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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 your for your enthusiasm.

Starting now, the Poetry Fishbowl is open!  Today's theme is "genderqueer people."  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 "Hatching into the Future" (Dragonsilk, 20 verses).

Note #1: Today is April 1, which is my birthday.  (Yes, I'm working, I love my job, it is fine, and you can give me prompts as presents.)  I don't enjoy pranking, and especially not today.  Thank you.

Note #2: The entire datastream of the world is corrupt for about the first two weeks of April, until all the pranks have been found and labeled.  Therefore, if you want to leave a prompt that benefits from a supporting article, it helps immensely to link to an older one.

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 "genderqueer people." 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. "Hatching into the Future" belongs to the series Dragonsilk and has 20 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 "genderqueer people."  I'll be soliciting ideas for transfolk, two-spirits, genderfluid or agender people, gays, lesbians, asexuals, historic figures, genderqueer shamans, gendershifting deities or heroes, other folks with uncommon sex/gender identity, alien or fantasy genders, bigots, gender scholars, discovering something unusual about sex/gender, changing sex/gender, coming out, passing, falling in love with an incompatible gender, transbashing, plot twists, holy places, stages and theatres, bathrooms, bedrooms, other places where sex/gender may be an issue, confusion, self-hate, the joy of self-discovery, adaptive equipment, pride flags or rings, historic legends about genderqueer people, queerplatonic or otherwise queer relationships, vocabulary, 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 "Hatching into the Future.") The rest of the poems will go into my archive for magazine submission.

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Current Mood: creative creative

44 comments or Leave a comment
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ellenmillion From: ellenmillion Date: April 1st, 2014 06:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm a little dry of ideas for this theme.

One of the Torn World genderqueer characters?
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: April 1st, 2014 06:06 pm (UTC) (Link)


Actually the freebie touches on that:

I'll see about doing more in this setting, though; Torn World is great for this topic.
janetmiles From: janetmiles Date: April 1st, 2014 06:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
More and more children (pre-puberty) are identifying as genderqueer or trans*. What will society look like when that's OK and not seen as weird?

Conversely, someone who has felt genderqueer zir whole life, and finally in middle age feels safe expressing it.

Tony DeBlase, who designed the Leather Pride flag, did not explain what the colors were meant to represent. Do you or one of your characters want to offer an opinion?

It's been a while since I've seen anything from the Ocracies 'verse. It might be interesting to see how one or more of those groups deal with gender variant people.
my_partner_doug From: my_partner_doug Date: April 1st, 2014 06:59 pm (UTC) (Link)

Riffing from that...

...it would be interesting to see an Ocracies version of the Freedom System from your main SF setting - a country in which freedom of sexual expression is the cornerstone premise.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: April 1st, 2014 06:35 pm (UTC) (Link)


Based on a Dreamwidth prompt is the free-verse poem "Like the Two Wings of a Bird." There are actually multiple ways that genderqueer identity can manifest in Fledgling Grace; this one is a gynandromorph.

39 lines, Buy It Now = $15
rix_scaedu From: rix_scaedu Date: April 1st, 2014 06:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
Indeterminable and uncertain.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: April 2nd, 2014 03:37 am (UTC) (Link)


It seems that each culture places different expectations on genderqueer people. "A Stranger's Way" explores what happens when somebody doesn't want to be a shaman, and isn't happy described as one-between, but insists on being a man and looking for a wife. This poem is written in free verse.

82 lines, Buy It Now = $41
ng_moonmoth From: ng_moonmoth Date: April 1st, 2014 06:52 pm (UTC) (Link)


LJ newbie today who signed up just so I could leave a prompt for this.

My bio matches my internal self, not the facade I show the world right now. Starting with the line, "if the processors are compatible, the interface is negotiable", could you please put someone like me into a poem set in a culture where xe fits? I'm in the position janetmiles described in her prompt, and would also be pleased with a poem combining our prompts.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: April 1st, 2014 07:52 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Hello

>> LJ newbie today who signed up just so I could leave a prompt for this. <<

How exciting! I am thrilled to hear that.

From your requested combination of prompts, I got the free-verse poem "Uncounted Colors of the Stars." A freetrader discovers that the society of the Lacuna may be quirky, but it's very accommodating about people's differences.

140 lines, Buy It Now = $70

(Since you're new: As a prompter, you'll get a private copy of this whether it gets sponsored or not; and it can be sponsored in pieces rather than all at once if desired.)
(Deleted comment)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: April 1st, 2014 11:57 pm (UTC) (Link)


Your first two prompts combined with another to inspire the free-verse poem "Recycled Identities." A lesbian transwoman has difficulty finding acceptance even in Jamaica Plain; Dale and Kelly help.

126 lines, Buy It Now = $63
moonwolf1988 From: moonwolf1988 Date: April 1st, 2014 08:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
An unconventional courtship.

The gender scholar who find themselves on another world, where gender is not how it was on their world.

A spell to change gender - that doesn't always work the way it's expected to.

Asexuality in the bedroom.

The loneliness of being different.

