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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.  I'm still writing, so keep an eye on this page.

Starting now, the Poetry Fishbowl is open!  Today's theme is "unexpected uses for ordinary things."  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 Tornado Blew Away" (Polychrome Heroics, 14 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 "unexpected uses for ordinary things." 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 Tornado Blew Away" belongs to the series Polychrome Heroics 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 get a half-price sale for one week in one series.  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 "unexpected uses for ordinary things."  I'll be soliciting ideas for ordinary people in extraordinary situations, sellers of ordinary things, people who seem useless until they find just the right job, finding things, losing things, making do with what you have, building stuff, jerryrigging, being prepared, being totally unprepared, homes, schools, stores, other everyday places, the kitchen junk drawer, pervertables, mysterious grab bags, scram bags full of survival gear, purses, other collections of useful items, 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 New Book of Forms by Lewis Turco 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 Tornado Blew Away.") The rest of the poems will go into my archive for magazine submission.

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Current Mood: creative creative

24 comments or Leave a comment
eseme From: eseme Date: January 5th, 2016 07:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
The inkseer already uses one ordinary thing (a squid) to make ink and have visions, but now she is moving inland and if I recall thinking about family. How does she amaze her new community? Perhaps she solves a problem with an ordinary item and a new perspective?

Also, the old story of stone soup seems to fit this theme and it is a favorite of mine.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: January 5th, 2016 09:44 pm (UTC) (Link)


From your Inkseer prompt, I got the free-verse poem "Mightier Than the Sword." It is not the kraken ink which is ordinary, but rather the other items used to aim it at solving a problem.

15 lines, Buy It Now = $10
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: January 5th, 2016 07:32 pm (UTC) (Link)


A backchannel prompt by DW user Shiori_makiba inspired the free-verse poem "Under the Hammer." When a human trafficker attacks a Canadian family, he gets a lot more of a fight than he bargained for.

70 lines, Buy It Now = $35
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: January 5th, 2016 08:10 pm (UTC) (Link)


A backchannel prompt from Anthony & Shirley Barrette inspired the free-verse poem "The Discovery of Making Do." It's a riff on some childhood memories of jerryrigging in my family.

(Reserved for sale to prompters.)
ng_moonmoth From: ng_moonmoth Date: January 5th, 2016 08:11 pm (UTC) (Link)

There's a badge for that...

The Activity Scouts undoubtedly have a badge indicating that the wearer has demonstrated their skill in this area. What spurred the creation of this badge (origin story!), and, for those who would prefer to confirm their skill before life presents an opportunity to do so (and be recognized for that) in the field, how does one train/test for it?

Also, Hart's Farm is in the midst of Mud Season right now, but the spring planting won't wait, the ground's too soft to hold a man's weight (let alone a horse or piece of farm equipment), and the road to town's impassable (washed out, or muddy, your choice). Farmers are by necessity inventive. What happens?

Improvising weapons from what is at hand is an important aspect of kung fu. How do the Kung Fu Robots turn this theme on its head by turning their weapons into tools of peace and growth?

Signal boosted.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: January 6th, 2016 12:03 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: There's a badge for that...

Your Activity Scouts prompt inspired the free-verse poem "The Exercise of Ingenuity." Stan and Lawrence practice teamwork and tabletop engineering together.

210 lines, Buy It Now = $105
janetmiles From: janetmiles Date: January 5th, 2016 08:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
Tin-foil helmets

When all you have is a nail, everything looks like a hammer

Paintings created in MS Excel

[YouTube Video] "I can make a hat, or a brooch, or a pterodactyl"

Weather rocks
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: January 5th, 2016 09:14 pm (UTC) (Link)


Your tinfoil helmet prompt appears in the list poem "Ten Ways to Use a Spoon." Jerryrigger can find all kinds of applications for everyday things, some more appealing than others.

35 lines, Buy It Now = $20
rix_scaedu From: rix_scaedu Date: January 5th, 2016 09:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
Have you seen the second live action Scooby Doo movie? In it Daphne uses her handbag makeup purse's contents to pick a thumb print lock and finishes with the tag line, "I love being a girl!"

"girly stuff" put to unexpected "non-girly" uses by someone "girly".

From: technoshaman Date: January 5th, 2016 10:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oohhhhhhh, Shiv is gonna be a past master of this one....

