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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 enthusiasm.

Starting now, the Poetry Fishbowl is open!  Today's theme is "angels & deities."  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 "The Trains Must Run on Time" (The Steamsmith, 19 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 "angels & deities." 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. "The Trains Must Run on Time" belongs to the series The Steamsmith and has 19 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.  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 "angels & deities."  I'll be soliciting ideas for divine messengers, gods and goddesses, unusual angel types, angels or deities of color, terrifying or destroying angels, holy spirits, saints, sinners, true believers, bemused atheists, unconcerned bystanders, Fledging, praying, flying, falling from grace, rising from perdition, summoning, banishing, cursing, visitations, annunciations, mass hallucinations, churches, holy ground, sacred sites around the world, profane places to find angels or deities, robes, halos, feathers, holy relics, holy objects, faith-powered weapons, sacred texts, sigils, 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 "The Trains Must Run on Time.") The rest of the poems will go into my archive for magazine submission.

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59 comments or Leave a comment
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rix_scaedu From: rix_scaedu Date: December 3rd, 2013 06:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
The God of Drunks and an angel - possibly one joining his service?

A guardian angel whose job is to protect others from his/her/its charge.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: December 3rd, 2013 08:00 pm (UTC) (Link)


From your protection prompt came today's freebie, "Whose Guardian."
aldersprig From: aldersprig Date: December 3rd, 2013 06:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
I have always been fascinated by the etymology of angel, meaning messenger.

What about the theory that gods exist because of a need/belief?

Modern gods. Old gods re-tasked.

Guardian angels being overworked.

a new myth for an old tradition

Angels on top of Christmas trees.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: December 3rd, 2013 08:44 pm (UTC) (Link)


From your messenger prompt came the free-verse poem "Full of Grace," about an angel and the beginning of the Fledging.

56 lines, Buy It Now = $20
kelkyag From: kelkyag Date: December 3rd, 2013 07:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
Are there gods or angels -- or things that think they are or claim to be -- in the Monster House universe? I'm not sure if I'd count the Lurking Shadow's mother or not ... she'd be an ancient and incomprehensible Lovecraftian sort of deity if that were the right thing to call her.

"Good" and "evil" being magically detectable (and occasionally rather oddly mapped when people decline to conform to stereotypes) the way they are in the world Nib and Brod inhabit is something I've ~always associated with RPGs with multiple conflicting pantheons and so forth. I don't think that deities have made an appearance there yet, as such. Are there any? (Possibly that I've overlooked along the way.) What are they like, and how do they relate to good and evil?

Path of Paladins.

Minor, local, narrowly-focused and/or household gods.

Becoming a deity.

An angel older than the entity it works for.

Edited at 2013-12-03 07:24 pm (UTC)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: December 3rd, 2013 10:40 pm (UTC) (Link)


From household gods I got the free-verse poem "Guardians of the House." Fiorenza honors both transcendent and immanent deities, but she asks them for different things.

21 lines, Buy It Now = $10
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: December 3rd, 2013 07:27 pm (UTC) (Link)


The linkback poem "The Trains Must Run on Time" is up with its first verse.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: December 3rd, 2013 07:29 pm (UTC) (Link)


A backchannel prompt led to the free-verse poem "Jamaican Angels" in Walking the Beat. Everyone works together to keep the streets safe during the holidays.

72 lines, Buy It Now = $36

Edited at 2013-12-06 02:00 am (UTC)
ellenmillion From: ellenmillion Date: December 3rd, 2013 07:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
Masquerading as a deity (or angel)... with unexpected results

The littlest angel

A deity trying to get out of godhood

Angel with an agenda
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: December 4th, 2013 03:14 am (UTC) (Link)


The littlest angel and the littlest devil meet up in the free-verse poem "Shouldermates." They wind up growing very attached to each other.

60 lines, Buy It Now = $20
From: siliconshaman Date: December 3rd, 2013 09:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
Lucifer sets the record straight...

Patron Deity of Physicists.

The Creator[itrix] as a scientist delivers an interim report on His/Her experiment...

An angel goes shopping...

A roadside diner with food good enough for the gods [and goddesses].

