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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 for your time and attention.

Starting now, the Poetry Fishbowl is open!  Today's theme is "family gatherings."  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 the linkback poem "Building Where We Are" (Schrodinger's Heroes, 9 verses available).

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 "family gatherings." 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 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.  Comment with a link to where you posted. "Building Where We Are" belongs to the series Schrodinger's Heroes and has 9 verses available.

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 "family gatherings."  I'll be soliciting ideas for relatives, family friends, platonic partners, birth families, families of choice, alternative family arrangements, elders and children, catching up on family news, cooking, playing games, coming of age, happy announcements, inappropriately timed personal bombshells, those awful epic fights that everyone dreads, feeding people, home and hearth, people as home, childhood homes, large gathering centers such as parks, toys, favorite foods, dressy clothes, heirlooms, memories, traditions, weddings, funerals, holidays, people skills, family secrets, family trees, ancestors, genealogy, 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 "Building Where We Are.") The rest of the poems will go into my archive for magazine submission.

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Current Mood: creative creative

46 comments or Leave a comment
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siege From: siege Date: November 5th, 2013 06:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
A lot of your poems are already about family gatherings -- but also about gathering family. Perhaps something meta, commenting on that?

Nib and Brod are friends, certainly. Are they family? And what would their families be doing this time of year?

Here's a hard one: Damask attends a family gathering.

For the naturalist in you: Animal families, and how they work, and maybe some lessons humans can draw from that. I'd love to see a little more non-fiction poetry.

Along that line, safety in preparing and serving a family dinner. Maybe some tips for cooking together, as well.

Some folks are far away from family. How can they cope? Can roommates help?

"And then the aliens tried to steal Thanksgiving!"

How does the Hart's Farm community handle death? (This is traditionally a time to gather, but perhaps nobody there has died this year. Or maybe they have, even though we love them so.)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 5th, 2013 08:25 pm (UTC) (Link)


From your prompt about Damask I got the free-verse poem "Strange Gratitudes" in which they go home for Thanksgiving. Ouchiness ensues.

206 lines, Buy It Now = $103
poeticknowledge From: poeticknowledge Date: November 5th, 2013 06:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
I would love to see a poem commenting on the idea "family by choice" or very close friends who see each other as "family" even if they are not blood-related. Perhaps a group of friends who consider each other family and who have Thanksgiving dinner together? That would be neat! :)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 5th, 2013 10:58 pm (UTC) (Link)


This inspired "Good Graces," a poem about Schrodinger's Heroes. They're a teamfamily who save the world from alternate dimensions. They manage to stick together despite different ethnic, religious, and sexual affiliations ... and a mix of positive and negative connections with birth families.

61 original lines, Buy It Now = $30.50
janetmiles From: janetmiles Date: November 5th, 2013 07:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm copying Siege and Poeticknowledge, but I'd like to specifically suggest Aldornia and Zenobia - what kind of family style gatherings happen in the Temple of Golden Light?

Do sentient starships form family groups?

How are Lieutenant Adjo Mubarak, Bes, and Fallinglight doing? What kind of family gatherings do the Touched have?
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 6th, 2013 03:44 am (UTC) (Link)


The prompt about Adjo and Bes led to "Sucked In," a free-verse poem about welcoming them to the Touched homeworld. Bes is still too traumatized to participate normally, but Adjo really likes the family circle.

163 lines, Buy It Now = $81.50
labelleizzy From: labelleizzy Date: November 5th, 2013 07:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
Meeting your sweetie's family for the first time, especially if there's anything nontraditional about the relationship that causes tension: cross-cultural dating, polyamorous dating... Hm.
From: technoshaman Date: November 5th, 2013 08:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
like this one!
From: technoshaman Date: November 5th, 2013 08:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
Schrodinger's Heroes do Thanksgiving.

This year Hanukkah coincides with Thanksgiving... and Kelly and Dale are invited to celebrate both.

A village can be an extended family. Fiorenza and Don Candido celebrate winter holidays. (Whose is up to you! :)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 5th, 2013 10:59 pm (UTC) (Link)


See above "Good Graces" for Thanksgiving with Schrodinger's Heroes.

61 original lines, Buy It Now = $30.50
kelkyag From: kelkyag Date: November 5th, 2013 09:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
Many families have their own special occasions to observe instead of or in addition to local standard cultural ones, or unusual traditions for common ones.

