January 17th, 2012


Seeking the Dream

This is going around the net today:

We must ask ourselves one key and critical question: what have we done to make Dr. King’s vision of the Beloved Community come true? As a nation, indeed a global community, we must ask ourselves if we are any closer to a just and equitable society a reality since that tragic day in Memphis nearly 44 years ago. And we must confront the issue of whether we have really made strides towards justice , peace, and inclusion? And long after this celebration has ended…long after the marches and the singing…long after the last benediction… and long after the last “Amen”… we must ask ourselves, “Where do we go from here?”
-- Dr. Brian Clardy

I like the idea of equality and dignity as social virtues, and a culture where skin culture is just a feature like hair color or eye color, not a reason to murder people. I think racism is just blindingly stupid.  Some things I've done to move the world dreamwards include:

* reading things written by people of many different ethnic background.  Frex, here are some of my favorite poets.
* writing about characters of many different ethnic backgrounds.  On the Serial Poetry page, the Origami Mage is Asian, Fiorenza is Italian, Maryam Smith is African-British, etc.  My fiction is similarly mixed but not as much of it is online.
* crowdfunding character diversity in other people's projects.  I've asked for black characters, a Lakota vampire, all kinds of stuff. 
* boosting the signal for things that support racial tolerance.
* teaching prison inmates about black and Hispanic writers, getting them hooked on literature by people like them.
* playing "Poke a Bigot in the Eye."  I've done it for racism as well as sexism, etc.
* voting for people of color in politics, if they seem minimally objectionable (I rarely find politicians I admire).
* agitating for human dignity and equality, a major flavor of activism that I practice.
* friending people around the world in online networks, so I can follow what's happening in far-flung places and see what issues are important in people's lives.
* making my online venues as safe as I can manage for discussion of controversial issues.
* hanging out in mixed groups when I have the chance in person.  I don't get out much, but my latter high school was extremely diverse and I adored that.

What are some things you do to encourage racial tolerance?

Let the Sexists Forfeit

In order to keep a girl from playing football, two opposing teams threatened to forfeit if she was allowed to play.  There's a petition against this

Better idea?  Don't give in to the fucking sexists by benching girls.  LET THEM FORFEIT.  If all the schools with mixed-sex sports teams did this, the sexists would either have to play them, or substantially get shut out of sports.  Catering to that kind of nonsense is utterly unacceptable.

Poetry Fishbowl Open!

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

Starting now, the Poetry Fishbowl is open!  This is the perk for the December 6, 2011 fishbowl meeting the $200 goal.  Today's theme is "Fiorenza the Wisewoman."  (You can read the other poems in this series on my Serial Poetry page.)  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 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 "Fiorenza the Wisewoman." 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"

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.

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 "Fiorenza the Wisewoman."  I'll be soliciting ideas for villagers, visitors, fairy tale characters or creatures, rural Italy, historic cottages or gardens, sacred or historic places near Fermo, ordinary objects with mystical effects, fairy tale plot twists, personal conflicts or challenges, side scenes from previous events, gaps in the storyline that need to be filled, everyday issues transmuted into rustic fantasy versions, and Italian 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 of the poems will go into my archive for magazine submission.
Fly Free

Poem: "Walking with the Witch-son"

Here is today's first freebie poem.  It was inspired by prompts from rowyn and moon_fox.  This is a sequel to "Fiorenza and the Witch-son," in which Fiorenza and Giacinto further explore the attraction and challenge of their relationship.  Visit the Serial Poetry page to learn more about this series.

Walking with the Witch-son

After the Fermo market closed for the day
Giacinto the striòs  turned to Fiorenza and said,
"Would you like to go walking with me?"

So the two of them strolled
through the narrow cobbled streets of the city,
not quite touching
but very conscious of each other's presence.

Giacinto bought a bouquet of flowers.
He tucked a cyclamen into his vest and
Fiorenza put orchids in the black curls of her hair.
She bought a packet of becciate  to share,
savoring the sweets made from raisins and pine nuts.

"It is a difficult thing," Giacinto said presently,
"to fancy someone who lives in another village."
"So it is," Fiorenza agreed.
Their long skirts swished against the stones of the street,
Giacinto's in deep marine blue, Fiorenza's in forest green.
For a time they walked in silence
except for the soft whisper of the fabric.

Fiorenza thought about her home,
the little cottage with its garden and orchard and
the precious glass house that sheltered the delicate plants.
She thought about Mad Ercole who lived with her,
and Don Candido who would wear himself out if allowed,
and all the other people who relied on her.
A wisewoman accepted a certain immobility
along with the privileges and duties of her station.

"I like you very much, Giacinto,
but I cannot leave my village," said Fiorenza.
"The people need me.  It is hard enough for them
to accept me so young,
after my mother and grandmother died."

"I understand," Giacinto said sadly.
"My mother is old and I cannot leave her.
My villagers count on me for much already.
It is hard enough for them
to accept a son instead of a daughter."

So they kissed cheeks and parted,
saying in chorus,
"See you next market day."