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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.  Thank you for your time and enthusiasm.  Watch for later updates.

Starting now, the Poetry Fishbowl is open!  Today's theme is "friendship, kinship, and families of choice."  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 "Qui Gatti Ci Cova" (Fiorenza the Wisewoman, 15 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 "friendship, kinship, and families of choice." 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. "Qui Gatti Ci Cova" belongs to Fiorenza the Wisewoman, and has 15 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, there will be a half-price sale in one series.

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 "friendship, kinship, and families of choice."  I'll be soliciting ideas for friends, frenemies, nemesis, spice, parents and children, zucchini, other relatives, making friends, arguing, making up, falling in love, growing a family, getting into trouble, deciding to help someone, getting out of trouble, asking for help and getting it, when help goes horribly wrong, enemy mine, enemies to friends, enemies to lovers, friendship benches, home, school, workplaces, playgrounds, bars, other places important to human relationships, friendship tokens, wedding rings, baby handprints, photo albums, souvenirs, our song, people skills, emotional first aid, endings and beginnings, marriage, divorce, other major life changes, 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 "Qui Gatti Ci Cova.") The rest of the poems will go into my archive for magazine submission.

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26 comments or Leave a comment
ng_moonmoth From: ng_moonmoth Date: August 4th, 2015 05:44 pm (UTC) (Link)

And they're off!

OK, time to put that running backchannel exchange we've been having out here as a prompt.

A tangent off some Terramagne world history building has revealed that incidents that lead to physical soup dominance fights elsewhere in the world are resolved in New Zealand by the soups (and sometimes their minions, allies, and families) settling things with a haka. These can range from a spontaneous one-on-one faceoff up to an elaborate throwdown challenge, usually one soup calling out another and specifying a time and place for the meeting. Some of these are public events, held at places such as rugby pitches or cricket grounds with admission tickets being sold.

Doing the haka with someone is culturally a kinship ritual, as in "I stand with these people. Mess with us and we will HUNT YOU DOWN." I'd like to hear about one of the really legendary faceoffs that folks who were there are still talking about years later.

And now for something completely different: What happens to Rom soups? Is there a caravan going around somewhere (ideally led by someone who isn't a supervillain) that takes them in?
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 4th, 2015 07:02 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: And they're off!

This inspired the free-verse poem "Whakaeke." It introduces the concept of haka mana in which New Zealand superheroes use display dancing to settle disputes.

51 lines, Buy It Now = $20
(Deleted comment)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 5th, 2015 07:49 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: And they're off!

No, this is the historic setup for Jack Union in NZ. It's set around 1961. Just so happens that while the rest of the world was freaking out about superpowers, the Maori rummaged in their cultural toolbox, found a solution, applied it, and went back to whatever else they were doing. So in modern New Zealand, superpowers are both more integrated and less of an impact. They think of it more as a cultural thing, for show, than a practicality. And they regard fights that do real damage about like a toddler who hasn't learned not to bite people yet -- it's just babyish and vulgar.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 4th, 2015 06:13 pm (UTC) (Link)


For a DW prompt about reciprocating emotional labor, I wrote "The Surface Tension of Injured Souls," in which Daphne struggles to reconnect with people after her long absence. Her contribution to relationships is actually quite small, but it's a monumental effort for her, so it counts.

60 lines, Buy It Now = $20
janetmiles From: janetmiles Date: August 4th, 2015 06:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hart's Farm would be an obvious choice for family-of-choice, so I'll mention that.

How are Aldornia and Zenobia doing?

Do Deaf pick-up artists use, "Hey, baby, what's your sign language?" as a pick-up line? (I should be so ashamed of this prompt.)

The blog Making Light uses "hlepy" for the concept of, "thinks they're being helpful but getting it all wrong and possibly making it worse."
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 4th, 2015 08:27 pm (UTC) (Link)


From your Hart's Farm prompt combined with some others to make the free-verse poem "Walking with a Friend in the Dark." Auduna appreciates having a lot of help with two new babies.

42 lines, Buy It Now = $20
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 4th, 2015 07:54 pm (UTC) (Link)


A backchannel prompt from Anthony Barrette inspired the free-verse poem "American Wings," which tells about his first ancestor who moved to America.

22 lines, Buy It Now = $10
wyld_dandelyon From: wyld_dandelyon Date: August 4th, 2015 08:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'll second the hope for Hart's Farm, though a lot of your worlds would be appropriate settings for chosen family.


Complicated cousins

That strange level friendly acquaintance, where it would be offensive not to call a person a friend, even though you barely know them.

A friendship where there is deep love, but no romance or sexual attraction

Friends across the generations
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 4th, 2015 08:27 pm (UTC) (Link)


For Hart's Farm, see above "Walking with a Friend in the Dark."
kestrels_nest From: kestrels_nest Date: August 4th, 2015 08:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
Confusing the mundanes by refusing to draw a distinction between chosen family and blood/legal family. Especially effective when the mundane in question has known the family-of-origin for several generations.

