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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 enthusiasm.

Starting now, the Poetry Fishbowl is open!  Today's theme is "mature and old adults."   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.

Watch for the linkbacks perk to go live.  Click to read "Alien In-Laws" (Starfather, 22 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 "mature and old adults."  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.  thesilentpoet   has volunteered to host 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.  "Alien In-Laws" belongs to the series Starfather and has 22 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 piece of bonus material for a 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 "mature and old adults."  I'll be soliciting ideas for middle-aged characters, seniors, their descendants, their friends, objects associated with maturity, signs of respect, places where mature or senior people congregate, unexpected places to find older folks, societies in which elders are honored, societies that are falling apart because elders are NOT honored, ways in which elders solve problems differently than younger people, challenges particular to mature or senior adults, how resources change as one ages, dealing gracefully with old age, beating old age over the head with a stick instead, ways in which mature or older bodies are beautiful, 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 "Alien In-Laws.") The rest of the poems will go into my archive for magazine submission.

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45 comments or Leave a comment
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From: technoshaman Date: February 5th, 2013 05:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
Somebody recently made a rude comment to a newly single friend, "nobody's going to want a girl with a four-year-old." I happen to know that's not the case... but perhaps not everyone does.
thesilentpoet From: thesilentpoet Date: February 5th, 2013 06:01 pm (UTC) (Link)

... people never cease to amaze me.
thesilentpoet From: thesilentpoet Date: February 5th, 2013 06:00 pm (UTC) (Link)

I'd love see the grandmother from Monster House during her studies in the vortex-world.

I'd also love to see your take on Gilbert Rome (from my '64-squared series). I can message you more information on him.

And finally, in googling 'mature adults', most results are porn. How might today's youth interpret this? How might this change in the future?
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 5th, 2013 07:02 pm (UTC) (Link)


For "mature adults" see below the thumbnail of "Jumbo Shrimp and Other Oxymorons."

Also, go ahead and tell me more about Gilbert Rome; I may get to him if I have time.
e_scapism101 From: e_scapism101 Date: February 5th, 2013 06:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
Falling in love again in old age, after widowhood.

The oldest person in Fiorenza's village and how s/he views Fiorenza's actions.

Something at Hart's Farm that can only be settled by the elders.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 5th, 2013 08:03 pm (UTC) (Link)


I direct your attention to "Sorrow Like the Taste of Rain" above, which is about a widow and love, although not about falling in love, and she turned out to be middle-aged rather than elderly.
aldersprig From: aldersprig Date: February 5th, 2013 06:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
e_scapism101 already covered this a little, but:

It was neat in my church when two of my friends' grandparents started dating, and eventually married.

Ever read Oversoul Seven? There's a nice line in there (Paraphrased) and several in Heinlein that are similar - essentially - we don't like to think of our elders having sex or romance. Nursing homes are segregated by gender, for instance.

Becoming a parent to your grandchildren.

Second careers. Second childhoods. Empty Nesting.

My dad turned my bedroom into a massage parlour when I moved out.

Seasoned veteran explorers.

Choosing to take on a very low-responsibility position after having been high management.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 5th, 2013 07:01 pm (UTC) (Link)


From your prompts I got the free-verse poem "Jumbo Shrimp and Other Oxymorons," about mature adults and senior citizens who don't seem to behave in concert with conventional expectations of mature or citizens. Interestingly, although this could apply just fine to modern times ... it also neatly matches the beginning of the Conservancy in my main science fiction setting.

35 lines, Buy It Now = $15
rix_scaedu From: rix_scaedu Date: February 5th, 2013 06:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
The elder knight.

Mature beauty.

ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 6th, 2013 07:33 am (UTC) (Link)


Your prompt about elder knights paired with some by Chordatesrock about paladins, leading to the free-verse poem "The Course the War Has Taken" in Path of the Paladins. Ari listens to the elders, and muses about the past, and wonders about the future.

54 lines, Buy It Now = $20
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 5th, 2013 06:39 pm (UTC) (Link)


Offline prompts via Shirley Barrette inspired the free-verse poem "A Leaf Falls," which I've posted as today's freebie.
janetmiles From: janetmiles Date: February 5th, 2013 07:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
Kethry once said, "Why do we have to get old? Why can't we just stay twenty until we fall over?"

Related to that, "I’ll concede the possibility that I might extend the period of my existence by exercising more and by eating less and eating more healthily. However, the utility of extending the period of one’s existence by increasing one’s (unwanted) discomfort and depriving oneself of pleasure is something of which I’m not convinced. And since tomorrow is promised to no one, not even the healthy, I don’t choose to live my life with less pleasure in the hope that by doing so I might live longer (what was the name of the character in _Catch-22_ who sought out the most boring tasks so he’d live longer?). Should I be run down by a bus, I want it to be after eating lasagna and cheesecake, not tofu." -- Ancient Kung Foole Proverb by Steven S. Davis

My argument against "intelligent design" is the human knee and the way it stops working as one gets older.

