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Review - Crossing State Lines: An American Renga

Friday, April 29, 2011

4 Stars: A Great Read
Hardcover: 80 Pages
Publication: March 29, 2011 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux

A collaborative poem about America, from fifty-four of our best poets.

Crossing State Lines: An American Renga is a poetic relay race across the continent: fifty-four poets responding to ideas of America—and to each other. This is a collaborative journey of impressions—from the election and inauguration of President Obama, through foreclosures, job losses, chords of country music, and bombs in Baghdad, to a poet-soldier’s rifle-sight in Afghanistan.

The renga itself, in the ancient tradition of Japanese linked verse, provides the form of this historic conversation among the poets, as they meditate, within ten lines, on a moment in America. Crossing State Lines begins with Robert Pinsky’s recounting of a line of poetry by Lincoln as fall deepens and “maples / kindle in the East,” and ends some five hundred lines later, with Robert Hass’s “greeny April” on the Pacific coast.

I really enjoyed reading the poems. Told in the ancient tradition of Japanese linked verse, the poems bring out the feeling of collaboration, uniting the states in this renga. The idea of crossing state lines is further developed through the lack of individual titles for the poems. I hadn't read the works of many of these poets, and I am delighted to have had the opportunity to read their works. They are all talented. I know that I'll be sharing my book with friends and family!

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I received a copy of this book through Goodreads.
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