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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 support and enthusiasm.

Starting now, the Poetry Fishbowl is open!  Today's theme is "homonyms, puns, and wordplay."  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 "The Voyage to Vaucouleurs" (The Arc of Joan).

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 "homonyms, puns, and wordplay." 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.  "The Voyage to Vaucouleurs" belongs to the series The Arc of Joan 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

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41 comments or Leave a comment
ellenmillion From: ellenmillion Date: May 7th, 2013 06:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
They're, their, there...


resistors, the electrical restricto vs resisters, protesters

rot and wrought, being nearly opposites.

ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: May 7th, 2013 06:48 pm (UTC) (Link)


I have posted "Ohm's Lawyers" as today's freebie.
From: technoshaman Date: May 7th, 2013 06:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hmmmmmm.... Tentacle Tim's reaction to wordplay.

One/Won... An Army of One, a epic wordplay battle pulls everyone out of their shells...
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: May 7th, 2013 07:22 pm (UTC) (Link)


From your prompt about Tim and wordplay, I got the free-verse poem "Tantalizing." Turns out, this is the closest thing to erotica that he's found on Earth.

49 lines, Buy It Now = $20
janetmiles From: janetmiles Date: May 7th, 2013 07:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
Right / rite / write / wright

Stem = branch off from / Stem = cause to stop

Cleave = join tightly to / Cleave = sever

"The shortest distance between two puns is a straight line."
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: May 7th, 2013 07:34 pm (UTC) (Link)


From your straight line prompt I got the free-verse poem "The Geometry of Language." It makes an extended metaphor with words of different meanings.

6 lines, Buy It Now = $5
Paula Krafty Katz From: Paula Krafty Katz Date: May 7th, 2013 07:27 pm (UTC) (Link)


In honour of the 'reprise' for bees in Europe - To BEE or not Two Bee (yeah deliberate *double* pun/synonym)

Weather (yes I'm sticking with the bard) tis nobler in the mind (I don't mind at all!! *giggle*) (whether/weather/wether [castrated ram])

Acts and Axe

Aerie and airy (that one I think would have to be worked into something about a treetop nest)

Ail and ale (could be something about hangovers?!) Boos and Booze, brood and brewed

Bard and Barred

A slightly risque/risky?! one is braw (as in Scot for 'well-groomed/handsome') and bra

Bundt (cake) and bunt (hit a pitch without swinging)... maybe a cause for a celebration if said bunt was to make a home run?!

Check (tick mark), Cheque/Check (money order) and Czech

Crays (criminal twins or super computers), craze (the desire to buy such things!!)

And epoch epic?

Ewes use a yew??

Planet of the Apes??? Guerrilla Gorillas?!

The knight was grieving the loss of his friend who forgot to wear his greaves....he was mourning in the morning

I'll walk down the aisle (I won't as the aisle is actually the corridor at the side of a church but....)

Lightening with lightning

The crab got his pincer on the pincher of a Pinscher (thief of a terrier)

Popery (Catholicism) and pot pourri (scented dried flower petals etc)

The Greek students all sigh about psi and xi!

A row about who's turn it was to row?!

They rued the fact they were rude

Andrew Sachs (he played Manuel in Fawlty Towers) had sacks for his sax

Sue the Sioux didn't have a sou (name, Native tribe, small french coin)

The stationery was stationary (and I have to be careful which way round I get them) thanks to a paperweight

She ate a sundae on Sunday

The toed toad was towed

The poisons dept had a tocsin about the toxin!

The eunuchs used Unix

Out on the prairie, Wayne saw the wains wane

To get the garden to right we'd all need to weed

Back in Georgian times the Whigs wore wigs, to whit they used a lot of wit!

Woah! is me LOL... I seem to have given a fair few here!!

From: technoshaman Date: May 7th, 2013 07:30 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Wordplay

methinks my lady is just a little bit *nuts*... :D
janetmiles From: janetmiles Date: May 7th, 2013 07:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
Also, geeks play with language to amuse; politicians play with language to confuse
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: May 8th, 2013 02:00 am (UTC) (Link)


This inspired the indriso "Whole Loops." It compares and contrasts geeks and partisans in language use.

