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The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
Poetry Fishbowl Is Open!
Starting now, the Poetry Fishbowl is open! 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.

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. I invite people to suggest characters, settings, and other things relating to that theme. Then I use those prompts as inspiration for writing poems. Today's theme is "nature."

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) 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.

3) 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. Details are here.

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.

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 whose eddresses I already have. If you want to see the poem inspired by your prompt, give me your eddress; I recommend using {at} and {dot} to discourage spammers. 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.

Feed the Fish!

Now's your chance to participate in the creative process by posting ideas for me to write about. For today's nature theme, I am especially looking for:

  • characters

  • scenic places

  • natural events

  • wildlife

  • and poetic forms

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. The rest will go into my archive for magazine submission.

Tags: , , , ,
Current Mood: busy busy

31 comments or Leave a comment
flutterbychild From: flutterbychild Date: July 8th, 2008 04:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
sunshine; free verse

I really like this fishbowl idea BTW...
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: July 8th, 2008 05:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
Okay, I combined these with ellenmillion's prompt about thunderstorms. The result is "Thunderfist," a free verse poem using the extended metaphor of clouds as the sky's fist. It's evocative, but with an ominous edge.

18 lines, Buy It Now: $10
ellenmillion From: ellenmillion Date: July 8th, 2008 05:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
Because there was one last night: thunderstorms
stonetalker From: stonetalker Date: July 8th, 2008 05:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
# characters The leaves on the trees talking to each other.

# scenic places A forest under threat.

# natural events A storm or a fire.

# wildlife The birds living in the trees.

# and poetic forms Sonnet (because I'm an awkward bitch!)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: July 8th, 2008 06:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
I have combined this:
# characters The leaves on the trees talking to each other.
with flutterbychild's prompt about sunshine and free verse.

The result is "Leaving Words Out," a poem about the conversations of summer leaves and how, toward the end of the season, they discover the fallen leaves and the idea of flight.

26 lines, Buy It Now: $15
janetmiles From: janetmiles Date: July 8th, 2008 05:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
Scenic places: Iguacu Falls, Brazil (and Paraguay).
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: July 8th, 2008 06:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
Wow! Gorgeous place. I combined this with stonetalker's "birds" idea and flutterbychild's "free verse." The result is "Her Verdant Skirts," a description of the jungle as a well-dressed woman standing above mere humans.

22 lines, Buy It Now: $10
(Deleted comment)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: July 8th, 2008 07:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
I put this together with stonetalker's "sonnet" prompt. "Tidepiece" likens the cycle of tides to a clock, and considers the human relationship with the ocean.

14 lines, Buy It Now: $10
From: minor_architect Date: July 8th, 2008 05:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
How about the Namba Parks in Osaka, Japan? More photos and a description of the project lie behind the link but here's a teaser:

ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: July 8th, 2008 07:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
This naturally turned into a haiku about green building.

3 lines, Buy It Now: $5
haikujaguar From: haikujaguar Date: July 8th, 2008 06:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
I love all the photos that wynnsfolly posts, so I'll leave you to choose the one that most appeals...!
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: July 8th, 2008 07:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
I chose this one:

"Moon Bridge" is written in unrhymed triplets, a soft poem about a stone bridge and a desire to reach for the moon.

15 lines, Buy It Now: $10
wyld_dandelyon From: wyld_dandelyon Date: July 8th, 2008 07:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
Liquid sunshine - you know, that moment when the sun is shining brightly, yet the rain is still falling on you.

Or rainbows.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: July 8th, 2008 08:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
This turned into a triolet, "Sungold," in which gold-colored raindrops inspire musings about solar fusion.

8 lines, Buy It Now: $5
moosl From: moosl Date: July 8th, 2008 07:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: July 8th, 2008 08:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
"Alligator Illusions" is a free-verse poem about how these stealthy predators resemble trees. Almost.

12 lines, Buy It Now: $10
cimeara From: cimeara Date: July 8th, 2008 07:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
Suggestions? hmmm...

Characters: a woman going blind; a man with a secret longing

Scenic places: Dimmuborgir fantastical black lava formations or Namafjall steaming sulfur field (both are in Iceland)

Natural evens: a tree falling in the forest; a small body of water (stream, pond) icing over

Wildlife: a shrike; a mosquito

Poetic forms: villanelle; heroic couplets

have fun!

ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: July 8th, 2008 09:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
From this I got "Older Princes Still," a poem written in heroic couplets about the archetypal glory of nature. I'm going to post this one separately so everyone can see it.
dianavilliers From: dianavilliers Date: July 8th, 2008 09:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
Decisions, decisions!
I give you Rotoiti
and the Seaward Kaikouras .
I link you to my journal in the second case, because of the discussion of the underlying geology. Enjoy.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: July 8th, 2008 09:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
Beautiful scenery! From this I derived "The Beaches of Kaikoura," a free-verse poem about the enduring intricacy of landscapes and how little they think of us.

24 lines, Buy It Now: $10
stonetalker From: stonetalker Date: July 9th, 2008 12:12 am (UTC) (Link)


Ysabetwordsmith has asked me to post that we have had storms in our area of the country. She is without electricity and has thus had to suspend the fishbowl for the time being.

(Ysabet, I hope I posted this in the right place, I am still learning how to use LJ!)
dianavilliers From: dianavilliers Date: July 9th, 2008 01:17 am (UTC) (Link)


You did good. Message recieved and understood. :)
talithakalago From: talithakalago Date: July 9th, 2008 04:34 am (UTC) (Link)
Hope I'm not too late!

Character: And old man.
From: (Anonymous) Date: August 2nd, 2008 11:50 pm (UTC) (Link)

Just wanted to say

Tahnks for posting
31 comments or Leave a comment