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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 attention.  Keep an eye on this post, as I'm still writing.

Starting now, the Poetry Fishbowl is open!  Today's theme is "gender, orientation, and identity."  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 Emulsification of Humankind" (14 verses, Torn World).

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 "gender, orientation, and identity." 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 Emulsification of Humankind" has 14 verses and belongs to Torn World.

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.

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 "gender, orientation, and identity." I'll be soliciting ideas for QUILTBAG folks, queer allies, homophobes and other identity bigots, boomerang bigots, gender scholars, the oppressed, the misunderstood, ordinary people, outcasts, abuse survivors, the women that men don't see, questioning, debating labels, losing everything, looking in the window, taking people for granted, surviving oppression, hiding in the closet, coming out, upstanding, speaking truth to power, punching up, protesting, telling your own story, bedrooms, classrooms, counseling offices, churches, government buildings, libraries, cities, alleys, bars, parades, liminal zones, self-discovery, self-awareness, QUILTBAG pride, pride flags, other symbols of identity, birth control, reproductive freedom, sex toys, assumed male gaze, same-sex marriage, alien sex/gender dynamics, unpaid labor, self-sacrifice, emotional labor, disruptions, subversive education, humility, humiliation, social evolution, appreciation, identity literature, 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 Emulsification of Humankind."  The rest of the poems will go into my archive for magazine submission.

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17 comments or Leave a comment
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: July 4th, 2017 05:36 pm (UTC) (Link)


A backchannel prompt form Shirley Barrette inspired the free-verse poem "Missing." Schrodinger is asexual and happy about it.

Hold for original prompter.
rix_scaedu From: rix_scaedu Date: July 4th, 2017 08:07 pm (UTC) (Link)

Sexuality is a spectrum, and attraction can be complicated, but you aren't obliged to question where you are if you're happy and comfortable - and no-one's getting hurt.

Love in expected places.

Love in unexpected places.

When love in the wrong place turns out to be the right thing.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: July 4th, 2017 10:32 pm (UTC) (Link)


Your prompt about a spectrum contributed to the free-verse poem "Chipped." Stan and Lawrence visit a bake sale and watch people freak out over disrupted expectations.

187 lines, Buy It Now = $94
zianuray From: zianuray Date: July 4th, 2017 11:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
straight asexual male transitions, becomes demisexual lesbian

"confessions of an accidental lesbian" (not the above person)

xie has no particular gender expression, just likes to be comfy and practical. This seems to confuse some folks.

assigned female, feels m/l male, doesn't feel enough discomfort to make an issue of it either way, doesn't understand why so many people clutch their pearls over non-issues like other people's gender/skin/love/food preferences.

ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: July 5th, 2017 10:03 am (UTC) (Link)


Several prompts combined, then wound up breaking into two parts:

"The Order of Their Stars" is a free-verse poem in which Astin takes V shopping for necessary items. They talk about gender and identity.
240 lines, Buy It Now = $120

"Mosaic Identities" is a free-verse poem that follows Astin and V after shopping. They go for massage and visit a bar, where they meet up with some AYES and talk about gender issues more.
331 lines, Buy It Now = $166
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: July 5th, 2017 10:04 am (UTC) (Link)

Done for the night!

Nowhere near done, but need sleep now.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: July 5th, 2017 10:17 pm (UTC) (Link)


I couldn't resist writing up an Invulnerable image prompt that someone sent backchannel. "Bulletproof" is the story of how a Jew climbs out of a Nazi killing pit with Invulnerability, and then his life gets really interesting.

200 lines, Buy It Now = $100
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: July 6th, 2017 10:28 am (UTC) (Link)


This contributed to the free-verse poem "And Thunder Calls in the Distance." The Iron Horses hunt down the men who tortured Kenzie and dish out some biker justice. Also some spirit justice.

347 lines, Buy It Now = $174
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: July 6th, 2017 09:37 pm (UTC) (Link)


A church prompt inspired the free-verse poem "The Women Who Live in Themselves." It features lifelong virgins from Albania and Christianity.

23 lines, Buy It Now = $10
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: July 7th, 2017 05:51 pm (UTC) (Link)


A prompt about Turq inspired the free-verse poem "Happiness and Prosperity." Turq celebrates Chinese New Year with his families.

358 lines, Buy It Now = $179
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: July 9th, 2017 04:15 am (UTC) (Link)


This prompt contributed to the free-verse poem "A Wanderer with Purpose." Shiv gets to see Tolliver's forge and explore pilgrim badges as a simple craft project.

572 lines, Buy It Now = $286
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: July 24th, 2017 01:59 am (UTC) (Link)


Your prompt about Benchdog inspired the free-verse poem "The Best Type of Intimacy." Kennedy, Benchdog, and Pinion all have their reasons for bailing from the mixer party to hang out with each other instead.

200 lines, Buy It Now = $100
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: July 24th, 2017 10:20 am (UTC) (Link)


Your prompt about queer issues inspired the free-verse poem "TERF Wars." When T-Oregon adds an Other category to its paperwork, Stan and Lawrence wind up discussing the implications at school.

346 lines, Buy It Now = $173
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: July 25th, 2017 10:15 pm (UTC) (Link)


Your farm prompt inspired the free-verse poem "Find Yourself in a Garden." Stan takes Lawrence to a community supported agriculture farm.

425 lines, Buy It Now = $213
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: July 26th, 2017 07:00 am (UTC) (Link)


Your prompt about Bouchet inspired the free-verse poem "The Things That Really Interest Me." Ansel finds Kyle worn out from finals, and suggests a solution.

197 lines, Buy It Now = $99
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: July 29th, 2017 04:16 am (UTC) (Link)


Your power exchange prompt inspired the free-verse poem "What You're Afraid to Ask For." Pain's Gray decides that Shiv is ready to try kink on purpose. Hawt! Hawt! Hawt!

790 lines, Buy It Now = $395
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: July 29th, 2017 07:57 am (UTC) (Link)


This inspired the free-verse poem "A Series of Transitions." There is one thing that Vagary has always gotten right, and even Calliope recognizes that.

348 lines, Buy It Now = $174
17 comments or Leave a comment