Societal recognition of near-kin or oath-kin.


Oddly enough, this theme is proving difficult for me because it isn't an exercise of imagination, it's my life. For example, I have 1 child I legally adopted, but 4 more who call me some variant on Mom.

ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 5th, 2015 11:01 am (UTC) (Link)


For social recognition, see thumbnail for "A River So Long."
From: siliconshaman Date: August 4th, 2015 08:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
Been thinking about families of choice and so on... building a family of choice and finding ways of making it work by experimentation, trail & error, because of a lack of models from experience. [sounds like a Polychrome heroics, with a super-intellect.]

A really, really unlikely friendship!

Hehe.. a literal friend or kin ship.

Claiming kinship, finding your kin of choice and how one knows.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 5th, 2015 11:01 am (UTC) (Link)


For families of choice, see thumbnail for "A River So Long."
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 17th, 2015 07:54 am (UTC) (Link)


Continuing with Ansel's storyline, he gets into some soup issues at work, resulting in a triptych of free-verse poems. You'll see some coworker relationships and also how he deals with other soups.

"The Individual's Own Reason" shows Ansel starting to take on more cases believed to involve superpowers, which are challenging for the police to handle.
216 lines, Buy It Now = $108

"Forgotten to Breathe" introduces some new supervillains who are making Ansel's job more difficult. He gets in over his head.
484 lines, Buy It Now = $242

"When We Get the Rough Times" features Ansel and Chief De Soto discussing how the incident went and what could be done better in the future. Also Skippy is really, really serious about his role as soup mentor.
464 lines, Buy It Now = $232
ellenmillion From: ellenmillion Date: August 5th, 2015 12:03 am (UTC) (Link)
Does an age-set count as a 'choice?'

I'm still dying to the the fallout of Fala and Dareg.

I'd also like to see Rai in some romantic situation - welcome or not.

Alko's relationship with either Rai or Kora (I've always loved the sugar gift detail in his CIS)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 6th, 2015 01:00 am (UTC) (Link)


Your age-set prompt inspired the free-verse poem "Spinning Family." It describes the primary social connection for Northerners.

37 lines, Buy It Now = $15
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 5th, 2015 02:04 am (UTC) (Link)


A DW prompt about self-harm dovetailed neatly with notes I've had for Cassandra. Past and present stresses push her into some desperate measures. Groundhog finds out -- but his reaction is very different from previous experiences she has had. Competent dispatcher is competent. I have a competence kink. Let me show you it. "The Brightest Thing in the Day" is written in free verse.

536 lines, Buy It Now = $268
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 5th, 2015 03:20 am (UTC) (Link)


A backchannel prompt from Shirley Barrette inspired the free-verse poem "The Trees That Came for a Wedding." It tells of a forest where trees grow through the seats of chairs, and why they are there.

36 lines, Buy It Now = $15
eseme From: eseme Date: August 5th, 2015 03:52 am (UTC) (Link)
I also though Hart's Farm, specifically where adults sleep and with whom, and where breakfast is had.

I think family of choice may fit the Origami Mage as well, though I am not sure if that cycle is complete.

Damask knows a thing or two about families and Friendship.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 5th, 2015 08:16 am (UTC) (Link)


This combined with several other prompts to make the free-verse poem "Only in Acceptance." Damask muse about their situation and how to improve it, thinking about what makes friendship and family work.

110 lines, Buy It Now = $55
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 5th, 2015 06:09 am (UTC) (Link)


A DW prompt inspired the free-verse poem "Carrying On." Victor and Igor take Nandru and Tivador to the farm that belonged to Artúr so the boys can select their restitution. It's mostly fluff, with a little angst left over from recent upheavals and unpleasant pasts.

220 lines, Buy It Now = $110
rix_scaedu From: rix_scaedu Date: August 5th, 2015 07:02 am (UTC) (Link)
A courtship leading to a new friendship or a new addition to a family of choice.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 5th, 2015 11:00 am (UTC) (Link)


This combined with a bunch of other prompts for the free-verse poem "A River So Long." Rhoda runs away from home in search of something better, and through a long roundabout journey she assembles a family.

210 lines, Buy It Now = $105
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 5th, 2015 11:16 am (UTC) (Link)

Done for the night!

More later.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 6th, 2015 06:01 am (UTC) (Link)


A DW prompt asked for more about Officer Pink. I wanted to follow up with Ansel anyway, because I knew he'd make a point of checking up on Skippy after the teleporting incident. So here are the two of them splashing around at a sprayground and talking about their respective superpowers. Some of the conversation is practical, but the tone is basically fluff. "Muscadine Days" is written in free verse.

414 lines, Buy It Now = $207
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 6th, 2015 10:16 am (UTC) (Link)


A Monster House prompt inspired the free-verse poem "To Put Together a Family." An unsympathetic home leads the nephew to seek refuge in the house on Hollow Oak Drive. Fortunately SOME people know what family is all about.

144 lines, Buy It Now = $72
26 comments or Leave a comment