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Group Poems

Exquisite Corpse

Started in the mid-1920s, this parlor game called Consequences was invented by the Surrealists. Exquisite Corpse is a game in which one player writes his line on a sheet of paper, folds over his line to conceal it, and then passes the paper to the next player. When the next player gets the paper, he writes a line, not knowing what the first player has written, folds the page over, and passes

Around the room the sheet goes, each player adding a line, folding the page and passing, until the sheet has gone around the room. At the end, one player unfolds the sheet and reads aloud the results to the amusement of the entire group.

We have exhumed this process here in an electronic form for your amusement.

To begin each poem, we start with the title and the first line from a well-known poem by a familiar author. Readers add their lines, and we create an entirely new poem by adding lines of our own.

This text on this page contains a number of riddles. Above each paragraph, you will find headings of introduction. The headings themselves are taken from lines and titles throughout literature. Do you recognize them? To find the answer, copy and paste the header into a search engine. For example: the header The Afternoon of a Faun is a poem by the French author Stéphane Mallarmé.

Here is a delightful collection of collaborative poems by our readers.

The Afternoon of a Faun

Our first poem was completed by APW contributors in October 1997, and is entitled An August Afternoon, with a first line from a poem by Bronislaw Maj. It contains some surprising twists and turns and uses some exceptional language.

Stranger in a Strange Land

In our second joint effort, APW readers take us far afield with sprung rhythms to strange lands in this poem called A Journey. It begins with a first line from a poem of that title by Edward Field.

Prepare a Face to Meet the Faces

Our third collaborative work uses a first line from a poem entitled Eye Mask by Denise Levertov (in memoriam, 1923-1997). The result is a poem showing a remarkable consistency in the image of the mask from beginning to end.

Nobody Knows this Little Rose

In our fourth collaborative work, our readers write their thoughts and feelings into Another Spring, using a first line from a poem of that title by Chinese poet Tu Fu. In this poem, spring has bloomed from early April until early June.

This Room And Everything In It

Next, visitors to these pages have written a remarkable series of lines beginning with a first line from an untitled poem by Jelaluddin Rumi. This work begins with ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, and ends by asking a question.

So Much Depends ...

In August, 1998, visitors to this page began with the first line from a very well-known poem by William Carlos Williams entitled The Red Wheelbarrow. Though Williams only wrote eight lines in this poem, our readers had quite a few lines to add.

Eternity in an Hour

Here, beginning with Wislawa Szymborska's View With a Grain of Sand, readers show us the world that they have discovered inside a grain of sand.

Ye'll Take the High Road

A line from 13th century Japanese poet Muso Soseki's Magnificent Peak, inspired this next collaboration from January to March 1999.

Do I Wake or Sleep?

Nearly eighteen months have passed since we began this collaborative project, and since then, the APW Group Poem project has become one of our most popular features. Our ninth collaboration begins with a first line from Louis Simpson's After Midnight, in which our collaborators embark on a journey between the subconscious and wakefulness to determine the meaning of their dreams.

A Hand Mirror

As summer 1999 comes to a close, we complete our tenth collaboration. Beginning with a first line by French poet Jean Follan, our visitors cast a long, collective look into A Mirror.

Sunday Morning

Starting Early, our readers begin with a first line by the eminent Chinese poet of the T'ang Dynasty, Po Chü-I, and look back into the past as they gaze into the future.

Brave New World

An Anonymous Eskimo poet's Magic Words inspire our readers to contemplate ancestral worlds and the gods who flung us from them in our final collaboration at the end of the millenium.

To find a form that accommodates the mess, that is the task of the artist now.

–– Samuel Beckett

This first collaboration of the new century begins with a humorous look at domestic engineering. Our contributors clean up, starting with a first line from California poet Al Zolynas's The Zen of Housework.

La Vita Nuova

The first line from Langston Hughes's poem Freedom's Plow sends our visitors down the furrows with the seeds of their ideas and their lines to discover the meaning of freedom.

All Our Stitching and Unstitching

Our readers climb into Jane Kenyon's Thimble and ride it out to sea in search of love in our fifteenth collaborative poem.

Wondering Minstrels

Falling head over heels in love for each other, our readers begin with a first line from The Most of It by Robert Frost. Find out how they have become fixed in minds of emotion and logic.

Elephant with Amnesia

Our readers take Pablo Neruda's Ode to the Elephant on a most exotic trip from the land of heartbreak back to his Elysium in this unusual rendition of a poem to a pachyderm.

The Thought-Fox

Composed before and after our national tragedy, the lines of this poem take a dramatic turn after September 11. Beginning with a first line from Miroslav Holub's Sorcerer's Lament, our readers express both their laments and sorrows.

The Eagle

Hope is alive and flying on unruffled wings in this collaboration beginning with the first line from Emily Dickinson's Hope is the thing with feathers --. For nearly five years now, this group collaboration project has been one of the most popular among visitors to these pages -- a hopeful sign of the vitality of poetry.

Archaic Torso

In this poem that continues in the spirit of awakening, readers begin with a first line from Wallace Stevens's Disillusionment of Ten O'Clock.

They are the last romantics, these candles

Please join us now in this poem that continues in the spirit of awakening as we begin with a first line from Lucille Clifton's poem the message of crazy horse (in memoriam, 1936 – 2010).

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