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« Symbol, and Song (by Amy Glynn Greacen) | Main | What Nighthawks Says About Fiction (by Lawrence J. Epstein) »

March 07, 2012


I _love_ this--I'm an extreme fruit geek (and linguist) myself, and haven't yet tapped the potential of that in my poetry, although I fully intend to. I lived years fruit-foraging in the Bay Area, and thence Hawaii, but my style is somewhat cramped by my current domicile of Alaska.

In Latin, most fruits of a similar size are called some kind of "malum" or "pomum" (generic 'fruit' words)--peach is Persian apple, apricot is Armenian apple, pomegranate (which I almost always typo as poemgranate!) is Phoenician apple--and as soon as you look into tropical fruit, you see the trend has continued today--star apple, malay apple, wi apple, mountain apple, mamey apple, rose apple...(none of them at all related to "apples"). The persimmon's genus name, anomalously, is "diosypros"--"Zeus' pear."

Another possibility for your translational pun, together with the concept of evil, is the concept of choice. The verb "malo" means to "prefer." (Knowledge of good and evil?)

Speaking of breadth of range, the one fruit I can think of that surpasses the apple in its range is the mulberry, cultivars of which can grow from the Sub-Arctic to the Sub-Tropics.

I would love to see some of your so-themed poems.
best wishes
Ela Harrison Gordon

"Cox’s Orange Pippin", "Pink Sparkle", "Winter Pearmain", "Gravenstein", "Blue Pearmain", and the very popular "Mutsus" - i think they are all headliners coming to Lallapaloosa 2012 in Chicago in August along with "Jane's Addiction", "Chrome Waves", "Fitz and the Tantrums" and "Sweet Corn and Other Vegetables".

Or, at the very least, "headliners" for the next edition of BAP....

Great post......

Well, darn--I posted a long response to this and it seems like it got eaten.

I wanted to share and revel in fruit-geekdom and lament that it's something I haven't yet tapped for my own writing. I lived in the Bay Area for years and did lots of fruit foraging/community harvest while there, then more fruit activity in HI, but nowadays I live in AK, so less of that.

Adultus--and the present participle from the same verb is adolescens...which could be translated as 'catching fire.' Not related to adulterate except phonically...

For your apple/malum pun, another pun possibility, speaking of knowledge of good and evil, is the verb "malo," "prefer"--sometimes making a choice is anti-religion...

And you probably know that pomegranate (which I almost always typo "poemgranate") in Latin is called "Phoenician apple (malum punicum)"--peach is "Persian apple," apricot is "Armenian apple"...and over to the tropical fruits in English, in HI I knew mamey apples, star apples, wi apples, mountain apples, rose apples, and more.

I love to think about this kind of thing, and would love to see your fruit poems also.
Ela Hg

Ela -- you can see one of them in the Best American Poetry 2012! Coming out in September. ;-) But thanks for this -- yes, and what's hilarious, I worked on that apple poem (which is SEVEN PAGES, the longest in the manuscript by a lot) for ages, and in all that time, I never noticed the most obvious pun of all until I sent the dumb thing to a friend recently and in the email transposed POEM to POME. Um... DUH.

I believe that in older versions of English, "Apple" also generically meant "fruit," kind of in the way modern British English refers to "pudding" as a generic for dessert, regardless of whether it's a chocolate truffle or, um, an apple pie. So yes, you get all kinds of "apples" -- even tropical ones (I've heard of both sapote (that's your "mamey, right? -- there are three different things I know of called sapote) and cherimoya referred to as "custard apple").

Pomegranate is now referred to as "Punica granatum," to my knowledge, and peach has been re-genused to Prunus persica (persian plum) or my personal favorite "Amygdalus Persica" or persian almond. But yes, they've had various names and many embed a reference to apples. It's totally cool (my peach poem is in the current issue of Birmingham Poetry Review, which I mention as a plug not for myself but for the magazine and for editor Adam Vines (how's that for a fun name for natural history nerds?) who puts together an absolutely top-rate publication and is well worth your time. Yes, it's rich stuff for sure. thanks for replying!

PS -- Bill, If "Pink Sparkle" were headlining, I'd totally buy tickets. lol.

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