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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 for your time and enthusiasm.

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

Click to read "In the Line of Duty" (The Clockwork War, 16 verses) or notify me of linkbacks to reveal more verses.  (No volunteer, so I'm stuck posting it myself.)

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 "modern myths." 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.  "In the Line of Duty" belongs to The Clockwork War series 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 "modern myths."  I'll be soliciting ideas for heroic figures, mythologists, archetypes, iconic objects, tools and weapons, famous jewels, symbolic locations, places that give rise to their own mythology, mythic plotlines, events that turn into stories, concepts that grow so huge they become a significant part of the culture, modern ideas not really covered by historic myths, 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 "In the Line of Duty.") The rest of the poems will go into my archive for magazine submission.

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68 comments or Leave a comment
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ellenmillion From: ellenmillion Date: August 7th, 2012 06:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
Alligators in the sewers

Modern day Robin Hood

ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 7th, 2012 06:40 pm (UTC) (Link)


The alligator prompt led to the free-verse poem "The Four Fauna of the Apocalypse." It introduces four species that are real threats, but blur the boundaries between real and myth in some way.

20 lines, Buy It Now = $10
(Deleted comment)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 7th, 2012 07:34 pm (UTC) (Link)


From this I got the free-verse poem "Inanna's Underpass," a retelling of the myth in a modern city. In some ways, Erishkegal has a better grip on modern life than Inanna does, and Inanna finds her assets more fragile than expected. It does not go well for Inanna.

74 lines, Buy It Now = $37
the_vulture From: the_vulture Date: August 7th, 2012 07:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
They had goblins; we have...

And, how about the return of Arthur to a modern Britain?

Also, I am disappointed that the Marianas Trench didn't have a kraken.

BTW, I've linked back in both my LJ and DW accounts.

Edited at 2012-08-07 07:48 pm (UTC)
From: rhodielady_47 Date: August 7th, 2012 07:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
"Also, I am disappointed that the Marianas Trench didn't have a kraken."

BTW, the modern name for kraken is kudzu--just ask anyone who's ever lived in Mississippi!
From: siliconshaman Date: August 7th, 2012 08:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
Pantheons renewed, Hercules reimaged for the modern era. [just what is a strong man nowadays?]

What would a modern Camalot be like...or for that matter, a modern version of the sword in the stone? [and would Arthur even be a man this time?]

Although those are more old myths redressed.... what about modern myths in the making, to whit, actual superheroes, real people fighting real crimes. [dressed in costumes.]
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 7th, 2012 09:02 pm (UTC) (Link)


From the Hercules prompt I extrapolated that heroes, as demigods, become divine and thus choose their own champions as they themselves were once chosen. The result is "Touched By Demigods," written in unrhymed sextets, about modern athletes.

24 lines, Buy It Now = $10
siege From: siege Date: August 7th, 2012 08:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
The gods used to walk among mortals, it is said. Do they still?

What happens when fairies try to navigate the Internet? How about when AIs try to go on astral journeys?

Will we ever have geeks becoming myth and legend outside of their own subcultures?
From: rhodielady_47 Date: August 7th, 2012 08:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
"Will we ever have geeks becoming myth and legend outside of their own subcultures?"

Well, what about a modern Arachne who instead of being a weaver is a modern mistress of the World Wide WEB?
Is that Geeky enough?
From: rhodielady_47 Date: August 7th, 2012 08:41 pm (UTC) (Link)

I do hope I'm not too late to join in!

Modern myths?
What about mythic heroes?
(Do you mind if we stretch the boundaries a tiny bit?)

What about Anne Oakley?
Isn't it about time for her to go steam punk or space-opery?

Mike Fink, the pole boatman of American pre-steamboat fame, needs an overhaul too.

Someone I'd love to see you get your pen on is Julie d'Aubigny (1670–1707), better known as Mademoiselle Maupin or La Maupin. She was a swordswoman and an operasinger. (Check out wikipedia or this website:http://www.badassoftheweek.com/lamaupin.html)

Belle Starr--I am so tired of hearing about Jesse James I could scream, so what about one of his contemporaries?

Check out this wikipedia entry "List of women warriors in folklore" lots of good mythic figures in this. (The Moslem women on this list are awesome!)

Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz of Mexico could definitely become a modern mythic hero.

Nanny of the Maroons--Jamaica's only female national hero.