Intergenerational interactions at Monster House. Grandmother/mother/daughter? The bogeyman & his foster mother? (Is there more that wants saying about the little old lady ghost and her soldier son?) Do the monsters in the closet and under the bed have ancestors, or more like first children to imagine them? How about trolls?

It's a long way off yet (I hope, relative to what's been written), but is Maryam as Baron Carrington considering her heir, in whatever mode?

Weddings and funerals sometimes bring widely scattered relatives together.

ETA: Nib is called home for a family event.

Edited at 2013-11-05 09:30 pm (UTC)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 6th, 2013 05:49 am (UTC) (Link)


See below for a thumbnail of "Gathered Here Today," a Monster House funeral poem.
From: siliconshaman Date: November 5th, 2013 09:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
I've always liked The Addams Family, and the way they accept people into the family... but I can't help but think that has to make family gatherings pretty tense when old adversaries meet, such as werewolves and vampires. ["and then the Christian fundies turned up..."]

One wonders what family gatherings like weddings are like when half your family are pirates, and the other half are in the Navy. Back story to this: One of my more distant ancestors was a privateer, (Cpt 'Jolly' Roger White) a former Royal navy captain, who married Henry Morgan's (illegitimate) daughter... Now imagine the wedding....

Speaking of family history... what do you do when if you go back far enough history becomes mythology? Imagine having gods [of different pantheons no less] still hanging around and bugging their descendants over the dinner table...[or park picnic table I suppose].

Edited at 2013-11-05 09:38 pm (UTC)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 6th, 2013 11:55 pm (UTC) (Link)


Based on your last prompt, "Family Histories" is about world mythology and how it plays out over the dinner table.

28 lines, Buy It Now = $15
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 6th, 2013 12:09 am (UTC) (Link)


From a Dreamwidth prompt about Victor(ia) Frankenstein, I got the free-verse poem "What We Reap." It has a harvest festival, traditional dancing, a private feast, and some family fluff.

119 lines, Buy It Now = $59.50
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 6th, 2013 12:22 am (UTC) (Link)


A prompt from Anthony Barrette inspired the ballad "Together We Must Come." It maps birth, graduation, wedding, and funeral to the four directions.

24 lines, Buy It Now = $10
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 6th, 2013 01:27 am (UTC) (Link)

"Building Where We Are" is now complete

ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 6th, 2013 02:12 am (UTC) (Link)


my_partner_doug passed along a link to an article about 3D printed babies. In our world it's a wacky exaggeration, but it made great inspiration for the Diminished Expectations setting. "Printing Errors" is a free-verse poem about the continuing quest for built-to-order human livestock. Creepy fuckers, aren't they? Fortunately there are some decent people who make efforts to rescue the rejects.

108 lines, Buy It Now = $54
rix_scaedu From: rix_scaedu Date: November 6th, 2013 02:14 am (UTC) (Link)
A family getting together, for what ever reason, for the first time.

Dealing with the difficult or inappropriate relatives.

A family gathering that goes unexpectedly well and why.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 6th, 2013 05:49 am (UTC) (Link)


See below for "Gathered Here Today," a Monster House poem about difficult relatives at a funeral.
wyld_dandelyon From: wyld_dandelyon Date: November 6th, 2013 04:03 am (UTC) (Link)
The most recent family gathering I went to was a funeral; that rawness everyone feels at such times can lead to disasters, but sometimes it brings people closer, which is what happened this time.

This topic makes me think of your Monster House.

It also makes me reflect on the differences between blood family and chosen family
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 6th, 2013 05:46 am (UTC) (Link)


Your prompts about Monster House and funerals inspired the free-verse poem "Gathered Here Today." A death in the family brings some people closer and others farther apart.

174 lines, Buy It Now = $87
mdlbear From: mdlbear Date: November 6th, 2013 04:25 am (UTC) (Link)
Tuesday night here at Rainbow's End is Family Dinner Night, when we all make an effort to sit down together at the same table for dinner. Doesn't always work, given the number of chronically-ill people in the house, but usually.

Monster House, maybe?
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 6th, 2013 05:47 am (UTC) (Link)


See above for a thumbnail of "Gathered Here Today," a Monster House poem.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: November 6th, 2013 09:17 am (UTC) (Link)


A Dreamwidth prompt about Diminished Expectations inspired the poem "The Family You've Got." Credence, Silence, Reverence, and Innocence develop a language of their own ... and plans for themselves that diverge from what others have planned for them.

60 lines, Buy It Now = $20
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