[linked to from both my blogs on LJ & DW]

Edited at 2013-12-03 09:24 pm (UTC)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: December 3rd, 2013 09:39 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

I've posted your two new verses of "The Trains Must Run on Time."
lb_lee From: lb_lee Date: December 3rd, 2013 09:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
Angels are always depicted in recent art as pretty white people with wings, but I seem to recall them introducing themselves in the Bible with, "Do not fear." Which does NOT imply a pleasant appearance.

ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: December 4th, 2013 04:51 am (UTC) (Link)


See below for a thumbnail of "Sore Afraid."
kestrels_nest From: kestrels_nest Date: December 3rd, 2013 09:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
Non-human guardian angels. (This comes from our Sophia,the erstwhile barn cat, who first declared herself my familiar, and then did things like shoulder our 7 year old back if she thought he was too close to the road, or run to him and rub her head against his face to quiet nightmares. He said she told him her name. He also said that she stood guard in his dreams - and that was definitely her stance beside him when he was asleep.)

More ideas later. This is a great topic!
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: December 4th, 2013 02:08 am (UTC) (Link)


This reminded me of some fairytale creatures, so I wrote the free-verse poem "Sorrow's Guardian" about a mer-angel. It blends together various fairytales, in which a little mermaid needs to deal with a prince who turns out not to be so charming after all.

144 lines, Buy It Now = $72
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: December 3rd, 2013 10:01 pm (UTC) (Link)


A backchannel prompt from fayanora inspired the ballad "Sacred to Medusa." The myth of Medusa may be a retelling of how ancient Greeks overthrew the woman-positive culture of Minoa. Once upon a time, she wasn't a monster, but a priestess or goddess ...

32 lines, Buy It Now = $15
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: December 3rd, 2013 10:21 pm (UTC) (Link)


A Dreamwidth prompt inspired the indriso "Infinitesimal Divinities." God and angels, atoms and quarks -- they're not so different at heart.

8 lines, Buy It Now = $5
janetmiles From: janetmiles Date: December 3rd, 2013 10:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
Where do angels come from? Are the ranks of angels unchanging, or can they be promoted (or demoted)?

What happens to a deity when the last believer dies or stops believing?
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: December 4th, 2013 07:25 am (UTC) (Link)


Your prompt about believers inspired the free-verse poem "The Lounge Eternal." People have different opinions about what happens to gods after their followers die.

41 lines, Buy It Now = $20
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: December 3rd, 2013 11:24 pm (UTC) (Link)


From Dreamwidth I combined the ideas of ex-angel and future angel to get the free-verse poem "The Timefallen." Angels and fallen angels are all the same beings, just from different times; and they have reason for tormenting humans as they do.

68 lines, Buy It Now = $34
the_vulture From: the_vulture Date: December 3rd, 2013 11:50 pm (UTC) (Link)

Atheists calling upon the Flying Spaghetti Monster in a moment of (minor) crisis (like trying to start an uncooperative car when late for a conference).

The benevolent winged gods of the Cargo Cult people.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: December 4th, 2013 04:50 am (UTC) (Link)


I combined egregores with some other prompts and got the free-verse poem "Sore Afraid." Sometimes you don't get an answer for why God suddenly decided to set everything on fire with terrifying angels.

26 lines, Buy It Now = $15
wyld_dandelyon From: wyld_dandelyon Date: December 4th, 2013 02:22 am (UTC) (Link)
I'll mention some of the Gods and Goddesses that inspire me:

Brighid, the goddess of the hearth, fire, and poetry
Coyote, who often teaches lessons by screwing up
Pan and Bacchus, who celebrate life intensely
Hotai, who is more relaxed, but no less joyous
Ganesha, who removes obstacles and dances in places that serve food I can eat
Nimue, who doesn't believe there's anything she can't do "because she's a girl"
Grandmother because, well, Grandmother. Storyteller. Muse.

And now I'll go tweet you!

Oh--and this is a perfect time to use the icon made from a drawing that my sister drew of me as a Yule gift last year!
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: December 4th, 2013 02:27 am (UTC) (Link)

Thank you!

I've posted your new verse of "The Trains Must Run on Time."
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