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The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
Poetry Fishbowl Open!
Starting now, the Poetry Fishbowl is open!  Today's theme is "dreams." 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.

The February 2010 Poetry Fishbowl is now closed.  Thank you all for your enthusiasm.

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 "dreams." 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) 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.

3) 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. Details are here.  New photos of sample scrapbooked poems are here.

4) Spread the word. Echo or link to this post on your LiveJournal, other blog, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Digg, StumbleUpon, or any other social network.  The Twitter hashtag is #poetryfishbowl.  Encourage people to come here and participate in the fishbowl. If there is at least one new prompter or donor, I will post an extra freebie poem.

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.

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 dreams. I am especially looking for: dreamers, visionaries, devices (magical or technological) that deal with dreams, topics of dreams or visions, hopes and wishes, despairs and nightmares, events in dreams, dreamy plot twists, settings in which dreams customarily happen, unexpected settings in which dreams happen, settings inside of a dream, 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.) The rest will go into my archive for magazine submission.

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Current Mood: creative creative

61 comments or Leave a comment
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jenny_evergreen From: jenny_evergreen Date: February 2nd, 2010 06:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's obvious, but I'd still like to see something on MLK's dream.

What happens when you die in a dream.

What happens when you die WHILE dreaming.

Maybe something on Nostradamus...
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 2nd, 2010 07:31 pm (UTC) (Link)


Both you and janetmiles mentioned Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and I also liked the "android" idea. That got me to wondering how androids might discover the idea of agitating for civil rights.

"To Have a Dream" is a free-verse poem in which an android nanny overhears a history lesson.

Sometimes, history repeats itself so that we can keep learning from it.

50 lines, Buy It Now = $20
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 2nd, 2010 06:32 pm (UTC) (Link)


arielstarshadow requested sonnets with a midmonth donation, and wcg posted about a space exploration essay:

From this I got the sonnet "Wings of Steel," about dreams that are more solid than mere nightly visions.

14 lines, Buy It Now = $10

Edited at 2010-02-02 07:32 pm (UTC)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 2nd, 2010 08:09 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Poem

Another along these lines:

"Our Dreams Take Flight" is a repeating/interlocking poem somewhat similar to a rondeau, about watching a launch.

17 lines, Buy It Now = $10
ellenmillion From: ellenmillion Date: February 2nd, 2010 06:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oo... I just posted about a dream I had last night: http://ellenmillion.livejournal.com/1019734.html

Those rare moments where you wake up and your dream segues seamlessly into waking (ie, there's a siren in your dream that turns into your alarm) has always fascinated me. Is there a name for that?

janetmiles From: janetmiles Date: February 2nd, 2010 06:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
Are those only occasional for you? I find that I have to switch alarm clocks periodically because I start incorporating the alarm into my dreams Every Single Day.

And they're horribly frustrating dreams: the alarm is ringing, and I can't turn it off, and I can't turn it off, and I can't BREAK the damn thing to make it stop beeping, and by the time I finally wake up I'm sobbing in frustration (in the dream, not in reality) and my nails have dug crescents into my palms (in reality).
From: minor_architect Date: February 2nd, 2010 06:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
Since work has been canceled again today due to inclement weather, I get to participate after all! :)


We've all seen the trope of "dreams coming true," both good and bad. But what if it's the job of a particular segment of a population to have nightmares just so they won't come true? In other words, if certain people have those bad dreams, it ensures they never happen. What would that be like?
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 2nd, 2010 09:48 pm (UTC) (Link)


From this I got "The Scapemare," a free-verse poem that explains how nightmares are contained ... or not.

14 lines, Buy It Now = $10
janetmiles From: janetmiles Date: February 2nd, 2010 06:53 pm (UTC) (Link)


Borrowing from jenny_evergreen, Dreamers: the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X.

If androids dream of electric sheep, what do they (the androids, not the sheep) use for dream-catchers?

ETA: Oh, and hypnagogic states. And hypnic jerks (which I first learned to call "nocturnal myoclonic jerks"), which at least in my case are always accompanied by dreams of falling.

Edited at 2010-02-02 06:59 pm (UTC)
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ladyqkat From: ladyqkat Date: February 2nd, 2010 07:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
Dreams that are reality and reality that is a dream. How do you tell which is which?
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 3rd, 2010 12:24 am (UTC) (Link)


... and what happens when you lose the ability to do that? Thus is the tale in "Dreams of the Night, Deeds of the Day," a free-verse poem about a man with one foot in two worlds.

