January 24th, 2017


Poetry Fishbowl Open!

The Poetry Fishbowl is now CLOSED.  I am done writing!  \o/  Thank you all for your support and inspiration.

Starting now, the Poetry Fishbowl is open!  Today's theme is "nature."  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.

I'm aiming for two things here: These are intended to be one-shot poems, NOT series installments, so I expect most or all of them to be sub-epics.  This is a chance for those of you who aren't as fond of the series to request things that stand alone, and for those of you without deep pockets to enjoy more modestly priced shopping opportunities.  It's also a perfect time to prompt for short poetic forms.  I'm hoping to keep this to one day's writing, so I can work on my backlog of projects. Technically we have slots open for new epics, but LiveJournal is still malfunctioning and won't let me edit the open epic posts.  I'll let you know when that changes.

If you're not sure what to do with the theme, I recommend plugging it into your favorite search engine and looking for photos or articles that you like.  You're also encouraged to prompt for things in your locale, which should make for a nice variety, since I have fans from around the world.

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 "nature." 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.

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.

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 "nature." I'll be soliciting ideas for  amous naturalists, country folks, city folks who don't like getting nature on them, explorers, people who love wilderness activities, kids running wild, landmarks, habitat types, mountains, forests, rivers, oceans, caves, gardening for wildlife, birdwatching, cloudwatching, stargazing, hiking, rock climbing, kayaking, other outdoor activities, native flora and fauna, natural sciences, cultural tidbits based on nature, Paganism and other nature religions, raw materials, nature crafts, 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 New Book of Forms by Lewis Turco 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: "Not a Desolation"

This is the freebie for today's fishbowl, inspired by [personal profile] mama_kestrel.

"Not a Desolation"

Winter is the inward season,
not a desolation but a gestation.

Filled with seeds, the earth waits
while the sky knits baby blankets of snow.

Frost cracks spiderweb their way
over the frozen landscape like stretch marks.

Does carry fawns in heavy bellies,
waiting for the first green leaves to appear.

Even though it may seem barren,
winter is pregnant with spring.


Poem: "wisteria shade"

This is from today's fishbowl, inspired and sponsored by [personal profile] redsixwing.

"wisteria shade"
-- a tanka

over the clear creek
the bamboo arbor stretches,
wisteria shade
covering the cool water
and, under its surface, fish

* * *


The tanka is a traditional form of Asian poetry.  

Kigo  are words which symbolize the seasons.  Wisteria represents late spring.

Wisteria has a woody, rambling form halfway between a vine and a shrub which produces spectacular festoons of flowers. Learn how to grow it.

An arbor is an arched structure, which may have vines growing over it, often used to separate different areas within a garden.  This combines nicely with a bridge, another transitional feature.  Wisteria is a popular plant for such placements.


Poem: "Second Nature"

This poem from today's fishbowl has been inspired and sponsored by [personal profile] mdlbear.

"Second Nature"

A volcano rises above the waters,
making a new island of smoking stone.

Coming from the crowded sea,
seaweed and coconuts,
fish and shellfish, crabs and birds,
bird-hunting fishermen all arrive.

Uh-oh! The volcano erupts again!

After the smoke clears,
life rebuilds its second nature:

hana aloha.

* * *


Volcanic island formation is a violent process.  Examples of new islands and massive eruptions on older islands helps scientists to understand how species colonize them.  The process of colonization and speciation means that many species in Hawai'i live nowhere else on Earth.

This poem is written in the style of Hawai'ian poetry.  A hallmark of Hawai'ian poetry is repetition, which takes its particular form from the constraints of a language with relatively few phonemes. Partial echoes such as sea/seaweed, fish/shellfish, and birds/bird-hunting are typical of this pattern. Litanies of plants, animals, places, names, etc. also appear in many poems and chants. Nature in general plays a primary role in most traditional Hawai'ian poems.  Check out this Hawai'i Poetry Guide.

Among the letters of the native Hawai'ian language is the 'okina, or glottal stop. It does not appear in the English alphabet, and appears very rarely in English at all -- it is usually left out even with borrowed words. "Uh-oh" is one of the few native English words to incorporate a glottal stop, which helps give this poem Hawai'ian flavor.

Hana  means work, and aloha  means love. Thus, hana aloha  means love work. Originally it referred to a love spell. More recently I have seen it used in a more romantic context, for couples events intended to build a healthy relationship or couples therapy intended to repair a damaged one.  Hana aloha  is the craft of making connections.