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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 "love."  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 "Spirit of Truth" (One God's Story of Mid-Life Crisis, 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 "love." 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, Digg, StumbleUpon, Tumblr, or any other social network.  Useful Twitter hashtags include #poetryfishbowl#promptcall, and #crowdfunding.  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. "Spirit of Truth" belongs to the series One God's Story of Mid-Life Crisis 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, there will be a half-price sale in one series to be selected in an audience poll.

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 "love."  I'll be soliciting ideas for lovers, spice, zucchini, siblings, parents and children, other loving relationships, falling in love, falling out of love, making up, breaking up, searching for someone special, plot twists, romantic restaurants, balconies, beaches, living rooms, bedrooms, other places where people express love, romance around the world, courting gifts, romantic customs, our song, unusual romantic configurations, intimate promises, nonsexual forms of intimacy or love, 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 Lewis Turco's The New 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 "Spirit of Truth.") 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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ellenmillion From: ellenmillion Date: February 4th, 2014 07:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
Lorn without the love

A really bad matchmaker

(And I really, really, REALLY want to know what happened between Fala and Dareg to break them up...)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 5th, 2014 10:30 am (UTC) (Link)


From your second prompt I got "Mismatchmakers." There are many goddesses of love, and some of them oversee trouble. When they get together, it gets even worse. This poem is written in unrhymed tercets.

30 lines, Buy It Now = $15
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 4th, 2014 07:20 pm (UTC) (Link)


Based on a backchannel prompt from Anthony Barrette, I got the free-verse poem "No-Good Lovers," which uses the extended metaphor of a toxic relationship to explore how people interact with money.

35 lines, Buy It Now = $15
janetmiles From: janetmiles Date: February 4th, 2014 07:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
Live, love, laugh - if you can't laugh together, is it really love?

Rose is a rose is eros

puppy piles
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 5th, 2014 01:26 am (UTC) (Link)


See below "The Feast of Saint Valentine" for a puppy pile.
From: technoshaman Date: February 4th, 2014 08:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
Dale and Kelly being silly. Visual puns?

Valentine's day in Waxahatchie has *gotta* be interesting. So many ways to express.

Victor and Igor? Perhaps work through a misunderstanding ...

ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 5th, 2014 01:25 am (UTC) (Link)


The prompt about Victor and Igor brought up that conversation they've been NOT having about employment vs. family relationships. It did not go well. Fortunately they had friends in the village to help them through the messy aftermath. Also more awesome local color emerged; I'm really falling in love with this setting. "The Feast of Saint Valentine" is written in free verse.

360 lines, Buy It Now = $180
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 4th, 2014 08:08 pm (UTC) (Link)


A Dreamwidth prompt inspired the free-verse poem "Valor's Widow." A superhero's wife chooses to sacrifice him to save a city.

46 lines, Buy It Now = $20
aldersprig From: aldersprig Date: February 4th, 2014 08:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
Learning what love is.

It's only love if... / it's not love if...

"Love shouldn't hurt."

ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 5th, 2014 01:26 am (UTC) (Link)


Your first and third prompts appear in "The Feast of Saint Valentine," thumbnailed above.
aldersprig From: aldersprig Date: February 4th, 2014 08:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
Love between different species.

Love between strangers.

When parts of a self fall in love.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 6th, 2014 06:56 pm (UTC) (Link)


Your strangers prompt inspired the poem "Lawless, Winged, and Unconfined." Scott and the incubus share a connection that isn't a chain, which is new and a bit confusing, but they gradually get used to it.

74 original lines, Buy It Now = $37
kelkyag From: kelkyag Date: February 4th, 2014 08:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
Sibling love: the kids of monster house

Melinda and the Bogeyman.

The monster under the bed and the girl who gave him his bear.

What love anchors the closet monster to reality? (Or perhaps that's not how closet monsters operate, but the closet monster seems similar in genre to the monster under the bed.)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 5th, 2014 04:25 am (UTC) (Link)


Your prompt about Melinda and the bogeyman led to the free-verse poem "Unexpected Affections." They're actually two points of a triad, the third being the son of the house. This poem is about childhood romance and friendship.

41 lines, Buy It Now = $20
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 4th, 2014 09:05 pm (UTC) (Link)

Linkback Poem

Read the linkback perk "Spirit of Truth."
siege From: siege Date: February 4th, 2014 09:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
How do Nib and Brod deal with relationship troubles?

The movie Frozen shows that True Love can be from familitas, not just eros. Perhaps an example or two of True Love from the other Greek loves?
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 5th, 2014 07:37 am (UTC) (Link)


Your true love prompt inspired the free-verse poem "The Love of Brothers." It uses philia as a base, and it takes place in ancient Greece, featuring a queerplatonic relationship between Ariston and Sophus, two apprentices of Archimedes.

80 lines, Buy It Now = $40
From: siliconshaman Date: February 4th, 2014 09:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
An unlikely kind of love...

The saying is that opposites attract, but what if it was taken literally?

Maybe the Evil SuperVillain keeps kidnapping the Plucky Girl because he loves her? [or perhaps he really loves the Stalwart Super Hero, and this is how he gets his attention.]

For that matter, how does a supervillain find love? [or is that why his trusty hench-person sticks around?]

Love in The Lucuna has to be difficult, even meeting someone has got to be awkward. [but then, that's what comms are for.]

ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 5th, 2014 01:27 am (UTC) (Link)


See "The Feast of Saint Valentine" for unlikely love, thumbnailed above.
the_vulture From: the_vulture Date: February 4th, 2014 10:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
I have a stuffed puppy I once bought as a Valentine's day gift, but my then girlfriend broke up with me a little under two weeks before. Instead of being a gift of joy, it wound up being the thing I curled up with night in sorrow, after first detaching the little stuffed heart that said "Be mine."

Why is it hard for many to conceive of love without sexual desire, but, understand lust without love quite readily?

Predicting your future love by twisting the stem of an apple.

Putting up with each other's imperfections.

Edited at 2014-02-04 10:32 pm (UTC)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 5th, 2014 01:27 am (UTC) (Link)


For imperfections, see above "The Feast of Saint Valentine."
my_partner_doug From: my_partner_doug Date: February 4th, 2014 10:29 pm (UTC) (Link)

Two links = 1 prompt


followed by


(In remembrance of how things were over 20 years ago)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 5th, 2014 03:40 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Two links = 1 prompt

From this I got "Let Me Count the Days," today's freebie.
rowyn From: rowyn Date: February 5th, 2014 01:26 am (UTC) (Link)
I wasn't going to use this, but it keeps coming back to me: I want to see Shaeth in love. n_n

Barring that: Fiorenza and the witch's son on an outing!
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 5th, 2014 09:07 am (UTC) (Link)


Your prompt about Shaeth led to the poem "Unfamiliar Feelings." He feels love, but he doesn't understand it. None of it really fits with his previous experiences, and he doesn't know what to do about that.

84 lines, Buy It Now = $42
lb_lee From: lb_lee Date: February 5th, 2014 02:02 am (UTC) (Link)
Either love for the folks in Feet of Clay, or in Damask's system! Also, I am sponsoring Valor's Widow.

ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 5th, 2014 03:27 am (UTC) (Link)


Thank you for the sponsorship. I have just posted "Valor's Widow."

I'll get to your prompt(s) as I can.
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