59 lines, Buy It Now = $20
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ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 2nd, 2010 09:34 pm (UTC) (Link)


I put this together with stonetalker's echo of "dreamwalking" and puffbird's prompt for "lucid dreaming."

The result is "LCD," a free-verse poem about connecting people through dreams, and the problems that result from that.

27 lines, Buy It Now = $15
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wcg From: wcg Date: February 2nd, 2010 07:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
There's a particular stress dream shared by military people everywhere. The general form is that you're pretty senior in rank, and have established yourself as someone of consequence. But for some reason you have to go through recruit training again, and you have to do it in such a way that nobody there can know who you really are or what your true rank is.

The PBS adaptation of Bernard Cornwell's novel Sharpe's Regiment, which can be viewed on YouTube beginning here, is an homage to this nigh-universal stress dream. I don't know if you have the time to watch it all. If you want to skip ahead to the meat of the universal stress dream, skip ahead to part 4 and watch through part 7. There are 11 total parts on YouTube.

Of course my experience was not like what's shown there, but I know every military person I've ever discussed that film depiction with recognizes it instantly. It's like some deep part of our mind wants to remind us in times of stress that we once endured something worse, if only for our relative powerlessness and lack of agency.
janetmiles From: janetmiles Date: February 2nd, 2010 08:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
This sounds like a military version of Every Student's Nightmare: it's finals week; you realize there's a class you registered for but never attended and you still have to take the final exam; and you can't find the classroom, your locker, the textbook, etc.
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moosl From: moosl Date: February 2nd, 2010 07:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
Perhaps some of these will spark you:

Polar Bear

Home-made Apple

Head vessels

Park bench
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 2nd, 2010 09:07 pm (UTC) (Link)


From this I got the free-verse poem "The Polar Bear and the Princess of Beasts," a fairytale about a girl who gets swept into a world without magic ... and the loyal guard who comes to rescue her. I've pasted a teaser below.

73 lines, Buy It Now = $36.50

The Polar Bear and the Princess of Beasts

When the Princess of Beasts was just a baby,
Three fairies came out of the Enchanted Forest.
The first fairy kissed her lips
And gave her the language of birds.
The second fairy kissed her ears
And gave her understanding of animal speech.
The third fairy kissed her hand
And gave her the power to change shape.

For five years, the Princess of Beasts lived in the palace
And learned to love all the animals, each for its own charm.
From the birds she heard news of distant lands.
From the cats she learned to walk softly and land on her feet.
From the horses she saw the world fly past like blurry wind.
A great northern bear came to be the captain of her guard
And his fierce strength protected her day and night.

stonetalker From: stonetalker Date: February 2nd, 2010 08:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
I was going to suggest Dreamwalking, but someone beat me to it!
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tonithegreat From: tonithegreat Date: February 2nd, 2010 08:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
When does dreaming instead of doing become a loosing proposition?
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 2nd, 2010 10:41 pm (UTC) (Link)


From this I got "A Loosing Proposition" and I have decided to make it today's freebie poem. I will post this in a separate message so everyone can see it.
beetiger From: beetiger Date: February 2nd, 2010 09:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
I want to know what happens to all those dreams that get caught in dreamcatchers.
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From: siliconshaman Date: February 3rd, 2010 12:21 am (UTC) (Link)
What if reality is the dream? What would happen when we wake up?
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 3rd, 2010 12:37 am (UTC) (Link)


I combined this with a couple of jenny_evergreen's prompts about life and death and dreaming. The result is "Soulchild Dreaming," a poem about the days and nights of spirit. It is written in unrhymed couplets.

10 lines, Buy It Now = $5
wyld_dandelyon From: wyld_dandelyon Date: February 3rd, 2010 04:01 am (UTC) (Link)
If you're still looking for prompts, dreamcatchers.

as for people with dreams--teenagers.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: February 3rd, 2010 04:31 am (UTC) (Link)


To be a teenager is to be caught between childhood and adulthood, adrift in dreams and uncertain how to manifest them. So I imagined what it would be like if a magic crucible could condense it all down to one instant, a rite of passage in which dreams become destiny. The result is "Dreamteenth," an indriso.

8 lines, Buy It Now = $5
61 comments or Leave a comment
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