8 lines, Buy It Now = $5
my_partner_doug From: my_partner_doug Date: May 7th, 2013 07:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
Raise/Raze, being the only pair I know that are both sound-alike and opposites.

Desert (dehZIRT): abandon one's post;
Desert (DEZirt): arid place
Dessert (dehZIRT, again): sweet after meal treat

The confusion (possibly disastrous) resulting in magical wish-making, military orders, or any other circumstance in which one mis-interprets a sound-alike for one of a different intended meaning; methinks the raise/raze pair would be particularly effective in this context.

ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: May 7th, 2013 08:51 pm (UTC) (Link)


The raise/raze prompt led to the free-verse poem "Command Line Errors." Find out the real reason why summoning a daemon to do one's bidding is a very bad idea.

61 lines, Buy It Now = $30.50
rix_scaedu From: rix_scaedu Date: May 7th, 2013 11:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
All I can think of is solicitor (member of the legal profession)/solicitor (person of negotiable affection)/solicitor (one who asks)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: May 8th, 2013 12:45 am (UTC) (Link)


From your prompt came the free-verse poem "Greetings and Solicitations." It compares the three types of solititor, with a rather rude ending.

12 lines, Buy It Now = $10
siege From: siege Date: May 8th, 2013 12:02 am (UTC) (Link)
Door/portal/gate/window/transition, ingress and inlet, egress and outlet, entrance and exit.

Egret and egress. Don't forget or regret the egret; this way to the egress to avoid the tigress!

Tiber's tigress tipples bottles, waxes windows, bags the boxes/
And when poor Tiber's tired or tripping, she carries him to bed.
(Wordplay doesn't always have to be strictly linguistic; there's a lot of cognitive play in it as well.)

Tongue twisters in general are interesting, and many tell or imply stories of some sort. Can you tell a complete story only in tongue twisters?
my_partner_doug From: my_partner_doug Date: May 8th, 2013 12:37 am (UTC) (Link)
rowyn From: rowyn Date: May 8th, 2013 12:50 am (UTC) (Link)
Iron (the metal)/iron (the verb) and Glenta, from the "One God's Story of Mid-Life Crisis".
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: May 8th, 2013 01:45 am (UTC) (Link)


From this I got the free-verse poem "Irony of Eight." Zargon shows up with a lesser demon and interrupts Glenta's housework. You can see how this is not going to end well.

108 lines, Buy It Now = $54
laffingkat From: laffingkat Date: May 8th, 2013 02:15 am (UTC) (Link)
Not sure how to work this into a good prompt, but I've always been fond of the Tom Swifties:
"I'm concerned about the number of people not attending," said Tom absentmindedly.
"Don't add too much water," Tom muttered with great concentration.
"I like ragged margins," said Tom without justification.

You mentioned portmanteaus, which of course brings to mind Lewis Carroll and that makes me think of what it might be like to attend a tea party with the likes of Carroll and his contemporary, the scholar Rev. William Archibald Spooner, source of spoonerisms such as "fighting a liar" instead of "lighting a fire" and having "the hags flung out" instead of "the flags hung out."
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: May 8th, 2013 03:10 am (UTC) (Link)


All this lead to the free-verse poem "Portmanteaparty." Alice and the Caterpillar devise a plan to reveal the foolishness of political candidates.

66 lines, Buy It Now = $33
wyld_dandelyon From: wyld_dandelyon Date: May 8th, 2013 02:52 am (UTC) (Link)
Roc rocking (preferably musically)
Dragon dragging
Siren sireing
Gryphon griping
Chimera shimmering
Unique eunuch
Cracking Kraken
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: May 8th, 2013 03:34 am (UTC) (Link)


This of course turned into a parody, "The 12 Days of Fantasia." I wrote out the first two verses and then just listed the changing lines.

17 lines, Buy It Now = $10
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: May 8th, 2013 04:59 am (UTC) (Link)

Done for the night!

I've written up all the prompts I found inspiring, and run out. Calling it a night now.
rix_scaedu From: rix_scaedu Date: May 8th, 2013 05:17 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Done for the night!

My timing for signal boosting seems to have been incredibly bad...
41 comments or Leave a comment