I can come up with a few more if these don't suit you.
Best of luck with them!

moonwolf1988 From: moonwolf1988 Date: August 7th, 2012 08:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
A pagan gets a surprise when the deity they're praying to appears in front of them.

Troy was never destroyed.

The Atlanteans return.

God/dess of coffee.
From: rhodielady_47 Date: August 7th, 2012 08:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
Goddess of CHOCOLATE!!!!!!!!!!!


ravan From: ravan Date: August 7th, 2012 08:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
Sleeping Beauty, cryogenics, and crooked corporations (insurance companies, doctors, etc), and jealous foster parents - more SF than current. (Bujold's "Cryoburn" could have used this, but the parallel was lost in the story.)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 7th, 2012 10:21 pm (UTC) (Link)


From the Sleeping Beauty prompt I wrote the science fiction fairytale "Thorns of Light, Roses of Fire." Sleeping Beauty meets a prince in an unexpected way, and makes a different selection regarding the direction of her story. This poem is written in free verse.

93 lines, Buy It Now = $46.50
janetmiles From: janetmiles Date: August 7th, 2012 09:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
The Hope diamond.

Archetypes: super heroes, super villains

Symbolic locations: The Fortress of Solitude, the evil mastermind's tropical island or volcano

Concepts becoming part of culture: LOLCat / LOLSpeak
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 7th, 2012 09:24 pm (UTC) (Link)


The prompt about cultural concepts inspired a short but sweet poem, "LOL_Linguistics." A teenager, a parent, a teacher, and a linguist respond to LOLspeak.

4 lines, Buy It Now = $5
From: rhodielady_47 Date: August 7th, 2012 09:02 pm (UTC) (Link)

Oops! I almost left out Asia and the American Indians!

Mouse Woman seems like she'd be a wonderful modern day hero.
(Haida Indian legend)

In Japan there is belief in Fox Women.
(I've always loved the idea of a woman who's part fox and all troublemaker and who's particularly good at getting even with men who dismiss women as being beneath their notice.)

kelkyag From: kelkyag Date: August 7th, 2012 10:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
cargo cults
the Bermuda Triangle
sub-penny rounding thefts
parking gods
programs acquiring sentience

four-dimensional poetry
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 7th, 2012 10:31 pm (UTC) (Link)


"This Is a Four-Dimensional Poem" ... and it's basically just a self-definition.

3 lines, Buy It Now = $5
tomtac From: tomtac Date: August 7th, 2012 10:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'll bite. "heroic figures" ... Something about Superheroes. Real Life Superheroes.


NYC's own superheroes

10 Real-life Superheroes (masks, capes and all!)

World Superhero Registry


ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 8th, 2012 01:30 am (UTC) (Link)


From the superhero prompt I got the free-verse poem "Contemporary Crusaders." It showcases several modern superheroes and the one thing they all have in common.

31 lines, Buy It Now = $15
meeksp From: meeksp Date: August 7th, 2012 11:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
Old gods react to modern depictions of themselves in novels, comics, film, etc.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 8th, 2012 01:51 am (UTC) (Link)


From the prompt about modern depictions of old gods came the free-verse poem "Gods in Review." Herne, Zeus, Thor, and Jesus compare notes on their message as rendered in contemporary culture. Poor guys.

27 lines, Buy It Now = $15
rowyn From: rowyn Date: August 8th, 2012 12:38 am (UTC) (Link)
What would a modern Artemis be hunting?
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 8th, 2012 12:52 am (UTC) (Link)


Artemis hunts the hunters, of course, keeping the wildlife safe from those who kill without regard for the laws of nature. "Moonlight and Muzzles" is written in unrhymed quatrains.

28 lines, Buy It Now = $15
aldersprig From: aldersprig Date: August 8th, 2012 02:00 am (UTC) (Link)
Ack! I almost forgot!

Apologies if I dupe; it's late and you have a lot of comments already!

The Olympians as demi-human

The Rise of the Machine God

The story of the three brothers (they go on a quest, the first two are rude to the old lady, or any variant on that) in a modern city

The land time forgot.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 8th, 2012 02:29 am (UTC) (Link)


Most portrayals show machine as god being a bad thing. But it occurred to me that machines can be very reliable in some ways that human beings often are not, which could be an improvement in the application of religious principles. The result is "The Gods of Sheep and Machines," an indriso.

8 lines, Buy It Now = $5
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