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Poetry Fishbowl Open! - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
Poetry Fishbowl Open!
The Poetry Fishbowl is now CLOSED for prompts.  Thank you for your enthusiasm!  Keep an eye on this post, as I'll be adding more poem thumbnails later in the week.

Starting now, the Poetry Fishbowl is open!  Today's theme is "gentlemen in distress."  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.

Note: The point is to reverse the "damsel in distress" trope.  Therefore, any male or equivalent character counts, not just noblemen.  In the case of alternate sex/gender paradigms, the usually-dominant trait should be in distress.

Click to read the linkback poem, "Dangerous Refuges" (14 verses, A Conflagration of Dragons).

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 "gentlemen in distress." 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. "Dangerous Refuges" belongs to A Conflagration of Dragons and has 14 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'll get a piece of bonus material.

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 "gentlemen in distress."  I'll be soliciting ideas for strong women, the role of the hera as female protagonist, men in need of rescue, the role of the heronet as male love-interest and plot complication, folks of other genders on either side of this equation, gender police antagonists, innocent bystanders, getting into trouble, deciding to help someone, getting out of trouble, asking for help and getting it, when help goes horribly wrong, proving yourself, heroic ladyfeats, epic failures of manhood, dungeons, creepy buildings, bedrooms that someone does not want to be in, gendered spaces, tertiary sexual characteristics, gendered artifacts, endings and beginnings, love polygons, hero teams, the challenges of not being a macho hero, the challenges of not being a delicate heroine,  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 "Dangerous Refuges." The rest of the poems will go into my archive for magazine submission.

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Current Mood: creative creative

48 comments or Leave a comment
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janetmiles From: janetmiles Date: May 5th, 2015 05:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
I vaguely recall that Aldornia and Zenobia had a cousin show up somewhile back.
wyld_dandelyon From: wyld_dandelyon Date: May 5th, 2015 06:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'd love to see a Hart's Farm poem.

Or a Polychrome Heroics poem.

I can also certainly see Fala riding to the rescue. :-D

Also, I tweeted!
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: May 5th, 2015 07:04 pm (UTC) (Link)


Your Polychrome prompt combined with a backchannel one to inspire the free-verse poem "Tomato Pie and Ice Cream." Derreck and the other surivors of the zetetic incident enjoy some comfort food.

128 lines, Buy It Now = $64
marina_bonomi From: marina_bonomi Date: May 5th, 2015 06:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
Giacinto in above his head, Fiorenza to the rescue!

Maryam's father has to deal with some thorny issue and needs his daughter's help.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: May 5th, 2015 11:10 pm (UTC) (Link)


Your prompt about Maryam's father inspired the free-verse poem "All Mingle Their Waters." Following up the suggestion of attending to London's ancient earthworks is more challenging than Viscount Carrington can handle by himself.

220 lines, Buy It Now = $220
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: May 5th, 2015 07:44 pm (UTC) (Link)


A Dreamwidth prompt inspired the free-verse poem "Scrambling for Crumbs." Stan and Lawrence, Hefty and Fiddlesticks decide that some bake sales just aren't worth the bother.

68 lines, Buy It Now = $34
janetmiles From: janetmiles Date: May 5th, 2015 07:47 pm (UTC) (Link)

more thoughts

Sometimes heroism is small, like calling 911 and holding his hand until they arrive.

(This may be off-topic.) I think coming to the attention of the police counts as being in distress; are women police officers more likely to get suspects into custody without killing or maiming them? Should this be proffered as evidence that a higher percentage of police officers should be women?

(You may have already done one on this topic and I've forgotten.) Doctors stereotypically make terrible patients. How does Victor react to coming down with something moderately serious but not life-threatening?
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: May 6th, 2015 06:05 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: more thoughts

Your prompt about doctors inspired the free-verse poem "These Tiny Little Steps." Victor can just about convince himself to stay in bed -- until Adam turns up missing.

254 lines, Buy It Now = $127
starcat_jewel From: starcat_jewel Date: May 5th, 2015 08:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
RAT gets himself into deep shit and has to be rescued by a soup. For extra schadenfreude, a female soup. Guaranteed sponsorship if it's Fortressa!

Shiv is kind of an ongoing "in distress" right now. I don't know why this character interests me, but he does.

An animal soup being held captive by people who don't believe he's anything but an animal. This might be a good fit for Durganta.

Faramundo, internally at war with himself because of his power.

Savoir Faire channeling Gaston -- I'd like to see this played for comic effect, as he doesn't want to cause offense but keeps managing to dig himself in deeper.

Heh, that's probably enough for now.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: May 7th, 2015 10:11 am (UTC) (Link)


Order up!

Your first prompt contributed to the free-verse poem "A Cultural Control Problem." Fortressa goes to a gun show full of sexist jerks. This cannot end well.

