For the month of June, writer and poet Mike Maggio decided to start a group writing project that would bring together twenty poets and end with twenty-one new poems. After each poet contributed one line to the collaborative poem, each had the chance to revise the poem within his or her style while maintaining the integrity of the original lines of the work.
Ever realize during revision that the beginning of your piece should be the end? That the middle isn’t really the middle, or that a beautiful line actually makes sense when it comes after a different one two stanzas above? Sometimes it’s helpful to just knock a piece over like a barrel of fruit and watch how phrases can realign. Below are three complete revisions of the original collaborative poem “An Apple Is Not A Story” by Dan Cafaro, Joy Martin, and Laura Young that have taken advantage of the old switcheroo by reorganizing lines to enhance meaning and impact. Revisit our blog to watch how the poem continues to evolve.
*To read the entirety of the original collaborative poem, or to learn a bit more about collaborative poetry, go here.
Dan Cafaro’s revision:
She steps carefully over
the circle of bodies that surround her,
glutted with the ripe flesh.
Wasps murmur in the grass,
coming to life for those
not afraid of seeing.
Earth-bound with drunkenness,
heedless of the roaring blade,
waiting in the trees for its resurrection.
Concealing secrets of the soil that sustains it,
tasting line by line,
forbidden to be consumed in one sitting.
Crimson harbinger of joy, foreteller of truths,
nibbling, crisp tart words, to salivate
and satisfy her curiosity, vast and unquenchable.
As chlorophyll-laden leaves transform rays of sun
and seeds buried for doubting tongues
into nectar-filled flowers that will become
A primly wrapped promise, a ruse. A guise,
An apple is not a story,
Mystery rests in this pale delicate flesh.
An apple is more than a story,
its ripeness holds the weight,
tipping juicy balances with time.
© Dan Cafaro, 2013
Joy Martin’s revision:
An apple is not a story, ‘tis said.
Its crisp ripeness holds the weight
to tip the juicy balance of time
toward curiosity, vast, unquenchable.
Mystery rests in this pale, delicate flesh.
Apple, more than a story, is truly sublime.
This primly wrapped promise, a ruse, a guise
conceals secrets of the soil that sustains.
Its seeds, buried as doubting tongues malign.
Life comes to each not afraid of seeing
who steps carefully over the circle of
bodies that surround garden left behind.
First bite sacredly taken, consequence known.
Glutted with ripe flesh, hear murmurs in grass
earth-bound drunk, heedless of blade divine.
Waiting for the breeze of resurrection
chlorophyll-laden leaves transform rays of sun
into nectar-filled flowers that will again shine.
Forbidden to consume in one sitting,
nibble crisp tart words, salivate
taste succulent morsels, line by line.
© Joy Martin, 2013
Laura Young’s revision:
An apple is not a story, but its ripeness holds weight as if it is; waiting in the trees for its resurrection as chlorophyll-laden leaves transform rays of sun into nectar-filled flowers that become crimson harbingers of joy, foreteller of truths; once fallen, wasps murmur in the grass nearby, drunk on sweetness and heedless of the roaring blade while roots step carefully over the circled bodies.
Inside, succulent juices tip and balance with time; the flesh forbids to be consumed in one sitting as its admirer tastes it line by line, nibbling through its crisp tartness to salivate and satisfy a vast and unquenchable curiosity.
Mystery rests in this pale delicate flesh, for an apple is more than a story; it’s a primly wrapped promise, a ruse—a guise, concealing secrets from the soil that sustains it; its seeds, buried for doubting tongues, come to life for those not afraid of seeing the glutted ripe flesh.
© Laura S. Young 2013
Dan Cafaro is the founder and publisher of the genre-busting fiction house Atticus Books, and the weekly online journal Atticus Review, where he writes and edits the creative nonfiction column, “From the Attic.”
Laura Young is an Associate Professor of English at Northern Virginia Community College-Loudoun Campus. She enjoys writing curriculum for her English courses and writing fiction for pleasure.