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Poetry Fishbowl Open! - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
Poetry Fishbowl Open!
The Poetry Fishbowl is now CLOSED.  Thank you all for your time and attention.

Starting now, the Poetry Fishbowl is open!  Today's theme is "anti-heroes and anti-villains."  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.

Everybody understands the basic roles of hero and villain.  Think of the pure classic versions as far points on a spectrum.  Moving from villain toward hero, you find the anti-hero: someone who does good things (often this requires some pushing) but has the personality of a rascal.  Han Solo is a popular example.  Now coming from the villain side of the scale and moving toward hero, there is logically another point that is often ignored, the anti-villain: someone who does evil things, or at least things opposed to the protagonist's goal, but has the personality of a gentleman and deals honorably with his enemies.  Magneto is a favorite.  So anything dealing with shades of gray is relevant.

Watch for the linkbacks perk to go live.  Click to read "Signs Along the Way" (Sort Of Heroes, 17 verses) or notify minor_architect of linkbacks to reveal more 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 "anti-heroes and anti-villains." 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! -- This progress meter shows the amount donated.  There are multiple perks, the top one being a half-price sale on poetry from one series when donations reach $300.

$305 raised, top 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.  "Signs Along the Way" belongs to the Sort Of Heroes series and has 17 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 "anti-heroes and anti-villains."  I'll be soliciting ideas for heroic or villainous characters who don't quite fit their roles, classic heroes or villains remade, interesting victims and bystanders, spies, traitors, doomsday machines, magical artifacts, uniforms and other outfits, macguffins to fight over, exciting fight venues like the tops of trains, goals and conflicts, love interests, hate interests, what causes someone to switch allegiance, certain death, moral dilemmas, double or triple crosses, archetypes, 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 other perks from $100-$300 in donations.  Linkbacks reveal verses of "Signs Along the Way.") The rest of the poems will go into my archive for magazine submission.

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Current Mood: creative creative

35 comments or Leave a comment
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ellenmillion From: ellenmillion Date: May 1st, 2012 05:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
Does Alaaffi from "Without Fail" qualify as an anti-villain? I'd like to see more of him... and of some of the other Wavebiter characters.

Oranaan probably fits the bill as an anti-hero. :P

Oo... Stormy from Forbidden Love is probably an anti-villain by some definitions... did he outlive Gludara?

(I clearly have Torn World and sea monsters on the brain)

Some generic prompts:

Fighting destiny
Pausing on the Path
The importance of reputation

ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: May 1st, 2012 08:02 pm (UTC) (Link)


Alaaffi appears in "Fishhooks and Memories," which I've posted as today's freebie.
the_vulture From: the_vulture Date: May 1st, 2012 05:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
"I am Einon, paladin of Barzay,"
he said solemnly.
"I have not been easy with all things
that my god has asked of me."

From the poem, "Knell", in ysabetwordsmith's "Path of Palladins" series: http://ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com/2238632.html

Edit: Oh, and perhaps an appearance by Brod and Nib! (From ysabetwordsmith's "Sort of Heroes" series - very appropriate for this Fishbowl theme, methinks)

Edit the Second: Oops! I just discovered that Brod and Nib are featured in the link back poem. My bad.

Edited at 2012-05-01 06:33 pm (UTC)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: May 1st, 2012 09:51 pm (UTC) (Link)


From the prompt about Einar, I got the free-verse poem "Uneasy Things." Einar and Johan meet in a market where Einar is selling off his ready stock and some secondhand goods. Among the things they talk about are their experiences with less than respectable orders. And sometimes, things that were lost may be found again, all unlooked for.

200 lines, available after "Storm Wrack" is complete

Edited at 2012-05-02 03:49 am (UTC)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: May 1st, 2012 05:52 pm (UTC) (Link)


siege left a backchannel prompt about patience and a craftsman. This led to "The Craftsman's Cause," a free-verse poem in which the proprietor of an adventuring supply shop deals with customers of various moral persuasions.

70 lines, Buy It Now = $35
rix_scaedu From: rix_scaedu Date: May 1st, 2012 05:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
The villain whose (vile) deeds are aimed at saving the world from the certain destruction that will result from the (good) deeds of the heroes.

All done for love.

History is written by the winners, the survivors and whoever gets the ear of the bard or the penny dreadful writer.

siege From: siege Date: May 1st, 2012 10:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
Your first prompt reminds me that there are people right now who are engaged in the business of initiating the Christian Rapture -- by summoning the Beast! Not that this will work out for anyone, including them: "No-one may know the hour or day of His coming." (And Jesus is supposed to arrive and rapture everyone before the Beast takes over! Followed by tribulations and whatnot.) This is also a justification for creating and preserving the landed nation called Israel: the nation has to exist in order to make certain Biblical prophesies accurate.
From: minor_architect Date: May 1st, 2012 06:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
The linkbacks perk post is now live! http://minor-architect.livejournal.com/181021.html

Sorry for the delay; this is what happens when you've suffered through a week of insomnia. :-P
kelkyag From: kelkyag Date: May 1st, 2012 07:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
Nib and Brod, and/or Taro and Hicket.

The bogeyman from Monster House. How do his obligations as what-he-is interact with his inclinations and preferences for the shape of the world?

Maturing from obnoxious brat to snarky hero.

Learning that the person or group one is sworn to no longer is -- or perhaps never was -- anywhere near as virtuous as one believed.

Discovering that one's childhood hero is only human, warts and all.

Assassin as protagonist.

