February 21st, 2012


Intentional Community Award

This came in today from the Federation for Intentional Community:


The Fellowship for Intentional Community announces that nominations are now open
for the 2013 Kozeny Communitarian Award. This honors the indomitable spirit of
Geoph Kozeny, who devoted his adult life to creating community in the world.
This Award is intended to celebrate the accomplishments of a person or
organization in one or more of the following ways:
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Poetry Fishbowl Open!

The Poetry Fishbowl is now CLOSED.  Thank you all for dropping by.

Starting now, the Poetry Fishbowl is open!  This is the perk for the February 7, 2012 fishbowl meeting the $200 goal.  Today's theme is "The Steamsmith."  (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 "The Steamsmith." 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 "The Steamsmith."  I'll be soliciting ideas for Maryam Smith, her family and friends, other steamsmiths, historic alchemists and odd scientists, historic gender-benders, famous Africans or Brits, steampunk artifacts, alchemical science, the four elements, magical artifacts, the city of London, the British Empire, Africa, squabbles over race/class/gender/etc., side scenes from previous events, linchpins and other points of divergence, everyday issues with peculiar developments in nether-England, and poetic forms (especially British or African ones) 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 get listed on the Serial Poetry page.
Fly Free

Poem: "Blowing Smoke"

This is today's freebie.  It was inspired by prompts from fabricdragon, siege, and janetmiles.  I was also thinking of rude joke about making anything "steampunk" by putting gratuitous gears on it.  Also, the cube is real.

Blowing Smoke

Steamsmiths were all a bit mad.
It was something that everyone agreed upon
(at least, everyone who was not a steamsmith)
so that the question was not whether
but how  mad a given steamsmith was.

The Steamsmith Guild lounge
held plenty of examples,
but the one everyone always pointed to
was Old Henry, who had occupied
a seat in the southeast corner for decades,
grumbling about his wife and smoking his pipe.

Old Henry was convinced
that smoke could be used in alchemy.
He had learnt to construct cubical soap bubbles
and blow them full of smoke,
although he had not quite got the hang of
blowing square smoke rings.

Maryam liked the dotty old bloke
because he never made fun of anyone else's experiments,
not even the time she lost control of a reaction
early in her apprenticeship
and went about without eyebrows for several weeks.

He was the first to welcome her
into the Steamsmith Guild,
and even into the lounge --
which had essentially been a gentlemen's club
until Maryam earned her membership --
which recognition she would never forget.

She had fetched drinks for both of them,
and ignored the snide mutters about how
anyone could see that her mother was a maid
and maybe there was a use for a woman in here after all.

Old Henry just grinned at her,
a twinkle in his mad blue eyes, and said,
"Never you worry about what people think, Maryam.
When you're right, you can just tell them
to put that in their pipe and smoke it."

Maryam wondered
if anyone else had even noticed that
the old man changed his pipe at least twice a year,
or that the current model
had gears  on it.