Starting now, the Poetry Fishbowl is open! Today's theme is "modern myths." 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.
Click to read "In the Line of Duty" (The Clockwork War, 16 verses) or notify me of linkbacks to reveal more verses. (No volunteer, so I'm stuck posting it myself.)
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 "modern myths." I invite people to suggest characters, settings, and other things relating to that theme. Then I use those prompts as inspiration for writing poems.
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. There are multiple perks, the top one being a half-price poetry sale on one series when donations reach $300.
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. "In the Line of Duty" belongs to The Clockwork War series and has 16 verses.
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 $100 by Friday evening then you get a free $15 poem; $150 gets you a free $20 poem; and $200 gets you a free epic, posted after the Poetry Fishbowl. These will usually be series poems if I have them; otherwise I may offer non-series poems or series poems in a different size. If donations reach $250, you get one step toward a bonus fishbowl; three of these activates the perk, and they don't have to be three months in a row. Everyone will get to vote on which series, and give prompts during the extra fishbowl, although it may be a half-day rather than a whole day. If donations reach $300, you get a half-price sale for one week in one series. Everyone will get to vote on which series to feature in the sale, out of those with extra poems available.
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 "modern myths." I'll be soliciting ideas for heroic figures, mythologists, archetypes, iconic objects, tools and weapons, famous jewels, symbolic locations, places that give rise to their own mythology, mythic plotlines, events that turn into stories, concepts that grow so huge they become a significant part of the culture, modern ideas not really covered by historic myths, 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, and additional perks at $100-$300 in donations. Linkbacks reveal verses of "In the Line of Duty.") The rest of the poems will go into my archive for magazine submission.
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Roberto wears a green baseball cap
turned backward with the bill over his neck.
A stolen smartphone hides
deep in the pocket of his jeans.
He hacks through firewalls
yet never sets his tail alight.
He is more than a ghost in the machine,
sly fox slipping through the cyber forests
stealing the golden eggs from under unsuspecting geese.
Roberto walks through the 'hood
"You don't need to worry about that bill no more.
It's all taken care of now."
Far behind him,
the old gray geese
begin to squawk up a storm.
This poem was inspired and sponsored by the_vulture. It's based on the National Enquirer and other tabloids, a famous source of modern myths. (As another example of such spinoffs, I highly recommend the book Mirabile by Janet Kagan.)
The tabloids have all the news
that's not fit to print, sordid stories
of celebrity love affairs and cryptobiology
(sometimes in the same feature).
Bat Boy Lives!
Duck Hunters Shoot Angel!
Bigfoot Kept Lumberjack as Love Slave!
Elvis Had My Baby On An Alien Spaceship!
Is mythology dead or alive?
Enquiring minds want to know.
We ventured to the bottom of the ocean
and found that the Marianas Trench
contained no kraken.
We built the Large Hadron Collider
and caught a glimpse of the Higgs boson,
but God did not appear along with the particle.
We sent a buggy to Mars, lowered it from a sky crane,
but the final frontier danced away, laughing,
ankle bells jingling just out of reach.
Do not despair!
Myth is not metal but mist,
infinitely compressible, expandable, malleable.
It swirls around us as we move through the world,
teasing, revealing new secrets only to stymie us
with the return of questions we thought resolved.
At night, in dreams, the kraken's arms embrace us,
God whispers the answers to our prayers,
and the final frontier does lap dances.