March 6th, 2012


Poetry Fishbowl Open!

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

Starting now, the Poetry Fishbowl is open!  Today's theme is "commoner heroes and second fiddles."  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 "Marchesa Micia" (Fiorenza the Wisewoman, 20 verses) or notify minor_architect of linkbacks to reveal more verses.

NEW: Twitter users, please add #promptcall along with #poetryfishbowl when tweeting about this event.  It's a new hashtag that crowdfunders are trying to establish for the convenience of people who like to leave prompts.

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 "commoner heroes and second fiddles." 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 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; at $250 you get another free series poem.

$291 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.  Useful Twitter hashtags include #poetryfishbowl and #promptcall.  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.  "Marchesa Micia" belongs to the Fiorenza the Wisewoman series and has 20 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 recent 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.  At $250 you get another free series 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 "commoner heroes and second fiddles."  I'll be soliciting ideas for heroic commoners, doomed heroes, sidekicks, backup and reserves, innocent bystanders, artifacts for non-heroes, heroic artifacts in non-heroic hands, situations in which a hero is helpless but others are not, plot twists where the favorite gets killed right out of the gate, instances where no hero is available at all, everyday locations for momentous events, terrain as a plot hazard, 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+, a series fishbowl  if donations reach $200, and a second free series poem  at $250.  Linkbacks reveal verses of "Marchesa Micia.") The rest of the poems will go into my archive for magazine submission.

Linkback Poem: "Marchesa Micia"

The linkback poem "Marchesa Micia" (Fiorenza the Wisewoman, 20 verses) is now open, courtesy of minor_architect.  If you're boosting the signal for the March 6, 2012 Poetry Fishbowl, please go to the linkback page and notify her where you did that.  The linkback poem is free for everyone to read, posted a verse at a time for each link that people make to the fishbowl.  Thank you for your support!

[EDIT 3/6/12 at 10 PM] We're at 10 verses now, which is halfway through the poem. Things are getting exciting! Keep the links coming.
Fly Free

Poem: "Heel to Toe"

This is today's freebie.  It was inspired by a prompt from moon_fox.

Heel to Toe

The fairy queen's daughter
was born with her feet on backwards,
marked as all the fey were marked
with some difference from mortal kind.

No one thought anything of it
until she grew old enough to walk
but could not learn.
They tried one thing and then another,
but nothing worked.

All the court despaired,
until two brownies said,
"Why not take the princess to our human?
He is very kind, and an accomplished cobbler."

"Will he not give you clothes and drive you away,
if he knows there are fairies about?" asked the queen.
The brownies only laughed.  "He already knows,"
they said.  "He leaves us bread and milk,
and on Sundays, a bit of honey."

So the fairy queen took her daughter
to the cobbler's shop.
The cobbler hummed over her peculiar feet,
and measured them three times
to make sure all his figures were right.
Then he worked out a pattern to support her ankles
while letting the sole flex properly.

The fairy queen waited,
toddler in her lap,
while the special shoes were made.
Then the princess was all laced up
and placed on the smooth wooden floor.

The cobbler held her chubby hands
and guided her through the first few steps
as she learned how to walk, heel to toe,
a little different from everyone else
but well enough to cover the distance.

Then the cobbler turned loose and said,
"Go to mummy!"
and the princess tottered three steps before
toppling forward to catch herself on the queen's skirt.

The fairy queen gave him a gold coin
and promised to return
when the princess needed new shoes.
The cobbler agreed,
and took himself off to bed.

The brownies looked at each other.
"Princess, nothing!" the first exclaimed.
"Once the court ladies see those shoes,
everyone will want a pair for the next ball."
"Yes," the second replied, "we had better
order more leather for our cobbler."
And so they did.