170 lines, Buy It Now = $85
ellenmillion From: ellenmillion Date: May 5th, 2015 08:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
A female war-sailor hero
A cooking (or other 'woman's work') related rescue
Repeating Deirdre's prompt above for Fala riding to the rescue
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: May 6th, 2015 09:25 am (UTC) (Link)


From your prompt about Fala, I got the free-verse poem "Riding from the Rescue." A bad accident on the mountainside requires a volunteer to fetch a healer.

59 lines, Buy It Now = $20
From: siliconshaman Date: May 5th, 2015 10:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
Music prompt: Englishman in New York, alienation and cultural isolation can cause real distress. Sometimes one needs little help to reconnect.

Art prompt: Gentleman adventurer gets rescued from poachers by one of these, and it's human handler.

Don Quixote [or someone similar] meets Victor Frankenstein after he gets lost in a late winter storm. [ok, very, very lost!]
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: May 11th, 2015 09:11 am (UTC) (Link)


Your adventurer prompt inspired the free-verse poem "Under Any Other Scenario." A photographer has come to take pictures of Hercules and his family. Africa turns out to have more dangers than just its wildlife...

190 lines, Buy It Now = $95
ng_moonmoth From: ng_moonmoth Date: May 5th, 2015 10:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
An Army of One: Astin gets word of a trader running a loop from Carinan space and arranges a meetup at Sargasso Base, where xe hears of a promising market on Cascabel (see "Too Much Energy" and the accompanying demifiction). Realizing that Spalling likely has a lot of useful inventory, xe shares the news on xyr next return to Trunnion. Distress undoubtedly ensues.

I'd also be interested in a Kung Fu Robots story. Perhaps a robot might wander through a village recently beset by bandits who, not finding any food or wealth, kidnapped all the village's boys (at least, those old enough to make useful servants or bandits) to indoctrinate them into a life of banditry, and easily dismissed the pursuit of the few villagers who sought to dispute their theft.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: May 7th, 2015 07:19 am (UTC) (Link)


Your Army of One prompt inspired the free-verse poem "Who Is Devoid of the Power." Astin meets with the Carinan trader Knox and learns about his cousin Bowie on Cascabel. But the conversation turns out to be more stressful than either of them really anticipated ...

178 lines, Buy It Now = $89

This covers the Sargasso scene. I'll probably wind up making a triptych with one set on Cascabel and then the return to Trunnion when Astin reconnects with Spalling on the topic of this addition to the trade network.
kestrels_nest From: kestrels_nest Date: May 6th, 2015 01:10 am (UTC) (Link)
Dragon and damsel team up to rescue knight from something overcnfidence got him into.

Fiorenza helps her father outwit an old enemy.

Macavity finds out he's sired a litter of telepathic kittens who are wandering around "talking" to everyone who stops to pet them. Public reaction is creating mayhem!

tigerbright From: tigerbright Date: May 6th, 2015 03:09 am (UTC) (Link)
I love that third one!
(Deleted comment)
tigerbright From: tigerbright Date: May 6th, 2015 03:06 am (UTC) (Link)
Steel and Moderato come immediately to mind.

For sweet and cute, what kind of trouble might Adam get int ,(would you consider projecting forward to age 7, with all appropriate changes in the town?), and what will his loving fathers and adopted family help him learn from it?

Edited at 2015-05-06 03:07 am (UTC)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: May 6th, 2015 06:45 am (UTC) (Link)


See above thumbnail for "These Tiny Little Steps."
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: May 6th, 2015 03:40 am (UTC) (Link)


Dreamwidth and backchannel prompts inspired the free-verse poem "Against the Wind." The Analyst takes an interest in how bridges and superpowers interact, and asks Calliope for help. Then a car goes off the bridge...

180 lines, Buy It Now = $90
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: May 6th, 2015 07:50 am (UTC) (Link)


A couple of prompts inspired the free-verse poem "If You Do Not Change Direction." Long before Denise became Dennis and developed into Hyperspaceman, before Professor Bonneville came to Urbanburg University and met his boyfriend Theodore, they two of them were friends in the QUILTBAG Literary Sewing Circle. And they shared a day that changed everything, sometime in the future...

84 lines, Buy It Now = $42
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: May 6th, 2015 09:35 am (UTC) (Link)

Done for the night!

Nowhere near finished with the prompts, but out of brain.

From: technoshaman Date: May 6th, 2015 05:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
Argh! oh, well, sometimes little things like marriage (and all the things swirling around it, like having bardling in-house all the way from Germany) make life a *bit* chaotic.... (he understates in heavily British fashion)

At least *this* gentleman was *not* in distress... :)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: May 6th, 2015 07:06 pm (UTC) (Link)


I'm sorry we missed each other this time.

*ponder* Tell you what, I will let you use this fishbowl theme in the Creative Jam (May 16-17) instead.
48 comments or Leave a comment
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