November 6th, 2012


Election Hotlines

Here are some numbers to call if you (or someone else) have problems with trying to vote:

National Election Protection Hotline (1-866-OUR-VOTE)
Spanish: 1-888-VE-Y-VOTA (1-888-839-8682)
Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean, Vietnamese and Thai, 1-888-API-VOTE (1-888-274-8683)

NAACP National Voter Empowerment Hotline: 1-866-MyVote1 (1-866-698-6831)

The ACLU hotline number is (804) 644-8080. Emails sent to acluva[at] will also be answered.

Your regularly scheduled Poetry Fishbowl will commence after I've done my part to make the world a better place.

Poetry Fishbowl Open!

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

Starting now, the Poetry Fishbowl is open!  Today's theme is "influential women."  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 "The Four Maras" (Kung Fu Robots, 16 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 "influential women." 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.  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.  dreamwriters 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.  "The Four Maras" belongs to the series Kung Fu Robots and has 16 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 $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 "influential women."  I'm soliciting ideas for queens, women in science, heras, women in literature, historic and mythic figures, people who love them, symbols of women's power, tools women use, things that women have appropriated from men (or vice versa), historic locations discovered or made famous by women, battlegrounds where women won, the palaces of queens or empresses, important discoveries made by women, women's contributions to literature, historic events that women influenced, 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 "The Four Maras.") The rest of the poems will go into my archive for magazine submission.
Fly Free

Poem: "On Whose Shoulders"

This is the freebie for today's fishbowl, prompted by jenny_evergreen and janetmiles.

On Whose Shoulders

She it is
who brings forth life,
who makes a marriage into a family.

She it is
who creates a crack
wide enough to let in a new soul,
forcing the breach wide with her own body
and sealing the bond with her heart's strength.

She it is
who mothers whomever comes
through her flesh into her presence,
sheltering her children against the world's blows
and grinding their grain with her endless hours of work.

She it is
who shapes both
the women her daughters become
and the women her sons will desire,
all made in their mother's image
and all living within her influence,
on whose shoulders the world truly rests.

For her,
death is but another birth;
she has been here before
and remembers the rhythm well.

For her,
Charon calls no coin;
Cerberus lowers his three heads
and is told, "Good dogs,"
her fee already paid,
her right of way undisputed.

For her,
Sisyphus sets his stone aside;
Atlas frees one hand from holding the world
and does not shrug at her approach;

together they pull wide
the heavy gates of Elysium
and bow her into paradise.


Poem: "A Quiet Fame"

This poem relates to one of my own personal patrons, Hypatia of Alexandria.  It has been sponsored by kestrels_nest.

A Quiet Fame

There are not so many
who know the name
of Hypatia of Alexandria.

She is a scholar's hidden hera,
a tomboy's twirling muse,
a misogynist's nameless nightmare.

She was a librarian, a teacher,
a mathematician, an astronomer --
a woman who dared to scale the walls
of the ivory tower defended by men.

It is no wonder
that she was so feared,
that she was so martyred.

It has done them no good whatsoever,
try though they might to tread on her hem;
it has not halted her progress in the slightest
nor left her wanting for protégées.

Hers is a quiet fame,
no louder than
a whisper in the stacks.

She is not the kind of hera
who dances in the streets
with her enemy's head on a stick.

Hers is the sly knife of ideas
slipped between the ribs of ignorance.

Hers is the murmur in a girl's ear,
Come here and learn, little sister.
Math is not so hard as the boys say.
Come here and look, little sister.
You too can seek for the stars

They follow her still, their wee bare feet
pressing signs into the dust of the hosts of heaven.