Shaped verse -- increasing and decreasing lines -- feels like an apt metaphor for human life.

Some years ago, a former manager had to have the safer sex discussion with her elderly father, when he moved into an assisted living community.

The sandwich generation, where people are finding themselves more and more often caring for both their own children and their aging parents.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 6th, 2013 03:21 am (UTC) (Link)


minor_architect also wanted to see something about the sandwich generation, so I went with that. It also got me thinking about the destruction of Shaunaka in "The Janardanakavita," how refugees are often flung together with little regard for family ties. Here, then, is the free-verse poem "Carrying the Sea and the Sky," in which one almost-able-bodied man does what he can to care for two old men and two little girls, only one of whom is actually related to him.

108 lines, Buy It Now = $54
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 5th, 2013 07:19 pm (UTC) (Link)


An early prompt from Dreamwidth user Chordatesrock inspired the free-verse poem "Transplanting Gramps," which explores why an elderly man would choose to move to the Lacuna when he has little in common with the folks who already live there.

45 lines, Buy It Now = $20
ellenmillion From: ellenmillion Date: February 5th, 2013 07:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
Losing one's skills... and maybe finding a new one.

A bucket list

Things that get better with age - cheese, wine, spirits, people...
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 5th, 2013 09:46 pm (UTC) (Link)


From your prompt about cultured foods, I got the poem "Things That Get Better With Age" ... antiques, cheese, scrapbooks, wine, and people. It's written in couplets.

10 lines, Buy It Now = $5
moonwolf1988 From: moonwolf1988 Date: February 5th, 2013 07:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
Grandparents and their relationships with their grandchildren.

Adults who move in with their parents due to an unexpected situation, such as the end of a relationship.

The oldest creature in the monster house.

A mature dragon.

Being elderly for eternity.

An old king takes the throne of his kingdom.

Edited at 2013-02-05 08:00 pm (UTC)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 5th, 2013 08:23 pm (UTC) (Link)


The prompt about an old king inspired the villanelle "Retaking the Throne." It's a tale of tragedy and sacrifice as he attends to his nation's needs despite his own losses. Have a box of tissues handy before reading this one.

19 lines, Buy It Now = $10
kelkyag From: kelkyag Date: February 5th, 2013 08:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
Grandmother and Mother from Monster House, and their changing relationship as they get older. (And as Grandmother and Granddaughter run into each others not-so-normal aspects. Granddaughter knows about Mother's interesting friends ...)

The little old lady ghost.

Fiorenza's father. Will he stay? Will he go back to sea, and if he does, will he write? What brought him home after so long away?

Maryam's father. He's written; do they see each other in person much?

Nib's family.

Nib and Brod run into an older hero.

Glenta. What's she making, as she knits through services?
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 5th, 2013 11:27 pm (UTC) (Link)


Your prompt about Maryam's father spawned the free-verse poem "Guarding the Change." John and Maryam take a tour of the holdings in Warwickshire, now that it's Maryam serving as Baron Carrington substantial. It's a not-entirely-leisurely trip through some beautiful territory.

110 lines, Buy It Now = $110
wyld_dandelyon From: wyld_dandelyon Date: February 5th, 2013 08:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
Coming of Age

When it's time to let younger folks take over

When it's NOT time to let younger folks take over


New Dreams for Old Folks

Living in the Future
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 5th, 2013 11:27 pm (UTC) (Link)


For younger folks taking over, see "Guarding the Change" above.
my_partner_doug From: my_partner_doug Date: February 5th, 2013 10:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
A culture in which age is so revered, that the mythic quest has been for a Fountain of Elderhood rather than a Fountain of Youth.

The problems one runs into upon discovering such a shortcut.

Being reincarnated into such a society, with a full recollection of *all* of one's past lifetimes and accrued wisdom -- and the difficulties such an old soul would encounter when said young whippersnapper attempted to utilize their rightly-owned experience in a role reserved for those less chronologically challenged.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 6th, 2013 12:17 am (UTC) (Link)


From your quest prompt came the poem "The Fountain of Age," a cautionary tale about trying to assume wisdom before one is ready. It's written in unrhymed quintains.

35 lines, Buy It Now = $15
siege From: siege Date: February 5th, 2013 10:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
Maturity and immaturity among the rich and poor

Remembering growing up (as opposed to the immediate experience)

Elders teaching youth
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 5th, 2013 11:28 pm (UTC) (Link)


For maturity and immaturity, see "Guarding the Change" above.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 5th, 2013 11:51 pm (UTC) (Link)


siliconshaman left a prompt on Dreamwidth.

I turned this prompt into the title, "The Silver Horde," and yes it's written in haiku verses. Read about what might have happened if Genghis Khan had not been murdered, and kept control of the army for quite a lot longer.

33 lines, Buy It Now = $15
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