June 4th, 2019


Poetry Fishbowl Open!

The Poetry Fishbowl is now CLOSED.  Thank you for your time and attention.  Please keep an eye on this page as I am still writing.

Starting now, the Poetry Fishbowl is open!  Today's theme is "oaths and promises."  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.

Among my more relevant series:

Fiorenza the Wisewoman features people in charge of a village, such as its priest and its wisewoman.

One God's Story of Mid-Life Crisis includes promises between the God of Drunks and his followers.

Path of the Paladins is all about vocations, a bond between god/dess and followers.

Polychrome Heroics has some characters, like Hefty and Fiddlesticks, who have pledged to watch over a certain area. (I have hinted at, but not written out, their foursquare marriage in Utah if that interests anyone.) Others have sworn to protect each other, like the Ebonies & Ivories or the Primaries. Some have promised service to another, like Seth to the whales, or minions to their chosen master/mistress. Sometimes there is a sworn goal, like Shiv trying to go six months without getting arrested again, which I've mentioned but not written out.

The Steamsmith has guilds and clubs with oaths.

Or you can ask for something new.

Currently eligible bingo card(s) for donors wishing to sponsor a square:
Cottoncandy Bingo Card 6-1-19

Click to read the linkback poem "May Everything" (7 verses, standalone).

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 "oaths and promises." 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.  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 Dreamwidth, other blog, Twitter, Facebook, 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.  Comment with a link to where you posted.  "May Everything" has 7 verses and stands alone.

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; four of these activates the perk, and they don't have to be four 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, there will be a half-price sale in one series.

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 "oaths and promises." I'll be soliciting ideas for spouses, gang or club members, clergy, deities and followers, soldiers, minions and masters/mistresses, apprentices, tops and bottoms, beat partners, counselors, superheroes, supervillains, other people who make promises, choosing partners, making promises, breaking promises, enforcing oaths, exploring new discoveries, creating connections, counseling, coming of age, learning what you can (and can't) do, recovering from setbacks, courtrooms, churches, military bases, supervillain lairs, kink clubs, police stations, counseling clinics, public institutions, other places where people make oaths, apprenticeship, free will, oaths and promises, personal growth, loyalty, commitment, vocation, public service, determination, imprint vulnerability, failure, success, rites of passage, bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, dominance fights, 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, and additional perks at $100-$300 in donations.  Linkbacks reveal verses of "May Everything."  The rest of the poems will go into my archive for future use.

Poem: "In Her Honor"

Today's freebie was inspired by [personal profile] starbit. It also fills the "Lead / Follow" square in my 6-1-19 card for the Cottoncandy Bingo fest.

"In Her Honor"

The queen rises from her throne,
her gown of ivory silk glittering
with belt and trim in cloth-of-gold,
her crown like a circlet of stars
over the sun-gold of her hair.

The young man kneels before her
and swears fealty to fight in her honor.

The queen takes up her sword
and taps the slender blade on
his shoulders, steel chiming
against chain mail, its edge
no more than a finger's flick
from the soft skin of his throat.

The queen sheathes her sword,
and then the knight rises,
already eager to serve.

In all the battles to come,
he will remember this moment,
and her embodiment of heaven's grace:

that gentleness is controlled strength.

* * *


The Accolade is a famous painting.

Oaths of fealty have evolved over time.  In the medieval period, knights customarily swore fealty to a liege in exchange for land and privileges.

Gentleness is controlled strength.  This is not just a virtue, but also a foundation of dominance theory.  If submitting gains the subordinate nothing beyond not getting killed, it holds little benefit and will be abandoned as soon as a better opportunity arises.  This makes the relationship unstable for both parties.  If the dominant treats the subordinate well, and bestows a portion of resources, the relationship then becomes much more mutually beneficial and stable.  Swearing fealty gained the knight social status (and thus better mate selection), a patch of land, and other resources; it gained the liege a fighter on the field, a supporter in court, and a land manager.  This was altogether a better deal for everyone, so long as both resisted the temptation to stir trouble in attempt to grab more resources.

Fly Free

Poem: "May Everything"

This is the linkback perk for today's Poetry Fishbowl. It was written outside the regular prompt calls. It fills the "Eight of Vessels - Rebirth" square in my 4-30-19 card for the Tarot Bingo fest. Comment that you have boosted the signal for the fishbowl to reveal a verse.

"May Everything"

Late spring,
and the rains
have brought life.

On the barren ground
comes a surge of rebirth,
anticipated and brilliant.

A raw black patch of dirt
swarms with sudden leaves.

The spackle of round flecks
is the first sign of clover.

After it, grass sprouts
like green pins.

[To be continued ...]