The save-the-world plot and the rule-the-world plot team up to stop the destroy-the-world plot. (Weirdshit spy genre alt: the CIA and the KGB will work together to stop Cthulhu.)

The princess hired the dragon to guard her tower so that people stop interrupting her work.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: May 1st, 2012 11:15 pm (UTC) (Link)


The henchmen Taro and Hicket reappear in "The Fading Tower," a free-verse poem about their arrival at the Tourmaline Tower to apply for work with the Myrklord. In the rain, of course.

98 lines, Buy It Now = $49
From: siliconshaman Date: May 1st, 2012 07:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hmm, seems like a paladin of the war god in Path of the Paladins would be an anti-villian...

Mind you, I've always wondered what the classic D&D Dark Lord, would do if he decided to chuck it all in and try to be good... couldn't be easy I'd imagine, what with all those minions not quite getting the idea and still needing a job etc. ["It's so hard to get Good help these days!"]
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: May 2nd, 2012 06:29 am (UTC) (Link)


From your prompt about the dark lord, I got the free-verse poem "Good Help Is Hard to Find." Shaeth, God of Evil, grows bored with destruction and quits his position. But nobody wants him around, he doesn't have any other skills, and he fails utterly to teach his followers anything new. He's not the only one lost in the woods, though...

116 lines, Buy It Now = $58
janetmiles From: janetmiles Date: May 1st, 2012 10:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
Is lawful evil always a villain? Is chaotic good heroic?

How is Horace the porcupine doing?
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: May 2nd, 2012 07:13 am (UTC) (Link)


The prompt about lawful evil and chaotic good tied in neatly with Nib and Brod's efforts to discover what heroism really is. "Balancing In Action" touches on some previous thoughts about the local power dynamics and then adds some crackpots with more ideals than sense.

60 lines, Buy It Now = $20
siege From: siege Date: May 1st, 2012 11:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
There's a reasonably common trope in comics and anime where the hero's origin story includes a shady agency (usually government sponsored) that performs horrible and usually painful experiments on people in order to produce a super-soldier or other weaponized person that they might be able to control.

Aside from the obvious megalomania, what sort of justification is there for such a thing? And are the people working there actually bad people?
fatfred From: fatfred Date: May 2nd, 2012 12:03 am (UTC) (Link)

Here from Janetmiles...

Is Sherlock an anti hero?

"Don't make people into heroes John. Heroes don't exist and if they did I wouldn't be one of them. "

To Moriarty: “You want me to shake hands with you in hell, I shall not disappoint you,”

ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: May 2nd, 2012 01:15 am (UTC) (Link)


From this I got "The Hero's Hidden Face," which I've posted as today's second freebie:
laffingkat From: laffingkat Date: May 2nd, 2012 12:56 am (UTC) (Link)
I've found that those who join the military expecting to be heroes and save democracy often have different feelings after experiencing live combat.

In other news, "anarchists" dressed in black ruined May Day protests in Seattle with vandalism and violence. Some of the folks attacking the Niketown shop were wearing Nikes. Debates have been raging over whether they met beforehand over lattes at Starbucks.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: May 2nd, 2012 07:38 am (UTC) (Link)


Your prompt about the changing expectations of soldiers before and after their first battle led to the free-verse poem "Fucking For Virginity." It follows a process of discovering how war destroys not just out peace but inner peace, and draws on some experiences mentioned by returning soldiers. The title comes from a popular protest slogan.

35 lines, Buy It Now = $15
kitrona From: kitrona Date: May 2nd, 2012 01:11 am (UTC) (Link)
If this is still open, I'd like to suggest something about Loki. The real Loki, not the Marvel reinterpretation or him as a supposed stand-in for the Christian devil. The Loki who really does love his brother and is adopted from the Vanir (I think? Not sure if that's right) and is the god of magic and fire and isn't a bad guy, just seriously misunderstood.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: May 2nd, 2012 02:04 am (UTC) (Link)


Out of Norse mythology comes the poem "A Few Words About Loki." It's a glossary of historic terms with tongue-in-cheek definitions, written in unrhymed triplets.

30 lines, Buy It Now = $15
rowyn From: rowyn Date: May 2nd, 2012 03:48 am (UTC) (Link)
The mercenary who keeps meaning to be selfish and greedy, but every time he runs into someone really in trouble, he can't stop himself from helping them out.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: May 2nd, 2012 08:51 am (UTC) (Link)


"Swimming Against the Tide" is a free-verse poem from Path of the Paladins. Your hapless mercenary finds himself kicked out of Gorrein's employ by an evil paladin for behaving like a decent human being. Well, that's awkward...

Available after "Storm Wrack" is complete.

Edited at 2012-05-02 08:57 am (UTC)
wyld_dandelyon From: wyld_dandelyon Date: May 2nd, 2012 04:39 am (UTC) (Link)
I bet some of the monsters in Monster House could qualify as anti-heroes.

That paladin of an unpleasant deity sounds like an antivillain to me.

Cats could be either or both.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: May 2nd, 2012 08:53 am (UTC) (Link)


See above, "Swimming Against the Tide."
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: May 2nd, 2012 04:56 am (UTC) (Link)


From the Dreamwidth post came a prompt by Avia and then this:

Your prompt about species survival conflicts between humans and aliens led to "Within the Wolf's Jaws," a free-verse poem. Herein lies one of the greatest tragedies of my main science fiction setting, when human starfarers crashland on an alien planet and come into conflict with the natives. When peace falls, war rises; and when war falls, only sacrifice remains.

226 lines, Buy It Now = $113
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