A triad, with a difference.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: April 2nd, 2014 09:43 am (UTC) (Link)


Your courtship and scholar prompts combined with a bunch of others to inspire "Faeder Way." A team of humans surveying some aliens become inspired by how the aliens organize their families. This poem is written in free verse.

225 lines, Buy It Now = $112.50
From: siliconshaman Date: April 1st, 2014 08:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
What would the world be like if genderqueer people were the majority?

Are there any openly genderqueer soups in Polychrome heroes? Perhaps one with a secret identity, or rather, the opposite of the usual trope where their soup ID is who they really are...

Coyote gets fed up with some redneck homophobes causing trouble...

There's ample evidence of Vikings recognising other-gendered people, including warrior burials with female skeletons...and occasionally their wives. Perhaps a short-form Edda about that?
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: April 1st, 2014 09:51 pm (UTC) (Link)


Yes, Polychrome Heroics has a soup whose identity is flipped; that's Calvin/Calliope. In the free-verse poem "Learning to Be Her," Cal sets out to create a feminine persona to go with the new female body.

71 lines, Buy It Now = $35.50
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: April 1st, 2014 09:05 pm (UTC) (Link)


A backchannel prompt inspired the free-verse poem "The Power of Two." It presents the role of the winkte in giving sacred names in Lakota culture; Black Elk is one famous person who had a winkte name.

35 lines, Buy It Now = $15
lb_lee From: lb_lee Date: April 1st, 2014 09:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
Some of the monsters in Monster House seem to have been at least partially created by the humans around them, so presumably they don't have children in the human way. In that circumstance, what does gender mean for them? Are their boogiewomen as well as boogiemen?

ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: April 2nd, 2014 01:49 am (UTC) (Link)


Monsters have different varieties of sex/gender dynamics, some similar to humans and others not. They are therefore pretty tolerant of human diversity. "In Our Many Images" explores gender and love in the family and neighborhood of Monster House. This poem is written in free verse.

115 lines, Buy It Now = $57.50
wyld_dandelyon From: wyld_dandelyon Date: April 1st, 2014 10:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
What happens when a family with one or more queer members moves into the Monster House neighborhood? (Is the original Monster House getting crowded? Maybe a new alliance would happen?)

I also think Hart's Farm would be a perfect setting for poems with this topic.

Even being out as bi, you can end up feeling invisible because you are assumed to be monosexual just because you happen to be with one person whether it's a man or a woman. Being accepted on the basis of an assumption that you are something you aren't doesn't feel like acceptance at all.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: April 2nd, 2014 01:49 am (UTC) (Link)


For Monster House, see above "In Our Many Images."
my_partner_doug From: my_partner_doug Date: April 1st, 2014 11:33 pm (UTC) (Link)

Attempting to codify our discussion over lunch (per your request)

Take a look at gender identity through the lens(es) of reincarnation/far-memory/karma. Compare/contrast several contemporary genderqueer folks whose current roles are based on utterly different past-life experiences. Possibilities include reciprocity (a former male, rich white bigot comes back as a non-white lesbian); prerequisite lessons (wanting to serve a deity who expects their clergy to have lived both (multiple?) sides of the standard gender roles); true, previously unworkable love (coming back either genderqueer or gender-flipped to be a better match for a would-be lover never previously obtainable due to previously incompatible roles). Bear in mind that these are only *examples*, not specific requests for characters; feel free to run with the general idea wherever it may take you.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: April 3rd, 2014 05:53 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Attempting to codify our discussion over lunch (per your request)

From your reincarnation prompt came the free-verse poem "Souls Without Form," which explores the different ways and implications of incarnating as queer in some regard.

57 lines, Buy It Now = $20
From: technoshaman Date: April 2nd, 2014 12:10 am (UTC) (Link)
Beltane is coming. Schrodinger's Heroes feel the stirrings.

Damask deals with being multiple genders inside.

ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: April 2nd, 2014 11:38 pm (UTC) (Link)


For Damask, I wrote "Parts of Myselves," exploring gender and sexual orientation among a diverse group of headmates. They are trying different accommodations and techniques to adapt to their new life, but it's slow going.

163 lines, Buy It Now = $81.50
Available after "Needled" and "Drawing Me Out" have been posted.
rowyn From: rowyn Date: April 2nd, 2014 01:20 am (UTC) (Link)
A society with some socially-accepted gender identifications that are associated with biology, and some that aren't.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: April 2nd, 2014 09:44 am (UTC) (Link)


See above "Faeder Way."
the_vulture From: the_vulture Date: April 2nd, 2014 02:11 am (UTC) (Link)
Why are some people so threatened by an asexual's lack of sexuality, especially amongst lgbt communities?

So if gender is mostly a social construct, what's a positive way of being manly?
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: April 2nd, 2014 02:16 am (UTC) (Link)


>> So if gender is mostly a social construct, what's a positive way of being manly? <<

Whatever the heck you want. The boogeyman thinks that baking cookies for a new neighbor while wearing a pink apron is manly. I'm certainly not going to argue with him. (See "In Our Many Images.")
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