December 6th, 2011


Ability Advantages

There are advantages to having an ordinary level of mobility.

But you know what I noticed?  Many of those advantages are frangible.  It's easy to lose them, not just by being disabled, but also by being ... female, brown, poor, short, Pagan, queer, fat, old, or all sorts of other groups that are outside the core of what is considered most desirable and powerful.  All the statements are true if they include "because of my ability level."  But take that out, and many of those are things I constantly hear about people being denied for many other reasons.

If you are able-bodied, try not to assume that disabled people share all the same advantages you do.  There are things you probably won't notice or think of given your differing life experiences.

If you are disabled, try not to assume that able-bodied people all have the advantages you're missing out on, because plenty of folks will have lost those and/or others for reasons that may not be obvious to you.

In other words, treat each other gently and respectfully, and don't act like a jerk.  As best you can, try to compensate for each other's strengths and weaknesses.

Poetry Fishbowl Open!

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

Starting now, the Poetry Fishbowl is open!  Today's theme is "chocolate and other foods."  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.

Watch for the linkbacks perk to go live.  Click to read "Beggars' Night" (Monster House) or notify minor_architect 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 "chocolate and other foods." 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! -- A new feature in conjunction with fishbowl sponsorship is this 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.

$211 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.  minor_architect 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.  "Beggars' Night" belongs to the Monster House series and has 22 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 post an extra series poem after the Poetry Fishbowl.  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 December 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 "chocolate and other foods."  I'll be soliciting ideas for people who work with food, fans of chocolate, cooking equipment, objects associated with chocolate, interesting food mishaps, the effects of chocolate, exciting discoveries in chocolate, kitchens, restaurants, places where chocolate is produced, the connotations of food, occasions associated with chocolate, 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 "Beggars' Night.") The rest of the poems will go into my archive for magazine submission.

Fly Free

Poem: "Bittersweet Love"

Here is today's freebie poem.  It's based on a backchannel prompt about the healing power of chocolate, from the_vulture who is offline today.

Bittersweet Love

When the world was new,
the human beings wandered around
ignorant of love and healing.

So the Goddess went to the jungle
and planted a seed there
in the shade of the high canopy.
It grew into a humble tree
that produced fragrant flowers
and pods filled with small brown beans.

The tree whispered to a shaman,
who came to fetch the beans and turn them
into wonderful things to eat and to drink.
The flavor was like nothing else in the world,
rich and velvety and splendid.

The people ate of the beans quite eagerly.
Those who were sad
found their hearts uplifted.
Those who were lonely
found themselves drawn to each other.

The fame of the little tree
spread around the world,
and people did more and more things
with the wonderful beans it grew.

Some of the wisdom that went with it
was lost in the traveling,
but the tree and the beans
and everything made from them
still remembered

so that if anyone thought to ask,
Why are the raw beans so bitter
when finished chocolate is so sweet?
Why is chocolate so soothing?
And why does it only grow in the shade?

then the answers would come in a dream:

because the seed that the Goddess planted
was love, which is both bitter and sweet.
Love is the seed from which
all true healing and satisfaction grow.
Love can only flourish in good company;
it does not seek to put itself above others,
but works its magic quietly and out of sight.

When you taste chocolate,
you taste the love of the Goddess
in all its complexity and subtle power

and that is why people always want more of it.

Fly Free

Poem: "Public Displays of Confection"

This poem is today's second freebie, courtesy of new prompter Stephen Laird.  It was inspired by a prompt from my_partner_doug.

Public Displays of Confection

At first there was
the Hershey's kiss:
a simple dollop
of milk chocolate
wrapped in
demure silver.

Then came the
Hershey's hug,
milk chocolate
coated with
white chocolate.

When the
coconut creme
ones arrived,
they were
blow jobs,

and as for the
cherry cordial --
well, you can
guess where
that  went.

Although made
by another
company, it was
perhaps inevitable
that the bar of
dark chocolate
would be dubbed
Hershey's mindfuck.