I expect so is Brenda. (Being as I'm almost done recuperating from my own disability....) Barbecue tongs are especially useful.

Victor and.... who is his guest again? Improvisation often means survival in harsh winters.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: January 6th, 2016 03:07 am (UTC) (Link)


Your winter prompt contributed to the poem "Life Is an Improvisation." Whatever people need, Igor can usually find something to get the job done.

110 lines, Buy It Now = $55
tigerbright From: tigerbright Date: January 6th, 2016 02:15 am (UTC) (Link)
As a toddler, my son would make any bulky oblong object - landline cordless phones and TV remotes, particularly- into toy cars, driving them around the carpet. (This served as further proof that most of the stuff written about autism is junk science.)

My daughter is unable to organize her room because most objects serve multiple roles... less so as a second grader, but still.

Edited at 2016-01-06 02:18 am (UTC)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: January 6th, 2016 03:08 am (UTC) (Link)


Your car prompt appears in "Life Is an Improvisation" thumbnailed above, although technically Adam is imagining it as a carriage.
tigerbright From: tigerbright Date: January 6th, 2016 09:37 am (UTC) (Link)

RE: Poem

Well, that would make sense, given the time period :)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: January 6th, 2016 09:41 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Poem

Yeah, I try to follow prompts closely when they're this detailed. Other times I'll pick out one bit that resonates with me. This just seemed like something Adam would do.
From: rhodielady_47 Date: January 6th, 2016 05:06 am (UTC) (Link)
Today's theme is "unexpected uses for ordinary things."
I don't know that this is poetry material BUT--
I always lay a layer of cardboard down on an area to be mulched before I put the mulch down. The cardboard does a wonderful job of killing out the grass and weeds under the mulch so that it stays nice looking longer.

In your Army of One series, wasn't there a ton of paperwork left behind when the war ended? Perhaps the Gardener could make use of it somehow...

ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: January 6th, 2016 08:37 am (UTC) (Link)


This inspired the free-verse poem "Marching Papers and Plowshares." Sam the Gardener explores what he can do with paper and earthworms.

90 lines, Buy It Now = $45
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: January 6th, 2016 05:37 am (UTC) (Link)


A DW prompt inspired the free-verse poem "With Whatever Comes to Hand." When Shahana and Ari get ambushed by the followers of Gorrein, they must improvise weapons and strategies from available resources.

122 lines, Buy It Now = $61
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: January 6th, 2016 06:47 am (UTC) (Link)


A DW prompt inspired the chastushka "The Bricolage of Banished Lives." It's about how Ilyana and Blue Blaze make do with what they've got, even though their circumstances set them aside from ordinary life.

44 lines, Buy It Now = $20
my_partner_doug From: my_partner_doug Date: January 6th, 2016 08:51 am (UTC) (Link)
Here's a situation for Dr. Laser and the Nocturnal Emissions, since it's been quite a while since we've seen them: there's a total power-outage spanning the time they're supposed to be playing. The venue remains open, using candles for lighting, but since the band's normal instruments all require electricity, and there's no time to even go out and rent acoustic instruments, they have to improvise an entire set of makeshift "instruments".

As an example of what might happen (although this uses a couple of more-or-less legit instruments): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=17QQcK4l6Yw
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: January 7th, 2016 12:04 pm (UTC) (Link)


This inspired the free-verse poem "The Improvisation of Human Existence." When a storm takes out the power during their performance, Dr. Laser and the Nocturnal Emissions scrounge up some ordinary items to use as acoustic instruments.

82 lines, Buy It Now = $41
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: January 6th, 2016 09:10 am (UTC) (Link)

Done for the night!

I still have a few prompts left to cover, but I'm closing for now.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: January 7th, 2016 02:31 am (UTC) (Link)


A DW prompt inspired the free-verse poem "On the Axle of Mindless Aggression." Mr. Grenade and Dvorak team up to destroy a cache of weapons belonging to Haboob. This would have gone smoother if Dvorak's nemesis Qwerty had actually believed she was hitting a supervillain target this time.

394 lines, Buy It Now = $197
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: January 8th, 2016 07:02 am (UTC) (Link)


A DW prompt about withdrawal inspired the free-verse poem "Devil May Care." Dr. Bloch deals with the aftermath of Jimar using drugs and having a bad reaction.

528 lines, Buy It Now = $264
24 comments or Leave a comment