Monday, May 09, 2005


Found, by chance, this surprising fact here :

What is the largest known single organism on Earth? A blue whale? A giant redwood? Actually the largest single organism known is a fungus (an individual of Armillaria ostoyae - one of the "honey mushrooms") growing in western Washington state. This organism consists mostly of underground mycelia and covers 2,200 acres. It is estimated to weigh perhaps 4,000 tons ( 8 million pounds) and is thought to be about 2,400 years old. A smaller individual (covering only 40 acres) of a related species, Armillaria bulbosa , which is growing in northern Michigan is thought to be as much as 10,000 years old, which if true, would make it the oldest known living organism on the planet.

Poetry workshop assignment: Write a sonnet from the point of view of that fungus. Make it an acrostic, so that the first letters spell out HUMONGUSFUNGUS. (Or if you must spell humongous properly, make it GREATBIGFUNGUS.) You have 20 minutes.


Lorna Dee Cervantes said...


Honey of the beehive that is earth,
Upon which the heavens circumscribe,
Mammoth plain of wheat beneath our dirt,
One of the feathery few, a fertile fecund scribe.

New beginnings in your tethered spore,
Gross acres of weight, tons of semi-shifting spit
United in a song of musky shore, a sweet load more
Shimmering up through ages with the mass of it

Fidgeting beneath our boring feet, our sappy sweat
Upon its turtle brow, our sheaves of single cells
Nourishing; our mineral tears & sloughing grow it, yet.
Gigantic creature of beaded memories lies & swells,

Union of woven flesh & thread is just—
Singular & pulsing, bonding & releasing—us.

5/10/05 11:07-11:22 am
c 2005 Lorna Dee Cervantes

Brian Campbell said...


Ha ha ha!! (Actually, I didn’t laugh: just a big wide warm smile, as when I watch a Shakespearean comedy, say As You Like It done really well…)

You’ve made my day. I really expected no response like this one…

As for the poem, I love the title. The writing is rather crabbed and thick and fumbling and dense, but you could say this is rather like the fungus itself. Especially all that sweaty spittled turtled-browedness: I can really feel the mushroom under my feet, smell and taste its musky pungency, yuck! But that’s the quality of this particular fungus: you’ve captured that, I must say. (Quite a lot to capture, 8 million pounds' worth!)

While the poem is the right number of lines, follows the sonnet rhyme scheme and is an acrostic as prescribed (amazing feats in themselves, especially in 20 minutes or less) I have to point out that it does not exactly scan Shakespearean.

It’s lines range from 4 to 7 meandering crooked-toed feet.

However, I think you could reply this is the way a fungus would scan, or the way a fungus would indeed WRITE A SONNET. So bravo! Although it may called an Ode to Armillaria Ostoyae, and appear not to be written from that vast honey mushroom’s point of view, the poem could be actually written from its point of view, which we can presume meanders in and out and around and through and beyond itself.

So bravo again.

I award you A+.

Now you’re free to go out and play (if you haven’t done so already…).

Write the poem of your dreams with that glorious title, let it take the form it wants, let its meandering feet spread across this continent and fulfill its Manifest Destiny… (strangle the Whitehouse, if you like… as I would like…)

Kindest regards,