doors that way."
She pointed helpfully down the street.

As we returned to the kitchen,
I asked, "What was that all about?"

"Oh, we talked about Passover
in school this week, and Naomi brought in
her grandfather's seder plate for show and tell.
So we learned about Elijah and the door and the extra cup."

Then our daughter giggled.
"I didn't know Naomi was 'family' though,"
she said.  "Maybe I can invite her over."